I first thought the landscape defined her allure. The mighty Mississippi, the most powerful river in the country, bends toward her banks and rushes on. Gnarled live oaks, like aging centurions, stand draped with loosely spooled Spanish moss. Flourishing azaleas hem lawns and houses of worship. Downtown, wrought iron balconies and clopping horse-drawn carriages reveal a French Quarter feel. Grande dame antebellum homes, with dramatic approaches and column-lined porches, anchor this place like rooks on chessboard corners.