Crescent City Collectors
Welcome to Orleans Parish
An overview of the districts and neighborhoods of New Orleans.
Central Business District
After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, a flood of northern immigrants came to New Orleans to turn the city into a bustling port. Over time, this sector (called the American sector) attracted a host of banks, offices, and government buildings, turning into the commerce nexus in the city. City Hall and the Louisiana Superdome are located here.
The Warehouse District
Prior to the 1970s, this section of mostly abandoned industrial warehouses was just a pocket of the Central Business District. Following the completion of the Contemporary Arts Center, this area underwent a Renaissance that transformed Julia Street into a “Gallery Row”. The 1984 World’s Fair inspired further transformation as developers converted the empty warehouses into condominiums.
Across Esplanade Avenue from the French Quarter is the Faubourg Marigny district, named for the colorful Creole plantation owner that brought the game Craps to New Orleans. It’s grown into a vibrant Bohemian scene with entertainment and a rich gay and lesbian nightlife. Some of the best music and dance clubs line Frenchmen Street; keeping with its colorful origins, many of the other streets in the district have names like “Poets”, “Music”, and “Love”.
Nestled against the Mississippi on the city’s eastern downtown core, Bywater has the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood to its west and the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal to the east. As rents on Frenchmen Street rise, poorer residents have begun moving out to Bywater. There isn’t much of interest here, but it’s relatively safe living quarters.
The French Quarter is the country’s most extensive collection of historic architecture. Though small—only 6×13 blocks—the French Quarter is considered the city’s geographical and cultural nexus. It is packed with shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and points of historic interest. Orleans Avenue roughly divides the Quarter in half, with the “upper” quadrant, the more “touristy” half, having slightly less stringent historic district regulations. The upper Quarter is seeing the gradual rise of chain shops and high-rise hotels, leading some to grumble that the area’s inherent charm is being lost.
The heart of the French Quarter is Jackson Square. It is at the center of a green park, flanked by the two Podalba buildings and beautiful structures on either side of the St. Louis Cathedral. Musicians, painters, mimes, and tarot or palm readers line the square, entertaining for the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike.
Lower Garden District
Once the most elegant suburb in America, the Lower Garden District is starting to show its age but is at least doing so gracefully. It’s tree-lined thoroughfares are home to stately Greek revivals; the streets here honor the Greek gods, nymphs, and muses, and a cast-iron craze among the residents shows in every attractive home adorned and/or fenced in with elegant wrought iron.
Northwest of the downtown core is the massive urban sprawl of Mid-City New Orleans. A fair percentage of the city’s population is concentrated here.
This long, prettified residential concourse runs up from the French Quarter to Bayou St. John on slightly higher ground. Early residents identified the wisdom of erecting their homes on land protected from seasonal floods. The ridge is home to lovely houses and a green, oaken canopy and, though small, is home to the Fair Grounds Race Track. The city’s annual Jazz & Heritage Festival is held there, which attracts a number of tourists to the city that is second only to Mardi Gras.
Bayou St. John
This circle of blocks around the bayou is the very oldest part of the city. French Canadian settlers lived here before New Orleans was even founded, and Native American tribes used the waterway here even before that to reach what is Esplanade Ridge now.
One of the smallest and oldest districts of the city, Treme is also the most derelict and run-down. It’s home to a population almost exclusively poor and African-American. The “shotgun” shacks distributed here resemble the French Quarter architecture in style, but not quality. Some efforts to clean up older buildings have pointed toward gentrification, but little headway has been made. In the 1840s, the district existed outside the city limits (Rampart Street marks where the city’s border used to lie) and slaves and free persons of color had an open market here in Congo Square. At the time, this was one of the only places in America where African culture was not only free of repression, but actively encouraged.
St. Augustine’s Church
The second-oldest African-American church in the nation, St. Augustine’s maintains the Tomb of the Unknown Slave and works hard to feed the needy in the area. Over time, the church also became known for colorful jazz funerals that go on parade around the district.
Canal Street once marked the boundary between the American and French sides of New Orleans, and marks the division between Uptown and Downtown today. With the Garden District as its centerpiece, Uptown stands a living architectural entity in contrast to the crowded, Old World French Quarter. Numerous blocks of glorious homes are symbols of the industriousness that made New Orleans once of the nation’s wealthiest city’s in the 19th century. Once past South Claiborne Avenue, however, the stately homes give way to poorer neighborhoods. Broadmoor, a neighborhood only a dozen blocks from Uptown proper, is a 180-degree turn in scenery.
Like the French Quarter, the Garden District is a small, historic neighborhood governed by stringent laws regulating its construction in order to maintain architectural character. The upriver towns that eventually converged to form the district were populated almost exclusively by Americans, and the homes here reflect their wealth and taste.
Sometimes referred to as the University District, Riverbend is located on the far, west end of Uptown and neighbors the campuses of Tulane and Loyala Universities. It is predominately residential, apart from the colleges, but does contain the Audobon Park and Zoo.