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Canal Street - New Orleans Street Names & History


Definition: Canal Street, the traditional main street of New Orleans, is named after a canal that never was. It's very wide. That width and its name both come from a grand plan to build a canal right in the middle of the street. It never happened, despite what some tourists are told. So Canal Street is named after a canal that never was.

That area for the planned canal, the median, is also the original neutral-ground in New Orleans. Canal Street was the dividing line between the French Quarter Creoles and the new American Sector. Its neutral-ground term became the New Orleans word for what other cities call a median.

Downtown Canal Street was THE place to shop in New Orleans for a long, long time. Not so much anymore, but there's an upscale New Orleans mall, the Shops at Canal Place near the river. There are still stores on Canal Street, but many of the buildings have been turned into hotels in recent years.

Audubon's Aquarium is at the River on the end of Canal Street next to the Algiers/Canal Street ferry landing. Steps from the ferry terminal is Harrah's Casino. The Audubon's Insectarium/Butterfly Garden is inside the impressive U.S. Custom House nearby.

The historic green Carrollton/St.Charles street car makes its turn back afte reaching Canal Street. A new red streetcar line runs down Canal Street's neutral ground all the way to mid-city to the main cemetery area of the city.

If you follow Canal Street through Mid-City to its dead end at Greenwood cemetery, make a right turn, then a left, it turns into Canal Blvd. which continues on through the Lakeview neighborhood all the way to Lake Pontchartrain. Canal Blvd. and this entire area was was one of the hardest hit by the post Hurricane Katrina flooding.

It is very very wide, with a huge neutral-ground where you can find the deteriorating Civil Defense shelter from the Cold War days. There is also now a subdivision on part of the neutral-ground. An unbelievable gigantic mound of trash was piled on part of that neutral-ground post-Katrina which became a photo spot for both tourists and returning locals.

Canal St./Canal Blvd. can take across town from the Mississippi River to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
Also Known As: Canal Boulevard
Canal Street is New Orleans main street.
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