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Irish Channel - A New Orleans Neighborhood Profile

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The Irish Channel, a New Orleans neighborhood, is so named because it was settled by a big wave of Irish immigrants who arrived in New Orleans in the mid 19th century. It was a new working class neighborhood.

THE IMMIGRANTS:

The immigrants were part of the peasant population that came to the New World to escape the devastating famine in Ireland.

There were also a bunch of German immigrants who made the Irish Channel their home, along with a smattering of other European immigrants such as Italians, as well as some Free People of Color and Indians. Lots of immigrants literally got off the boat and stayed right in the neighborhood where they landed. And many found jobs on the docks of that same waterfront.

There were many musicians from this neighborhood including all of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.

The immigrants, especially the Irish, became the laborers of the city, digging the canals, building, and working on the riverfront.

The neighborhood was respectable working class for the most part, but parts were fairly rough especially the area near the river that was notorious for its bars and saloons. The Irish Channel areas was originally part of the City Of Lafayette (incorporated 1833) which became part of New Orleans in 1852.

Most all of the immigrant families and descendants - Irish and otherwise - have moved out of the neighborhood which declined after War World II. Nevertheless, the old ethnic working class neighborhood has kept up its traditions far beyond many other neighborhoods of the city. Many former residents and their descendents come back for the big traditional St. Patrick events every year, as do many New Orleanians with no connection to the Irish Channel or Ireland.

ST. PATRICK EVENTS:

St. Patrick celebrations include a parade and a couple of block parties around traditional Irish Channel bars: Parasol's is at the corner of Constance & Third Street. It's rather famous locally for its roast beef po-boys. The previous owners of Parasols reopened Tracey's and hold another big block party on or near St. Patrick's day at 2604 Magazine Street. There's also a charitable Block Party at Annuciation Park that benefits St. Michael. Special School.

These block parties have always been all day affairs, literally from morning to night. And they are usually on St. Patrick's Day itself unless there's a parade conflict, i.e. it lands on a weekend. Generally, it's a working day and there's no shortage of people playing hookey for the celebration.

The parties include music, food, and always plenty of green beer. Irish walking and marching clubs pass through the streets offering paper flowers and beads in exchange for kisses. Everyone dresses in green at a minimum, except for the handful that dress in the Irish orange. Hats, wigs, sequins, feathers, and such are encouraged.

. THE NEIGHBORHOOD:

The boundaries are sometimes debated, but the official Irish Channel historic district borders are Magazine Street, Delachaise Street, Tchoupitoulas Street, and Jackson Avenue. (All houses with fronts on Jackson Avenue above Chippewa Street are included in the Lower Garden District historic district, to be technical about it.)

The Irish Channel neighborhood has many shot gun homes of all types including doubles and camel-backs. Many small homes display a variety of decorative factory millwork.



FOOD & DRINK & SHOPPING:

Probably the best known bar/restaurant in the Irish Channel is Parasol's at the corner of Constance & Third Street. It's rather famous locally for its St. Patrick block party and its roast beef po-boys. Another Irish spot is Tracey's which now also holds a big block party on or near St. Patrick's Day. at 2604 Magazine Street. Nearby is Rue de la Course Coffeehop at 3121 Magazine St.

Magazine Street includes boutiques, restaurants, cafes, antique stores, and other shops between Washington And Louisiana Avenues, and beyond. Magazine Street is a long ribbon of strips of non-chain local shops, cafes, and restaurants across uptown that attracts locals and tourists. Tchoupitoulas Street along the river has residential buildings along with warehouses, industrial buildings.
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