The Warehouse District used to be just that - a rather derelict area with lots of warehouses. Many of those warehouses are now condos and apartments. The area is also known as the Arts District, with many art galleries and studios, including glass-blowing art establishments.
The main arts street is Julia Street, where the Thirteen Sisters, 19th century row houses, are also found. There are special art events throughout the year, including the very popular White Linen Night which fills Julia Street with crowds approaching Mardi Gras parade density, but generally better dressed.Most people do wear white, if not white linen.
White Linen Night is actually one of those events that has almost become too popular. There are lines to walk through the most popular galleries and the ones with controversial exhibits. The Times-Picayune newspaper always publishes a guide in its Friday Lagnaippe section about the various exhibits, expecially those that should not be missed.
Royal Street used to be the undisputed art center, but Julia Street and the Arts District are now at least equal. In fact White Linen Night's popularity inspired the Royal Street and other nearby French Quarter artists to create "Dirty Linen Night". It's an open house gallery walk on the weekend after White Linen Night. Everyone is suppose to wear their dirty linen outfits from the weekend before on Julia Street.
The Arts District also hosts other art walks and festivals throughout the year.
The once drab section of town continues to evolve. The Warehouse District is not only an established Arts District, it's also become a Museum District.
The historic Confederate Museum has long stood on Camp Street. It's actually now called the Louisiana Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall. The Contemporary Arts Museum, which features Contemporary Art exhibits and occasional theater has been its neighbor across the street for some time. Now the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, also know as the O, is right next door to the Confederate/Civil War Museum. The O often offers evening concerts and hosts various special events.
Near the Contemporary Arts Museum, an interesting D-Day Museum was build a few years ago. It featured the Higgens boats that opened on the beach enabling the D-Day landing. Those boats were built in New Orleans and were the main justification for having a D-Day Museum in New Orleans of all places - pretty far away from the action.
That D-Day Museum has become practically an empire, and it continues to grow. It's now the National WW II Museum and attracts visitors from around the world.
The complex includes the original D-Day exhibition, with an abundance of personal stories in addition to artifacts, explanations, and such from the war and the homefront. There are also changing exhibits in the main building, such as one last year featuring the various animals involved in the war, from dogs and mules to pigeons.
Other buildings house various other exhibits as well as a "4-D" movie experience, live entertainment that brings back the 1940's, an extensive giftshop,and even a nostalgic restaurant headed by popular chef John Besh. When you visit, you may get a chance to talk with WW II veterans. The WWII also hosts a variety of events, most of them free, including lectures, movies, games, clubs, knitting, and more.
Another museum is located blocks away from the Camp Street museum concentration. The New Orleans Children's Museum was a pioneer on Julia Street. Located in a historic building, the museum is a favorite destination for kids, with lots of hand-on exhibits, sciencific experiments, and creative activities. Highlights are a TV studio, a play restaurant, and a recreated shrimp boat. Special annual events include a high-noon New Year's Eve celebration. Check with the museum for the dates of FREE Sundays.
The 1984 World’s Fair Expo included some of the Warehouse District and is credited with the transformation of the neighborhood. The nearby riverfront, once part of the Fair, now features the Riverwalk Marketplace shopping center with a balcony in its food court overlooking the Mississippi River, and the Morial Convention Center.
On the edge of the district is a federal government complex that includes the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal and the Eastern District of Louisiana Federal Courthouses, as well as a Post Office building. Across the street is Lafayette Square, an urban park that hosts free after- work concerts that have become incredibly popular and crowded. It's also the site of several annual festivals with live music and gourmet food.
The Warehouse District continues to evolve. It's now something of an Entertainment District, with restaurants, nightclubs, bars, and cafes. Late night dancing at several popular clubs in the area attract a large young crowd, especially on weekends.
Everything downtown is fairly close to the Warehouse District as is the St. Charles Streetcar and the Riverfront Streetcar. If you work downtown and also want to live among a bit of culture and nightlife, this might be the perfect neighborhood for you.