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Neighborhood Profile: New Orleans French Quarter

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Small close-up image of Jackson Square New Orleans

Small close-up image of Saint Louis Cathedral and Andrew Jackson's statue in Jackson Square New Orleans

Julia Houston

New Orleans French Quarter History

New Orleans is a port town, and the Quarter is the oldest part of it. When the city was first founded as La Nouvelle Orléans in 1718, it was basically made up of the Vieux Carré, which means "Old Square." It is also the only part of the city that is squared out into a grid, as opposed to the bike-spoke curve of the mid-city and uptown areas, and the meandering layouts of New Orleans East.

The area housed the original workers of the port and their families. As the Spanish and English populations swelled, the name French Quarter referred to the decidedly French make-up of the city's oldest section.

Ironically, the majority of buildings in the French Quarter were actually created under Spanish rule. In large part, the grandeur of the area is due to the urban revival efforts of The Baroness Michaela Pontalba, daughter of the Almonaster (head Spanish guy), who had two apartment buildings built around what is now Jackson Square. These Pantalba apartments are America's oldest apartment buildings.

Today, the Quarter manages the difficult task of being a tourism mecca, a National Park, and a place people actually live and work.

French Quarter Area

The French Quarter is bound by the Mississippi River and North Rampart St. (north-south), and Canal St. to Esplanade Ave (east-west). There is some dispute regarding the properties along Canal St., but the district is defined as National Historic Landmark at 85 square blocks. The Quarter is three feet above sea level.

French Quarter Population

As of the 2000 census, there were 4,176 people, 2,908 households, and 509 families residing in the neighborhood. Katrina did little to change this.

French Quarter Landmarks

  • Jackson Square is a cluster of landmarks, including St. Louis Cathedral -- the oldest still-active cathedral in America -- the statue of Andrew Jackson, Pirate's Alley, the Cabildo, and the Presbytere.
  • Another gathering of landmarks occurs along Bourbon St., including Pat O'Brien's Bar (and its dueling piano bar), the Old Absinthe House, Napoleon House, and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop.
  • Other landmark bars in the Quarter include the Carousel Bar in the Monteleone Hotel, the Polo Club Lounge at Windsor Court, Tujague's, and the Bombay Club.
  • The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas has over 15,000 sea creatures from almost 600 species and several world-class habitats.
  • The Moonwalk is a red-bricked path along the river that is perfect for a slow stroll. It ends in Woldenberg Park, but I always continue on the levee until I can sit on the steps in front of Jackson Square.
  • The Café du Monde is open 24/7 and has served coffee and beignets continuously since the 19th century.

Shopping

It's tempting to think the Quarter offers nothing but antique stores and T-shirt shops. But there's much more. A sampling:

French Market - 1008 N Peters St., # 2
Open air market features local produce and seafood, though the ranks of fun hot sauces are my favorite. Then booths sell art, crafts, T-shirts, Asian trinkets, purses, glasswork, jewelry, and more.

Gargoyles Clothing - 1201 Decatur St.
Goth and lots of black, deck out for clubbing or just the occasional cool shirt.

Louisiana Music Factory
Carries the widest selection of Louisiana and New Orleans Music in the world. CDs and collector vinyl.

Papier Plume Stationary - 842 Royal St.
A great place to treat yourself to luxury writing instruments, Italian leather bound journals, albums, hand-made papers, wax seals and desk accessories.

Southern Candymakers - 334 Decatur St.
Pralines, chocolates, barks, toffees, and even sugar-free candies.

Dining

There are hundreds of good places to eat in the Quarter. Here are the five (arguably) most famous.

  • Antoine's, 713 Rue Saint Louis. Fifteen dining rooms and superb French Creole offerings.
  • Arnaud's, 813 Rue Bienville. Classic and fabulous Creole cuisine.
  • Brennan's, 417 Royal St. Famous for their breakfast, but exceptional all day long.
  • Broussard's, 819 Rue Conti. Slightly more casual than the others, incredible Creole food and drink.
  • Galatoires, 209 Bourbon St. French Creole cuisine and pure graciousness.

French Quarter Schools

  • Romeville Elementary School
  • McDonogh 35
  • Cathedral Academy
  • McDonogh School # 15
  • St Jude School Of Religion

French Quarter Essentials

French Quarter Visitor Center
419 Decatur Street, New Orleans
504-589-2636 ext. 1
Open daily 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Closed December 25 and Mardi Gras

National Park Services
916 N Peters St.
New Orleans
(504) 589-4841

Public Transportation: New Orleans Regional Transit Authority

City Council Representative:
Stacey S. Head - District B
City Hall Room 2W10
1300 Perdido St.
NOLA 70112
Telephone: 504-658-1020
SHead@cityofno.com

Police District: New Orleans Police Department - 8th District
New Orleans Police Department
8th Police District
334 Royal St.
New Orleans, La. 70130
504-658-6080
504-658-6039 (FAX)

Eighth District crime stats from 1996 to 2008

Area code: 504

Zip Codes: 70116 - 70130
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