The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré ("Old Square") or
Vieux Carré Historic District, is the oldest section of the City of
New Orleans. Founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville,
New Orleans developed around the Vieux Carré, the city's central
square. Today, the district is commonly known as the French Quarter,
or simply "the Quarter," a reflection of the diminished French
influence after the
Most extant historical buildings were constructed in the late 1700s,
during a period of Spanish rule, or during the early 1800s, after U.S.
annexation and statehood. The district is a National Historic
Landmark, and numerous contributing buildings have received separate
designations of significance. The
French Quarter is a prime
destination for tourists and local residents.
Compared to other areas of the city, the Quarter experienced
relatively light flood damage from
Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The
district was protected by its distance from breached levees and the
strength and height of the nearest river levees and flood walls.
1.2 Adjacent neighborhoods
3 18th and 19th centuries
4 20th century and beyond
4.1 Effect of Hurricane Katrina
5 Landmarks and attractions
6 See also
8 External links
French Quarter is located at 29°57′31″N 90°03′54″W /
29.95861°N 90.06500°W / 29.95861; -90.06500 and has an
elevation of 1 foot (0.3 m). According to the United States
Census Bureau, the district has a total area of 0.66 square miles
(1.7 km2). 0.49 square miles (1.3 km2) of which is land and
0.17 square miles (0.4 km2) (25.76%) of which is water.
The most common definition of the
French Quarter includes all the land
stretching along the
Mississippi River from Canal Street to Esplanade
Avenue (13 blocks) and inland to North
Rampart Street (seven to nine
blocks). It equals an area of 78 square blocks. Some definitions, such
as city zoning laws, exclude the properties facing Canal Street, which
had already been redeveloped by the time architectural preservation
was considered, and the section between Decatur Street and the river,
much of which had long served industrial and warehousing functions.
Any alteration to structures in the remaining blocks is subject to
review by the Vieux Carré Commission, which determines whether the
proposal is appropriate for the historic character of the district.
Its boundaries as defined by the City Planning Commission are:
Esplanade Avenue to the north, the
Mississippi River to the east,
Canal Street, Decatur Street and Iberville Street to the south and the
Basin Street, St. Louis Street and North
Rampart Street to the
National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark district is stated to be 85 square
blocks. The Quarter is subdistrict of the French Quarter/CBD
Further information: Neighborhoods in New Orleans
Faubourg Marigny (east)
Mississippi River (south)
Central Business District (west)
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,176 people, 2,908 households,
and 509 families residing in the neighborhood. The population
density was 8,523 /mi² (3,212 /km²).
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,813 people, 2,635 households,
and 549 families residing in the neighborhood.
18th and 19th centuries
Many of the buildings date from before 1803, when
New Orleans was
acquired by the
United States in the
Louisiana Purchase, although
19th-century and early 20th-century buildings were added to the area.
Since the 1920s, the historic buildings have been protected by law and
cannot be demolished; and any renovations or new construction in the
neighborhood must be carried out in accordance with city regulations,
preserving the historic architectural style.
Elaborate ironwork galleries on the corner of Royal and St. Peter
Most of the French Quarter's architecture was built during the late
18th century and the period of Spanish rule over the city, which is
reflected in the architecture of the neighborhood. The Great New
Orleans Fire (1788) and another great fire in 1794 destroyed most of
the Quarter's old French colonial architecture, leaving the colony's
new Spanish overlords to rebuild it according to more modern tastes.
Their strict new fire codes mandated that all structures be physically
adjacent and close to the curb to create a firewall. The old French
peaked roofs were replaced with flat tiled ones, and wooden siding was
banned in favor of fire-resistant stucco, painted in the pastel hues
fashionable at the time. As a result, colorful walls and roofs and
elaborately decorated ironwork balconies and galleries, from the late
18th and the early 19th centuries, abound. (In southeast Louisiana, a
distinction is made between "balconies", which are self-supporting and
attached to the side of the building, and "galleries," which are
supported from the ground by poles or columns.)
The balconies and windows are an example of late 18th-century Spanish
architecture built after the Great Fires of 1788 and 1794.
When Anglophone Americans began to move in after the Louisiana
Purchase, they mostly built on available land upriver, across
modern-day Canal Street. This thoroughfare became the meeting place of
two cultures, one
Francophone Creole and the other Anglophone
American. (Local landowners had retained architect and surveyor
Barthelemy Lafon to subdivide their property to create an American
suburb). The median of the wide boulevard became a place where the two
contentious cultures could meet and do business in both French and
English. As such, it became known as the "neutral ground", and this
name is used for medians in the
New Orleans area. Even before the
Civil War, French Creoles had become a minority in the French
Quarter. In the late 19th century the Quarter became a less
fashionable part of town, and many immigrants from southern
Ireland settled there. (In 1905, the Italian consul estimated that
one-third to one-half of the Quarter’s population were Italian-born
or second generation Italian-Americans.)
20th century and beyond
In 1917, the closure of Storyville sent much of the vice formerly
concentrated therein back into the French Quarter, which "for most of
the remaining French Creole families ... was the last straw, and they
began to move uptown." This, combined with the loss of the French
Opera House two years later, provided a bookend to the era of French
Creole culture in the Quarter. Many of the remaining French
Creoles moved to the University area.
In the early 20th century, the Quarter's cheap rents and air of decay
attracted a bohemian artistic community, a trend which became
pronounced in the 1920s. Many of these new inhabitants were active in
the first preservation efforts in the Quarter, which began around that
time. As a result, the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC) was
established in 1925. Although initially only an advisory body, a 1936
referendum to amend the
Louisiana constitution afforded it a measure
of regulatory power. It began to exercise more power in the 1940s to
preserve and protect the district.
The Rue Bourbon, or Bourbon Street, was named for the former ruling
dynasty of France.
World War II
World War II brought thousands of servicemen and war
New Orleans as well as to the surrounding region's military
bases and shipyards. Many of these sojourners paid visits to the Vieux
Carré. Although nightlife and vice had already begun to coalesce on
Bourbon Street in the two decades following the closure of Storyville,
the war produced a larger, more permanent presence of exotic, risqué,
and often raucous entertainment on what became the city's most famous
strip. Years of repeated crackdowns on vice in
Bourbon Street clubs,
which took on new urgency under Mayor deLesseps Story Morrison,
reached a crescendo with District Attorney Jim Garrison's raids in
1962, but Bourbon Street's clubs were soon back in business.
Louisiana Supreme Court Building
The plan to construct an elevated Riverfront Expressway between the
Mississippi River levee and the
French Quarter consumed the attention
of Vieux Carré preservationists through much of the 1960s. On
December 21, 1965, the Vieux Carre Historic District was designated a
National Historic Landmark. After waging a decade-long battle
Vieux Carré Riverfront Expressway
Vieux Carré Riverfront Expressway that utilized the newly
passed National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, preservationists
and their allies forced the issue into federal court, eventually
producing the cancellation of the freeway plan in 1969.
The victory was important for the preservation of the French Quarter,
but it was hardly the only challenge. Throughout the 1960s, new hotels
opened regularly, often replacing large sections of the French
Quarter. The VCC approved these structures as long as their designers
adhered to prevailing exterior styles. Detractors, fearing that the
Vieux Carré's charm might be compromised by the introduction of too
many new inns, lobbied successfully for passage in 1969 of a municipal
ordinance that forbade new hotels within the district's boundaries.
However, the ordinance failed to stop the proliferation of timeshare
condominiums and clandestine bed and breakfast inns throughout the
French Quarter or high-rise hotels just outside its boundaries. In
the 1980s, many long-term residents were driven away by rising rents,
as property values rose dramatically with expectations of windfalls
from the planned 1984 World's Fair.
Effect of Hurricane Katrina
Main article: Effects of
Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans
As with other parts of the city developed before the late 19th
century, and on higher land predating New Orleans' levee systems, the
French Quarter remained substantially dry following Hurricane Katrina.
Its elevation is five feet (1.5 m) above sea level. Some
streets had minor flooding, and several buildings suffered significant
wind damage. Most of the major landmarks suffered only minor
damage. In addition, the Quarter largely escaped the looting and
violence that occurred after the storm; nearly all of the antique
shops and art galleries in the French Quarter, for example, were
Ray Nagin officially reopened the
French Quarter on September
26, 2005 (almost a month after the storm), for business owners to
inspect their property and clean up. Within a few weeks, a large
French Quarter businesses had reopened. The Historic New
Orleans Collection's Williams Research Center Annex was the first new
construction completed in the
French Quarter after Hurricane
Katrina. In September 2015, SBP (a disaster relief organization
that began after the hurricane), broke ground its new headquarters,
Chalmette to a 25,000-square-foot former salvage company
on Toulouse Street as part of a $7.2 million relocation effort.
The organization moved into its new space in May 2016. The
building is also serves as the national hub for the Disaster
Resilience and Recovery Lab.
Landmarks and attractions
The neighborhood contains many restaurants, ranging from formal to
casual, patronized by both visitors and locals. Some are well-known
landmarks, such as
Antoine's and Tujague's, which have been in
business since the 19th century. Arnaud's, Galatoire's, Broussard's,
Brennan's are also venerable.
Less historic—but also well-known—
French Quarter restaurants
include those run by chefs
Paul Prudhomme ("K-Paul's"), Emeril Lagasse
("NOLA"), and John Besh. Port of Call on Esplanade Avenue has been in
business for more than 30 years, and is recognized for its popular
"Monsoon" drink (their answer to the "Hurricane" at Pat O'Brien's Bar)
as well as for its food.
The Gumbo Shop is another traditional eatery in the Quarter and where
casual dress is acceptable. For a take-out lunch,
Central Grocery on
Decatur Street is the home of the original muffaletta Italian
See also: Canal Street,
New Orleans § Hotels
Accommodations in the
French Quarter range from large international
chain hotels, to bed and breakfasts, to time-share condominiums and
small guest houses with only one or two rooms.
The Audubon Cottages are a collection of seven luxuriously-appointed
Creole cottages, two of which were utilized by
John James Audubon
John James Audubon in
the early 19th century when he worked in
New Orleans for a short time.
Hotel St. Pierre is a small hotel also consisting of historic
French Quarter houses, with a courtyard patio.
French Quarter is well known for its traditional-style hotels,
such as the Bourbon Orleans,
Hotel Monteleone (family-owned), Royal
Sonesta, the Astor, and the Omni Royal Orleans. These hotels offer
prime locations, beautiful views, and/or historic atmosphere.
New Orleans portal
Buildings and architecture of New Orleans
French Quarter Festival, early April
List of streets of New Orleans
Louisiana Creole cuisine
Satchmo SummerFest, early August
List of National Historic Landmarks in Louisiana
National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places listings in Orleans Parish,
National Park Service
National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information
System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park
^ a b c "Vieux Carre Historic District". National Historic Landmark
summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
French Quarter History, Architecture and Pictures
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-01-30. Retrieved
^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".
United States Census
Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ "US Board on Geographic Names".
United States Geological Survey.
2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
New Orleans Community Data Center. "French Quarter
Neighborhood". Retrieved 2008-06-21.
^ a b Patricia Heintzelman (February 1975). "National Register of
Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Vieux Carré Historic District"
(PDF). National Park Service.
^ a b "
French Quarter Neighborhood". Greater
New Orleans Community
Data Center. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
^ Ellis, Scott S. (2010). Madame Vieux Carré: the
French Quarter in
the Twentieth Century. University of Mississippi. p. 7.
^ Madame Vieux Carré, p. 20-21
^ Madame Vieux Carré, p. 21
New Orleans 1900 to 1920 by Mary Lou Widmer. Pelican Publishing:
2007. ISBN 1-58980-401-5 pg 23
^ Madame Vieux Carré, p. 24
^ Madame Vieux Carré, p. 43
^ Souther, J. Mark. "
New Orleans on Parade: Tourism and the
Transformation of the Crescent City." Baton Rouge:
University Press, 2013. pp. 41-50.
^ Souther, "
New Orleans on Parade," pp. 66-71
^ Souther, "
New Orleans on Parade," pp. 54-63, 203
^ "Officials rescue Katrina's survivors amid 'chaos'". Archived from
the original on September 11, 2005. Retrieved 2016-01-29. CS1
maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) By Rick Wilking, Wed
Aug 31, 2005, retrieved on 2009-11-27.
^ FrenchQuarter.com: The Essential Guide to New Orleans' Oldest
Neighborhood Archived 2005-11-04 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Rosenblatt, Susannah; Rainey, James (September 27, 2005). "Katrina
Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy – Los Angeles Times". Los
^ THNOC - WRC Addition
^ a b Shannon, Robin (September 9, 2015). "Disaster recovery nonprofit
plans new Mid-City headquarters".
New Orleans CityBusiness (LA).
^ Hodges, Quincy (May 19, 2016). "St. Bernard Project looks for
tenants in new space".
New Orleans CityBusiness (LA).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to French Quarter.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for French Quarter.
Vieux Carré Commission at the
Wayback Machine (archive index) (VCC)
(Archive) - City of New Orleans
Harriet Joor: The City of Iron Lace
National Historic Landmarks Program: Vieux Carré Historic District
Vieux Carré:A Creole Neighborhood in New Orleans, a National Park
Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan
A Travel Description: At Jackson Square in the French Quarter
Neighborhoods of the French Quarter/Central Business District of New
Central Business District
Central City/Garden District
Lower Ninth Ward
New Orleans East
Village de L'Est
Venetian Isles/Lake Catherine
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Architectural style categories
History of the National Register of Historic Places
Keeper of the Register
National Park Service
Lists by states
Lists by insular areas
Minor Outlying Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
Lists by associated states
Federated States of Micronesia
District of Columbia
City of New Orleans
New Orleans metropolitan area
Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness
Delgado Community College
LSU Health Sciences Center
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
Notre Dame Seminary
Delgado Dolphins (Delgado)
Dillard Bleu Devils and Lady Bleu Devils (Dillard)
Loyola Wolf Pack (Loyola New Orleans)
New Orleans Baby Cakes
New Orleans Jesters
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans Privateers (UNO)
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Knights and Lady Knights (SUNO)
Tulane Green Wave
Tulane Green Wave (Tulane)
Xavier Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets (Xavier LA)
Hispanic and Latino American