French Quarter

A Fresh Look for New Orleans' Working-Class Neighborhoods

July 8, 2009

by Emilie Bahr

Just downriver from the French Quarter—New Orleans’ oldest and most famous district—the wrought iron balconies and handsome Creole townhouses give way to a scruffier set of neighborhoods that are getting lots of attention lately thanks to new development plans.

The Faubourg Marigny and Bywater districts in recent years have become the city’s new havens of bohemia—places where artists, musicians and eccentrics thrived after the French Quarter became overrun with tourists (many of them in search of 3-for-1 beer specials) and wealthy folks.

Now, locals—and good music—are more likely to be found at one of the bars in the Marigny than along bead-laden Bourbon Street.

Hurricane Katrina—the 2005 storm that went down as one of the deadliest in U.S. history—only strengthened the two neighborhoods’ appeal. Like the French Quater, they escaped serious flooding due to their strategic location along the Mississippi River, on some of the city’s highest ground. Today, these traditionally working-class neighborhoods are also the site for an ambitious project set to break ground in the fall that will transform much of the riverfront into a park. Not surprisingly, housing values have skyrocketed and investors are busy buying up the peeling shotgun structures that can still be had at bargain prices.

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Tags: French Quarter, New Orleans