Known as the Vieux Carré or Old Square when New Orleans was founded by the French in 1718, the French Quarter was the centre of commerce and social life and formed the beginnings of the city. Today this lively and often animated neighbourhood is filled with historic buildings, European style squares and an energetic night life, making for one of the most dynamic areas in the country. Much of the area is now a National Historic Landmark.
Take a walk or carriage ride through the charming streets and along it squares, monuments and old structures and the city’s unique heritage comes alive. From stately and elegant Jackson Square to the entertaining sights and sounds of Bourbon Street, the French Quarter has it all. While major Mardi Gras events do not take place here, many revellers center their celebrations along Bourbon Street, creating a vivacious atmosphere.
Ironically most of the architecture here is of Spanish influence. While the French founded and built the city, the territory was turned over to the Spanish in 1762. The Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 devastated much of the city and most of the original French structures were lost. Under Spanish control it was then up to them to rebuild the city. Because of that, much of the historic French Quarter buildings that we see today are of Spanish construction, containing Spanish design elements, many of which are still standing from the 1790’s.
The French Quarter encompasses approximately 78 square blocks, from the Mississippi River to North Rampart Street where Louis Armstrong Park begins. Its northern and southern boarders are roughly Esplanade Avenue and Iberville Street. If approaching from Interstate 10, take exit number 235A.