Almost 300 years ago, the French Quarter, or Vieux Carre, emerged in the center of New Orleans. With a total area of just .66 square miles, the neighborhood is always a place of bustling activity. Tourists visit on a daily basis, marveling at its history and architecture as they peruse the streets and alleyways. As residents, we might take the area for granted every now and then, but we will always love the French Quarter. Here are a few reasons why:
Though the area became an established neighborhood as early as the 1730s, many of the buildings we see today are from the early 1800s, a period that coincides with the United States’ acquisition of Louisiana in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
The architecture also reflects a dark part of history, when the Great New Orleans Fire swept through the quarter and ravaged most of the existing French colonial architecture in 1788. New construction began, utilizing a more modern style that drew influence from Spanish motifs like flat roofs, scrolling ironwork, and fire-resistant stucco painted in pastel colors. New city codes also mandated that all buildings sit close to the curb to create a firewall, giving the area the intimate, enclosed feel it has today.
The storied architecture is home to quite a few New Orleans treasures. Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral stand together as an iconic duo, and just beyond the French Quarter itself are Faubourgs Marigny and Treme – in the early 1800s, both were considered suburbs!
The Historic New Orleans Collection and Jean Lafitte French Quarter Visitor Center both sit within the neighborhood, offering visitors and locals a chance to delve deeper into New Orleans history. Preservation Hall does just that – preserving the beloved jazz music so closely associated with New Orleans.
Food and drink are a big part of the allure as well. As locals, we have access to historic dining and bars where cocktails like the Sazerac were born. Whether we dig in to the classic crawfish etouffee at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen or sip on a Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House (the building dates back to 1797), we will toast to the enduring legacy of the French Quarter.