Arts District (Warehouse District)
The French Quarter, Garden District, and Faubourg Marigny have always been great destinations for visitors to New Orleans, but the city's revitalized Arts District is giving travelers yet another reason to come to the Crescent City. This historic neighborhood - filled with amazing art galleries, fine restaurants, and world-class museums, has gone from bustling, to abandoned, and back to becoming the center of attention once again.
The Warehouse District, known today as the New Orleans Arts District, was originally established as an industrial area in the 19th century to store grain, coffee, and produce shipped through the Port of New Orleans. As commerce, trade, and industry practices evolved over time, the area's prosperity faded, and the once busy streets became eerily quiet.
The transformation from an urban wasteland to what many have called “the SoHo of the South” began in 1976 with the opening of the Contemporary Arts Center. The 10,000-square-foot complex is still entertaining and enlightening visitors today with cutting edge-artwork and an eclectic array of music, theatre, and dance performances.
Through this opening the art community saw massive potential and promise in the neighborhood. The abundant and open spaces of the warehouses there were perfect for creating, storing, and displaying artwork. Today more than 25 galleries call the district home. Most are located on Julia Street, which is also the scene of an evening gallery hop that hosts a mix of art lovers and socialites on the first Saturday night of every month.
Museums also put the roomy warehouses to good use. The National World War II Museum, one of the most popular attractions in New Orleans, features an ever-expanding exhibit space where war veterans are on hand to give tours, answer questions, or just to talk with the many visitors.
In less than three years, the attraction has hosted 1 million visitors. Other developments include a number of restaurants and cafes serving everything from stylish gourmet dishes to traditional Cajun favorites. The original Emeril's was one of the first to call the district home over a decade ago. Now diners can enjoy South Louisiana cuisine and dancing at Michaul's, fresh seafood at Rio Mar, delicious sushi at Rock-n-Sake, and drinks and music at Howlin’ Wolf.
For those seeking a cultural travel experience, the New Orleans Arts District alone is worth a trip to New Orleans.