Central Business District
Downtown New Orleans
Like so many American urban centers, New Orleans’ Central Business District (CBD) used to be a ghost town after work, but not anymore. Evenings now bring crowds to historic Lafayette Square for free concerts. The Orpheum, home to the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and numerous smaller theaters and cabarets come to life for nighttime performances.
Best of all the historic neighborhood has become a hot address for visitors who enjoy around-the-clock access to all the city offers.
Part of the huge plantation allotted to New Orleans founder Jean Baptiste LeMoyne Sieur de Bienville in 1719, the lands comprising the CBD were sold to the Jesuits in 1723. With the construction of the First Presbyterian Church, the St. Charles Hotel and the St. Charles Theater, the new “American Sector” (so-called for the Americans who settled here) had begun to challenge the Vieux Carre as New Orleans’ financial and cultural center by the 1830s.
By the 1960s, the Industrial Canal had rerouted port activity and suburban shopping malls had further emptied downtown. In 1963, Poydras Street, once the site of a historic marketplace, was widened to accommodate high-rise office towers. The land speculation that followed saw entire blocks razed for office buildings and parking lots.
Preservationists organized in the 1970s to stop the demolition of the 19th and 20th century architecture and to encourage their renovation. New Orlenians remain just as vigilant today and as a result the CBD is experiencing a comprehensive rejuvenation of its façade.
In the last few decades, New Orleans has welcomed the Aquarium of the Americas, Harrah’s Casino, and great shopping at Canal Place.