Central Business District
Downtown New Orleans
Like so many American urban centers, New Orleans’ Central Business District (CBD) was once a ghost town after work, but not anymore! Evenings now bring crowds to historic Lafayette Square for free concerts, and numerous other restaurants, bars and theaters come to life after dark.
Today, 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 Orleanians remain just as vigilant today and as a result, the CBD is experiencing a comprehensive rejuvenation of its façade.
Dining and Attractions
In addition to being a vibrant commercial center, and a meeting area for business travelers, the Central Business District is home to a wide variety of lunch spots, bars offering happy hours and restaurants. In the last few decades, the area has welcomed the Aquarium of the Americas, Harrah’s Casino, and great shopping at Canal Place.