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Canal Street

Canal Street

Palace Cafe
Palace Cafe
Astor Crowne Plaza
Saenger Theater
Harrah's Casino
Harrah's Casino
Canal Streetcars
Canal Streetcars
The Aquarium of the Americas
Mardi Gras

Originally purposed as New Orleans ‘Main Street’, Canal Street is the traditional starting point for a tour of New Orleans. Head off in any direction from this downtown hub and you are bound to see or find something of scenic or historic interest.


Canal Street was originally named for a canal that was supposed to connect the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. The canal was never dug, but instead it became the city's main pedestrian and vehicular passageway.
Horse-drawn carriages carried the city's well-to-do families to the street's local merchants while many others rode in on hundreds of streetcars coming in from nearly all neighborhoods of New Orleans. Canal Street was the stopping point for every major electrified railway line in the city.

The street eventually came to be the dividing line between the neighborhoods of the older Creole and French-descended residents and those of the newer-arriving Americans. From this, the term "neutral ground" came to describe Canal Street and eventually the term was applied to any median strip down the middle of a New Orleans street.


In the 19th Century Canal Street was the place to go in New Orleans for shopping, dining, entertainment and socializing. Uptown women and their daughters checked out the latest designs at department stores with legendary names like Krauss', Maison Blanche, Godchaux's, and D.H. Holmes, while Men did (and still do) their high-end clothes shopping at Rubenstein's and Meyer the Hatter.

Replacing some of the older department stores are The Shops at Canal Place in the street's 300 block, which include nationally renowned fashion retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Brooks Brothers, in addition to other high-end jewelry and clothing boutiques.

Luxury Hotels

Today many of the older Canal Street buildings, including the former Maison Blanche, Godchaux's and D.H. Holmes stores have been converted into top-rated luxury hotels with names like the Ritz Carlton, Astor Crowne Plaza and more!


New Orleans has some of the oldest theatres in the country, with the most famous venues right on Canal Street. Theatres like the Saenger brought in live touring Broadway shows while the while The Joy Theater offered the latest first-run movies. Today both theatres have been revamped to host famous performers and shows that come from all over the world!

Audubon Insectarium

What used to be a Customs House on the port of New Orleans, from the early 1840s to 1881, now stands as the Audubon Insectarium. This white marble exterior of Egyptian and Greek revival styles hosts the world's largest museum dedicated to everything that walks, crawls or flies and can be classified as a "bug."


A hot spot for fun and action during Mardi Gras, Canal Street has been hosting parades since the very beginning of the local celebration in the mid-1800s. Up to a million people now crowd into every square inch of the parade route to enjoy the festivities for which New Orleans is internationally renowned. During the Christmas Holiday Season, the colorful and imaginative lighting displays along Canal Street downtown have become a major attraction.

Traveling by Canal Street

Canal Street is one block away from the upriver boundary of the French Quarter and the starting point for every major street that runs the length of the French Quarter. It is also the starting point for all the major avenues that run from downtown to uptown and the street that divides north from south in the city street designations.

The street runs from the historic "Cities of the Dead" aboveground cemeteries to the Mississippi River, where a free ferry ride takes you over to historic Algiers Point. Today Canal Street is served along its entire length by a newly restored streetcar system that makes frequent stops near major downtown hotels and at all key cross streets.
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