What is The Ramparts?
The Ramparts isn’t actually a district or recognized area of the city of New Orleans, but rather a street, called Rampart Street. Presumably the plural comes from the fact that there’s a North Rampart Street and a South Rampart Street. However The Ramparts may also refer to the original French colonial city wall, called a rampart, which was built to protect the city against invasion and was situated on the north side of the street.
Where are The Ramparts?
Rampart Street begins at Felicity Street, seven blocks south of the New Orleans Central Business District and the Pontchartrain Expressway. Beyond Felicity Street, South Rampart Street becomes Danneel Street though in the 19th century Rampart Street actually continued well into Uptown New Orleans too.
Where the Ramparts meets Canal Street it changes to North Rampart Street and from here it continues for some miles through several neighborhoods – Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, Bywater neighborhood and into the Lower 9th Ward.
Rampart Street pauses at the Jackson Barracks before resuming for another block to Mehle Street where it ends. Interestingly the Jackson Barracks and much of the Mississippi River embankment in the Lower 9th Ward was used in filming Interview With The Vampire.
The Ramparts Today
Today Rampart Street is recognized as one of New Orleans’ important historic streets and if you take a walk down the Ramparts there are quite a number of interesting places to see.
Louis Armstrong Park, for example, which is situated between St Peter and St Philip Streets where you’ll find Congo Square – this was an important area for the African American slaves who came here on a Sunday, their day off work, and would sing and dance, play music and set up a market. This was most popular during the 18th century, though continued on into the early 19th century as well. Nowadays Congo Square is the home of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Part of Louis Armstrong Park is within the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Site.
Those visitors interested in jazz will also want to see the Eagle Saloon and Oddfellows Hall which is one of New Orleans most important surviving buildings from the early days of jazz.
Also on Rampart Street is the oldest surviving church in New Orleans, Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel (also known as the Mortuary Chapel) which is close to the St Louis Cemeteries. Built in 1826, the church was originally named Chapel of St Anthony of Padua, and was built for the purpose of dealing with the burials of the victims of yellow fever.