Where is Uptown?
There’s a fair bit of debate as to where the boundaries for Uptown New Orleans actually are! The boundaries have changed over the years, and different generations of New Orleanians have different ideas on this.
Back in the 19th century, Canal Street was commonly used as the defining line between Downtown and Uptown New Orleans. Of course, back then the French Quarter was the main part of the city and the Central Business District wouldn’t have existed in the same way it does today, but history does show that the CBD was actually the earliest area to be called Uptown New Orleans. So there’s a lot of confusion! For the sake of argument let’s take the boundaries as defined by the Uptown New Orleans Historic District, which says that Uptown is the area from the Mississippi River up to Claiborne Avenue and from Jackson Avenue to Broadway Street.
A History of Uptown New Orleans
New Orleans was originally part of the French territory called Louisiane, which stretched all the way up to the border with Canada, but in 1803 the United States of American bought this land from the French in a deal known as the Louisiana Purchase.
The Louisiana Purchase meant that New Orleans now became part of the USA, prompting many settlers to move into the undeveloped part of the city which was up river (and hence ‘uptown’) from the original Creole city, now known as the French Quarter.
Over the next century Uptown was developed rapidly as the plantations which once thrived here were built over. Separate communities popped up, like Lafayette and Carrollton, only to be later incorporated into the city. Areas like the Garden District were developed, and although the Garden District had its own unique character it was generally considered to be a part of Uptown.
Some of New Orleans most famous streets are situated in Uptown – Magazine Street, which was named after the ammunition magazine which used to be located here in colonial times, was a thriving and bustling street and major commercial district. Several blocks up from here is St Charles Avenue, where New Orleans richest residents lived in the hundreds of mansions which lined the street. Then there was the St Charles Avenue Streetcar which started operating in 1835, providing a great method of transport for Uptown residents.
Uptown New Orleans Today
Many of the above Uptown features can still be seen today. The St Charles Avenue Streetcar is still in operation, making it the oldest continuously operating streetcar system in the world, and there are still a good many examples of fine New Orleans mansions lining the street.
Magazine Street still remains a popular commercial district with residents and visitors alike. There’s an eclectic mix of shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars, intertwined with 19th and 20th century residences.