Running through the heart of the Bayou St. John neighborhood in New Orleans, Esplanade Avenue is a central historic thoroughfare that should not be missed. Esplanade Avenue touches the French Quarter at one end, leading into St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 and the Mississippi River and on the other end, traverses into the beautiful City Park and the entrance to the New Orleans Museum of Art. Known for its 19th century residential architecture and historic Bed and Breakfast inns, the Avenue is a favorite of Jazz Fest visitors, who enjoy its close proximity to the Fairgrounds.
Historically, Esplanade Avenue was called “millionaire’s row”, describing the ornate 19th century mansions that were built by the wealthy French Creoles who settled in the area. Located on an important portage route between the Bayou and Lake Pontchartrain (leading to the Mississippi River), the Avenue was a convenient spot for local tradesmen.
One of the Bed and Breakfasts along Esplanade Avenue, fittingly named the Degas House (also known as the Musson House), was once the home of French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas. Built in 1854, the house is Italianate in style (thanks to a later addition). The only residence or studio of Degas that is open to the public (in the world!), a visit to the artist’s home is a must for any art fan.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in the fall of 2005, Esplanade Avenue proved its nickname of Esplanade Ridge. The area, known for its higher elevation, did not suffer the same structural damage as the rest of the city. Although flooding did occur, most of the water was in the street and spared the homes from catastrophic damage. Esplanade Avenue is a lovely slice of New Orleans history. This two-lane road is a trek back in time that no visitor to New Orleans would want to miss.