New Orleans: Places to Explore

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Garden District

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Boasting some of the most beautiful homes in the city, the Garden District has acquired fame for its antebellum mansions and manicured gardens. Residents take great pride in their gorgeous properties, and the neighborhood is in bloom 12 months a year. Although most homes are closed to the public, with the exception of special-event tours, the views from the other side of the intricate cast-iron fences are still impressive. A stroll through the neighborhood is a peaceful break from more touristy areas of New Orleans.

Originally the Livaudais Plantation, the Garden District was laid out in the late 1820s and remained part of the city of Lafayette until incorporated into New Orleans in 1852. The neighborhood attracted "new-moneyed" Americans who, snubbed by the Creole residents of the French Quarter, constructed grand houses with large English-style gardens featuring lush azaleas, magnolias, and camellias. Three architectural styles were favored: the three-bay Greek Revival, center-hall Greek Revival, and raised cottage. Renovations and expansions to these designs through the years allowed owners to host bigger and more ostentatious parties, particularly during the social season between Christmas and Carnival. Today, many of the proud residents represent fourth- or fifth-generation New Orleanians.

The Garden District is divided into two sections by Jackson Avenue. Upriver from Jackson is the wealthy Upper Garden District, where the homes are meticulously kept. Below Jackson, the Lower Garden District is rougher in areas, and though the homes are often structurally just as beautiful as their counterparts, they have a distinct faded beauty. Coliseum Square, in the center of the neighborhood, is surrounded by especially gorgeous homes with tropical gardens. The Lower Garden District along Magazine Street has been increasingly gentrified over the past few years, with new boutiques and bars catering to a younger crowd. Artists, like local favorite Simon, who paints the colorful store signs that can be spotted throughout the city, have set up shop in this rapidly developing area.

The Garden District is a great neighborhood to stroll. Magazine Street, near the southern border of the neighborhood, is an excellent shopping destination with many antiques and novelty shops as well as restaurants and bars. St. Charles Avenue to the north also has several restaurants and bars.

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