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Welcome to the Central Business District
Downtown New Orleans is a lively and diverse region encompassing the charming French Quarter, the creative Warehouse District, and the towering buildings of the Central Business District (CBD). The Central Business District is the central artery of New Orleans’ government, financial sector, and hotel industry. While the CBD is not as famous as the French Quarter, it is a significant part of the city’s culture and history that offers plenty for visitors.
History of New Orleans Central Business District
The Central Business District in New Orleans has a significant historical role. Initially, the region was agricultural farmland during the 18th century. However, following a destructive fire in the French Quarter in 1788, Bertrand Gravier, who owned the land, decided to subdivide it for commercial development. This area came to be known as Faubourg St. Marie. Today, one of the CBD’s primary streets bears Gravier’s name.
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Faubourg St. Mary became home for new arrivals from other parts of the United States. Americans brought with them commercial ambition, Protestantism, and the English language. Faubourg St. Marie became the mirror image of the French Quarter’s Catholic, francophone society. Between these two societies sat Canal Street, which was known as the “neutral ground” – a term that New Orleanians still use today for medians on major streets.
The 19th-century cotton, sugar, and river trade economies flourished in Faubourg St. Mary, which eventually came to be called the Central Business District on account of this expansive commercial activity. The CBD is the home of Louisiana’s first skyscrapers and electrical grid. It has experienced many dramatic boom-and-bust cycles since its early days. In recent decades, the CBD has transformed many of its older skyscrapers into hotels that power the area’s modern tourism economy.
Things to do in the Central Business District/Warehouse District
Although the CBD may not have the same vibrant street life as the French Quarter, it boasts several fantastic local restaurants and bars. This iconic neighborhood is also home to popular attractions and fun activities that both visitors and locals can enjoy.
The sprawling National World War II Museum highlights the American experience in world history’s largest conflict. Closer to Canal Street, you’ll find Lafayette Square, which is one of the city’s oldest parks and a focal point in the history of New Orleans. Many well-known buildings (such as the famous Gallier Hall and the US courthouse), can be located near the park’s borders.
Sports lovers can catch an NFL Saints game at the Caesars Superdome or an NBA Pelicans game at the Smoothie King Center. Harrah’s Casino is a wildly popular stop for gambling fans. The CBD is also home to a number of major live music venues, including the Fillmore, the Orpheum, and the locally focused Howlin’ Wolf.
Art Galleries & Shopping
Julia Street offers New Orleans’ highest concentration of art galleries. These galleries present an artistic panorama that portrays everything from local history to international trends. Meanwhile, the Riverwalk Outlets is an extensive shopping mall right along the Mississippi River.
New Orleans City Tours
Exploring the Central Business District of the Crescent City can be an unforgettable experience. One way to maximize it is by hopping on a New Orleans bus tour. Not only can you avoid the hassle of navigating through the city on your own, but you can learn about its fascinating history as well.
A knowledgeable New Orleans city bus tour guide will accompany you throughout the journey, revealing little-known historical facts that will leave you feeling awed. You’ll be driven past all of the district’s major landmarks, including the towering skyscrapers, elegant hotels, and bustling shopping centers. Make the most of your visit to the Central Business District and book New Orleans city tours today!