Located on the banks of the Mississippi River and covering 0.66 square miles, this neighborhood is the site of the original city of New Orleans. Founded by Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville in 1718, the area was laid out into 80 rectilinear blocks by military engineers in 1721, making it one of the earliest planned cities in America. The thriving city became the main port for steamboat traffic following the War of 1812. The arrival of American settlers, traders, and foreign immigrants caused the city to become highly cosmopolitan, and by the 1850s, it was the Mississippi Valley’s financial and commercial hub. The district rapidly declined from the early 1900s until the mid-1930s, leading to the creation of the Vieux Carré Commission in 1936, formed to preserve the original fabric of the historic area.
The Vieux Carré displays a unique mixture of architectural styles, such as French, Spanish, and Greek Revival, with most of the buildings dating from the period of Spanish control of the city. Often characterized by cast-iron and wrought-iron balconies cantilevering over narrow streets, the district comprises a variety of land uses and property types, including commercial, retail, hotel, entertainment, and residential. It also contains several green spaces, such as Woldenberg Riverfront Park; Jackson Square (the heart of the district); Washington Artillery Park; the Moon Walk; Latrobe Park; Place de Henriette Delille; Bienville Place; and Musical Legends Park. One of America’s oldest public markets, the French Market, is located adjacent to Latrobe Park near the waterfront. The Vieux Carré Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1966.