Bourbon Street

New Orleans
New Orleans, LA

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

The main street of New Orleans French Quarter operates is perhaps the most sociable and pedestrian oriented street in the country.

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Why It Works

Synonymous with bright lights, all night partying, live music, and good Creole hospitality, Bourbon Streetís reputation tends to precede itself. This stretch of excessiveness located in the French Quarter of New Orleans is home to some of the wildest public gatherings in the world. Relaxed drinking regulations, never-ending Mardi Gras celebrations, and a continual abundance of ready revelers have made it an ideal destination for anyone looking to blow off some steam.

What Makes Bourbon Street a Great Place?

Cars are not allowed on the main portion of Bourbon Street making it a pedestrian paradise. It is also centrally located in the French Quarter, where the grid pattern makes it easy to navigate as well as reachable from many parts of the city. The St. Charles Avenue trolley also helps transport the masses to and from the area.

Due to strict historic policies, the beautiful 18th century buildings that flank the street, adorned with distinguished cast iron balconies, have fortunately been preserved. It looks much as it did when it was built, giving the area a well-established feel, a real sense of place, as well as an enclosed atmosphere.

On Bourbon and its side streets, one can find everything from five star hotels and restaurants to divey jazz bars and souvenir shops. The lack of cars allows the street to act as an outside courtyard that can be used for festivals and parades.

Itís home to Mardi Gras, enough said.

History & Background

Bourbon Street was not named after the whiskey, as many people believe. It was actually named after Louis XIV, who ruled France from 1661-1715 and invested in the New Orleans colony. He was of Bourbon descent--one of Europeís most enduring and powerful ruling families. In 1718, Adrien de Praguer, a French engineer, charted the grid layout of the French Quarter, the future home of Bourbon Street. It quickly became an elegant residential and shopping area. The commercial expansion of Bourbon Street began to accelerate in the 1920ís and 30ís. After WWII, it had become the entertainment and shopping center of the city. Increasingly known for its incredible Mardi Gras celebrations, it has become one of the most popular spots in the world to visit, with millions of tourists arriving every year.

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