About Downtown New Orleans
To New Orleans locals, ?Downtown? has always meant the neighborhoods along the Mississippi River east of Canal Street, including the French Quarter and Ninth Ward. The Central Business District astride lower Canal Street is not considered downtown. In 1974, however, the Louisiana Legislature felt necessitated to redefine the term Downtown New Orleans to include the lower Garden District, as well as the area around the Superdome.
The heart of downtown New Orleans is the French Quarter. During the day the area is an eclectic mixture of Creole design, crowded narrow streets, quaint shops, restaurants, and a mixture of aromas. Around Jackson Square there are artists displaying their work, street performers and the line of weary-looking horses hitched to elaborate buggies awaiting their next sightseeing fare.
Along Decatur Street you can enjoy Creole French coffee and beignets at the French Market, or a great muffaletto from the Central Grocery Store, or wander through the flea market stalls, visit the Jackson Brewery, the site of a variety of stores and shops.
At night the scene changes like a Jekyll and Hyde. Automobile traffic ceases and the streets are filled with revelers, curb-to-curb. The walls of the clubs are folded, opening them to the streets, there are bright lights . . . and everywhere, the music, the jazz sound of The Big Easy. On balconies overlooking the streets of the Quarter are private parties and observers of the street scene. Seeing the regular evening crowds and riotous revelry, one can only imagine how it is here during the Marti Gras.