Follow St Charles Street from Canal St, through the Central Business District, and after a mile or two you'll hit the Garden District. This area is full of huge houses with big gardens from the 1840s when cotton and sugar were booming, and it was established by the new American presence in the city.
A tourist favorite is to take the St Charles line streetcar from its Canal Street Station through the Garden District. It costs about $1.25 each way, and it takes you past Audubon Park, the New Orleans Zoo, Tulane University, Loyola University, and several shopping and dining areas.
This is the area where the “Nouveau Riche” settled 150 years ago, where the successful people built their homes, and as “Nouveau Riche” from nowadays, they wanted their homes big, visible, that they show they were successful, and the area is spotted with big mansions of every style, from the Victorian mansion to the Italian villa, passing through Greek colonnades adorned houses or Normandy farms. . . (You remember the house Scarlett asked Rhett Butler to build for her, in “Gone with the wind”? Plenty of that sort of houses here!)
But after 150 years, many of them have real charm, and the colourful gardens with their big trees, hiding a bit the mansions are the real charm of the area.
You will not see the houses alone here, but the gardens, the combination of houses and gardens; a big wooden house with iron cast veranda behind the leaves (picture 1), another wooden house surrounded by colourful rhododendron (picture 2). . . . . Brick houses with matching colours of the alleys and again red rhododendron (picture 3) are also charming, and the big houses in nicely landscaped gardens (picture 4) with various colours of the flowers do not anymore “nouveau riche” taste, but very nice.
And you may see here or there some nice romantic details (picture 5)
New Orleans's beautiful Garden District was established in the 1830s and it's mostly famous for its impressive collection of 19th century southern mansions. In fact, the architecture and peacefulness of the place offer quite a contrast to what can be found in the French Quarter, so it's truly worth hopping on board the streetcar that goes along St. Charles Avenue to discover this other part of the city, which some locals describe as the "English Quarter". There are several guided tours offered in the Garden District, but most travel guides also include self-guided walks through the area (or you can easily find one online) and that's what we decided to do. The most interesting mansions are roughly located between Jackson, Magazine, Washington and St. Charles Ave., which is also where you'll find the homes - or former homes - of a few local celebrities, including Anne Rice, Nicolas Cage and Archie Manning, just to name a few. Also part of the Garden District is Lafayette Cemetery, another "City of the Dead" that was featured in Anne Rice's famous novel "Interview with the Vampire".
Going to the Garden District rounds out your trip. It's small enough to see a lot of good houses in about an hour. When we were there, the trolleys weren't running and we had to take a taxi to get there and back, but it was very affordable. Touring the Garden District can be a nice, relaxing way to end a crazy weekend in New Orleans.
The weblink below is a street map of the district.
The garden district is in my opinion the most beautiful part of New Orleans. The quiet tree lined streets with all of the beautiful homes are a stark contrast to the decadent fame of Bourbon Street. But it too is an important part of the city and adds yet another flavor to this city. This is what I love about New Orleans. There are so many different types of neighborhoods and activities to be found. Its like the city is changing right before your eyes.
Take the rickety St. Charles streetcar to this historic neighbourhood. Traditionally home the American wealthy, not much has changed. Author Anne Rice lives here, as does musician Trent Reznor.
Architecture buffs will love the delapitaded old mansions. A stroll through the Garden District's residential streets is a must.
This is also *the* neighbourhood for Anne Rice fans. You can see her house, the Mayfair Witch house, Louis' Lafayette Cemetary and her official merchandise shop.
After seeing the Lafayette Cemetery #1 we spent some time (about 90’) at the Garden District.
We walked for an hour around the district for some blocks and we stopped several times in front of some houses, we didn’t see any from the inside though but the guide told us which ones we could visit some other days and times. We didn’t return but we kept walking on our own after the tour ended. It’s easy to do it on your own too and just enjoy the architecture of the beautiful district which is full of trees and some of the houses have some wonderful gardens (didn’t you guess that?).
It’s better to do it early in the morning so to avoid the heat, we felt safe there but we wouldn’t bother to come in the evening, the daylight will help to admire the architecture anyway…
There many impressive houses and mansions here, now I can understand why I saw so many books about the architecture of the area in the local bookstores, most of the structures are great ones, many of them based on the greek revival style. Have in mind that Garden District was once called Lafayette, and it was a different city from the French Quarter that was built by Creoles(18th century) while here was the Americans that came at the beginning of the 19th century. The Americans had different language, religion and culture but what we really saw during our tour was the different architectural style, so different to colonial Louisiana.
The streets we focused more were Prytania St, Coliseum St, Camp St, First St, Second St and Third St. I’m sure there were much more to see but we couldn’t walk more with the high heat. Some of the house are famous from movies (like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) while some other structures belong to famous actors (pic 5 shows the chapel that belongs to Nicolas Cage, once to Anne Rice)
We created our own Garden District Walking Tour from Frommers. Our street card conductor told us where to get off and we spent about an hour wandering around the streets. There were lots of other tourists holding similar papers, tour buses that passed us and a few walking groups.
We started in the Garden District Book Shop where we enjoyed coffee. We walked down Prytania Street taking photographs of the architecture and gardens. We were impressed with 2523 Prytania St. which was once owned by Anne Rice and is now a private school. We turned down first street to the 4th house and saw Archie Mannings current home, the Pritchard Pigott, Morris Israel House, Carroll - Crawfod house as well as the Seven Sisters House. Anne Rice's 1857 Greek Revival Rosegate at 1239 First Street had a historical marker and a rosette pattern fence. Across the street is the Payne Stachan House with a marker in front; where Jefferson Davis fell ill and died.
We visited Commander's Palace from 1883 by Emile Commander, the large blue turreted victorian.
Lafayette Cemetery was established in 1883 and is one of New Orleans's oldest cemeteries.
This roughly 5-by-10 block area of New Orleans feels very much like the Old South and very different than the French Quarter. Established between 1840 and 1816 by Americans and immigrants who found themselves less than welcome in the Creole French Quarter, this area is on the National Register of Historic Places and is famous for its architectural collection of Antebellum, Victorian, Greek Revival and Italianite homes. Named for the profusion of gorgeous flowers, trees and shrubs that are simply everywhere, the soil is unusually fertile due to a deposit of rich silt from flooding in 1816.
The very best way to experience this district is on foot. You can take a guided walking tour (see my tour tip) or you can do it on your own. There is a very nice Visitor's Center on St. Charles Av. (between Josephine and St. Andrew Streets) that has brochures for a self-guided walk. Take a St. Charles streetcar (green ones) to either of these streets (pull the cord to be let off) and stop in for all sorts of good info on the area. The center is only a block from the edge of the district. Also, http://www.inetours.com/New_Orleans/Garden_District.html has a short guide that can be downloaded before you go.
For sure, you'll want to combine your walk with a visit to Lafayette Cemetery - which lies in the middle of the district between 6th and Washington (see tip). I might suggest planning your tour early in the day, when it's cooler, and wrapping it up with lunch at nearby Commander's Palace (lunch M-F, www.commanderspalace.com). It's expensive and they have a dress code (check website) but it's supposed to be very good and lunch prices are less spendy than dinner.
the sam zemurray mansion is one of scores of beautiful and architecturally significant homes in the garden district. sam zemurray has a jewish immigrant to america from bessarabia russia in the early 20 th century. zemurray also known as "sam the banana man" made a fortune growing and importing bananas from honduras. zemurray founded the cuyamel fruit company which he sold to the united fruit company in 1930 for 31 million dollars. today the zemurray mansion is owned by tulane university and is home to it's president. see my garden district travelogue for more pictures of garden district homes.
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