Located midway between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, the Mid-City area is comprised of diverse neighborhoods, each with their own distinct style. Many of the homes date to the turn of the century. From grand mansions to shotgun doubles, camelbacks and Victorians, Mid-City offers a balanced blend of New Orleans architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As the name suggests, Mid-City is centrally located and easily accessible to all areas of New Orleans. Residents of Mid City enjoy close proximity to City Park, the biggest green space in the city at over 1,300 acres. City Park holds the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. The park’s attractions include: The New Orleans Museum of Art, Besthoff Sculpture Garden, Botanical Gardens, Tad Gormley Stadium, the City Park/Pepsi tennis complex, Cascade Stables’ equestrian facilities, public golf course and driving range, dog park, Popp Fountain, Storyland and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, whose antique wooden horses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mid-City has an assortment of local restaurants, bars, shopping centers, schools, and churches located along its main thoroughfares Canal St. and Carrollton Ave. In 2004, streetcars returned to Canal Street, linking the Central Business District to the cemeteries and City Park. The lovely red streetcars were a welcome renewal of New Orleans appeal to Mid-City. With the exception of the Esplanade Ridge neighborhood, Mid-City suffered moderate to heavy flooding during Hurricane Katrina with the levee failure at the 17th Street Canal. It quickly began its rebuilding process and has preserved much of its historic architecture and character. This delightful, historic neighborhood is flourishing and has become one of the most in-demand neighborhoods in the city.
Mid-City is home to the Fairgrounds Racetrack, where horseracing meets Southern hospitality and where the world-famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is held every spring the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May.
The Bayou St. John neighborhood, composed of parts of two other neighborhoods, the Esplanade Ridge and Parkview, is located along Bayou St. John. Bayou St. John/City Park is perhaps a better nomenclature for the area of charming homes clustered along the historic bayou. In 1866, the city began using the bayou as a drainage canal, and houseboats soon formed a community along it. By 1936, the bayou was declared a non-navigable stream. The Old Spanish Custom House at 1300 Moss is part of concessions granted to Antoine Rivard de La Vigne in 1708. He, his wife and six children, were still living at this site according to the census taken by Diron D'Artaguiette in late 1721. The Pitot House at 1440 Moss is named for the first elected mayor of New Orleans. Built in 1799, this West Indies-style home is a museum open to the public.
The European dome of Our Lady of the Rosary can be seen over Cabrini High School's shoulder. Cabrini is on Moss Street by the iconic and recently renovated pedestrian bridge over Bayou St. John. It is here that "Christmas on the Bayou" is held each year with carols and a visit by Santa in his pirogue. In addition to these older structures the area has cottages, some with classical columns and others with Victorian gingerbread-framed porches, craftsman bungalows and raised-basement style homes.
The neighborhood has imposing homes, as well as bungalows needing renovation at affordable prices. A strong neighborhood association, great architecture, walkability and an area rich in history are just some of the area's strong points. The tree-shaded area is near to cozy restaurants, shops, coffee houses and the Whole Foods Market. The close proximity to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art, not to mention the unparalleled beauty of the bayou, makes this neighborhood a favorite place to call home. There is also easy access to the Interstate, the French Quarter and the Central Business District.
Esplanade Ridge stretches along tree-lined Esplanade Avenue from the south edge of the French Quarter to Bayou St. John and City Park Avenue. Esplanade Ridge got its name from the higher strip of land which marks the old Indian portage connecting Bayou St. John with the river. In 1807, the area's development was made possible by an act of the U.S. Congress giving the city title to a band of land downriver from today's Barracks Street between rue Levee (N. Peters) and rue Rampart. Esplanade Avenue with its great width and landscaped neutral ground is the spine of this district and contains the district's largest houses.
Numerous fine homes were built during the antebellum, including the center hall villas and great double galleried houses so common along the avenue. A notable example is the Edgar Degas House, located at 2306 Esplanade, where the French Impressionist artist lived and worked while visiting relatives from 1872-73. In the area above Broad Street, there is a strong concentration of early 20th-century houses, including some classically detailed residences that reflect the renewed interest in architectural classicism at that time.