Jackson Square: an Historic Park in NOLA French Quarter

As a popular site for providing an historical backdrop for events, artists, locals, and visitors throughout the year, we thought we’d tell you a little about the pretty block of land known as Jackson Square.

Photo by T. Hacker

Photo by T. Hacker

Jackson Square sits on the south corner of the French Quarter here in New Orleans.  Not only is it a park, but also a gathering place for artists, performers, tourists, photographers, and even locals.  It is the site for live concerts and Christmas Caroling each year during the Holiday Season.  As such, it is surrounded by a variety of businesses and restaurants to satisfy all who visit, and creating a vital part of New Orleans’ social and economic life.

But don’t think that the park ‘just came to be’ – its history is as rich as the city itself.

In the early days of the city, a central park beside the river became the gathering place for leisure, socialization, and shipping personnel.  This Place d’Ames was designed after the Place des Vosges planned square in Paris, and was a thriving landmark in the center of town.  Through the years, it served as an arsenal, additional battles, and even execution grounds before becoming the welcoming park and pedestrian mall that it is today.

And so it stayed through a renaming in 1815 to Jackson Square in honor of Major General Andrew Jackson who was victorious in the Battle of New Orleans against the British.  A statue of Jackson stands in the center of the square to commemorate his heroics for the city.

In the early 1900s, Jackson Square became a destination for painters of all skills from near and far.  Even today you’ll see painters and artists selling their creations in the pedestrian mall area, joined by fortune tellers, minstrels, and more.

While the park is no longer bordered by the river to the southeast (the levees now block this possibility), it is still a source of history, socialization, and celebration.  The historic St. Louis Cathedral sits directly to the northwest of the park, flanked by the old City Hall (Cabildo, now a museum) and the Presbytere, which once housed the city’s Catholic elite (also a museum now).  The beauty of the grounds, the St. Louis Cathedral, and the proximity to the river draw outside visitors and local residents alike.  The square has been the star of books, movies, and television shows, and we doubt the ‘fame’ will end any time soon!

During your bed and breakfast getaway at Avenue Inn, be sure to catch the St. Charles Street streetcar, just outside the inn, to Canal Street.  From there it is a short walk of a few blocks to arrive at Jackson Square.  Nearby you’ll also find Cafe Du Monde, the French Market, Jack’s Brewery, and plenty of shopping of all kinds!

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