The Marigny District
Faubourg Marigny was the one of City’s earliest suburbs, located immediately downriver from the French Quarter on land subdivided from the plantation of one of New Orleans most colorful historical figures. Antoine Xavier Bernard Phillipe de Marigny de Mandeville came into an enormous inheritance at a young age and is remembered for the fine style in which he squandered it, developing his faubourg and introducing the game of craps to the city in the meantime. He apparently took a close personal interest in the design of the new faubourg that would bear his name.
The Faubourg Marigny was largely populated by Creole families, free people of color and immigrants, including many Germans. Numerous early homes in the Marigny were built for free women of color. The Marigny is home to these Creole cottages and many ornamented shotgun dwellings, along with a number of corner stores, 2‐story mixed use corner buildings, and fine Queen Anne or Eastlake style Victorian 2‐story residences.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a rising interest in the neighborhood’s history, culture and architecture led to a campaign to protect it. In 1971, it was given protection through a special historic preservation zoning ordinance, the first since the creation of the Vieux Carré Commission in the 1930s. Now the Faubourg Marigny Historic District, the area is bounded by Esplanade Avenue, St. Claude Avenue, Press Street and the Mississippi River. Over the past 40 years, much of the area’s historic architecture has been lovingly preserved and restored. The homes in the Marigny are some of the most colorful and ornate in the city, although on a modest level compared to those in other residential districts in the City. The slideshow below only begins to illustrate the character of Marigny’s eclectic residential neighborhood.
Frenchmen Street, not far from the French Quarter, is best known for the three-block section in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood which is home to some of the city’s popular live-music venues, including Snug Harbor, the Spotted Cat, and Maison’s in addition to restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops, and an eclectic mix of music clubs, pastry shops, cafés and small businesses. The District also includes an industrial section of brick and metal buildings concentrated towards the Mississippi River. Although the area is popular with informed tourists, it is a favorite hangout for local residents, taking advantage of the more “down home” entertainment that dominates these few blocks.
I came across the area while I walked around the Marigny in the early evening, and took advantage of a seat at the bar at Maison’s, one of the most popular hangouts for local jazz. That night, a lively set was being performed by the Shotgun Jazz Band. Listen to the short video clip below and you can get a feel for how much fun they are having, and of course, the crowd in return.
As I walked back to my hotel in the warm summer evening, I ran across the Frenchmen Street Art Market, just up the street from Maison’s Bar. This is definitely my kind of place, filled with unique furniture, collectibles, art, photographs, used books, and other interesting artifacts, all displayed under strings of lights that make for a festive atmosphere.
One man’s junk, is another man’s treasure!