|Uptown New Orleans Historic District|
|U.S. National Register of Historic Places|
|U.S. Historic District|
|Location:||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Architectural style(s):||Mid 19th Century Revival, late 19th and 20th Century Revivals, Late Victorian, government housing|
|Added to NRHP:||July 3, 1985|
Uptown is a section of New Orleans, Louisiana on the East Bank of the Mississippi River encompassing a number of neighborhoods between the French Quarter and the Jefferson Parish line. It remains an area of mixed residential and small commercial properties, with a wealth of 19th century architecture . It includes part or all of Uptown New Orleans Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Historically, "Uptown" was a direction, meaning in the direction against the flow of the Mississippi. After the Louisiana Purchase, many settlers from other parts of the United States developed their homes and businesses in the area up river from the older Creole city. In the 19th century Canal Street was known as the dividing line between "Uptown" and "Downtown New Orleans", the boundary between the predominantly Francophone area down river and the predominantly Anglophone area up river.
The very broadest definition of "Uptown", coming from this historic definition of being everything upriver from Canal, encompasses about 1/3rd of the city. The narrowest, as a New Orleans City Planning neighborhood, refers to an area of only some dozen blocks centering around the intersection of Jefferson and St. Charles Avenues. Neither of these is what most New Orleanians of recent generations usually mean by "Uptown". While some may quibble about some exact boundaries, "Uptown" generally refers to the areas of the city closer to the River up from the Central Business District.
The boundaries of Uptown New Orleans Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places are the river to Claiborne Avenue, Jackson Avenue to Broadway. Adjacent areas which are often colloquially referred to as parts of Uptown are other National Historical Districts, Carrollton, The Garden District, Irish Channel, and Lower Garden District.
Uptown was developed during the 19th century, mostly from land that had been plantations in the Colonial era. Several sections were originally developed as separate towns, like Lafayette, Jefferson City, Greenville, and Carrollton. For a time in the early 19th century most of Uptown was part of Jefferson Parish until the City of New Orleans annexed them.
People from other parts of the United States settled Uptown in the 19th century, joined by immigrants, notably from Italy, Ireland, and Germany. Uptown has always had a sizable African American population. Census data shows that ethnically and racially mixed blocks were common Uptown in the 19th and early 20th century, which continues to be the case in much of Uptown.
Uptown was built along the higher ground along an old natural river levee of a wide gradual bend of the Mississippi. Streets were laid out either roughly paralleling the River's curve or perpendicular to it, resulting in what has been called a "wheel with spokes" street pattern (with the hub inland from Uptown, in the Broadmoor and Mid City areas).
Major roadways echoing the river's crescent include Tchoupitoulas Street closest to the river. Formerly heavily devoted to river shipping commerce, as shipping became more containerized in the later 20th century more of Tchoupitoulas became devoted to residential and other commercial uses. The next major street back is Magazine. While Magazine Street has only one lane of traffic in both directions, it is a major commercial district, known for its many locally owned shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Prytania Street is the next major street inland, although it extends only up to Jefferson Avenue as a major thoroughfare. Next is famous St. Charles Avenue, home to the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line. St. Charles was the city's "millionaire's row" in the 19th century, and a good number of the architecturally significant old mansions still stand along St. Charles, but much of it has more recently built apartment buildings and commercial establishments as well, and some of the old mansions have been converted into apartments. Further back, the streets Simon Bolivar, La Salle, and Freret form another parallel with the river. Furthest back is wide Claiborne Avenue, which until the early 20th century had a canal running down its neutral ground, and in much of Uptown was the back boundary of developed area until the drainage pumps designed by A. Baldwin Wood were installed (see: Drainage in New Orleans).
Major "spokes" perpendicular to the river include Melpomene/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Jackson, Washington, Louisiana, Napoleon, Jefferson, Nashville Avenues, Broadway, Carrollton Avenue, and Leonidas Street. Many of these were formerly the main streets of, or boundary lines between, the various early 19th century towns which were absorbed into the city.
Important neighborhoods and sections of Uptown include, going roughly upriver from Canal Street:
Some definitions of Uptown also include areas back from Claiborne such as the Broadmoor and Fontainebleau neighborhoods. Central Business District, historically also known as the "Old American Quarter", was the earliest area called "Uptown New Orleans", though many no longer include it in their definition of Uptown.
Notable Uptowners have included jazz musicians Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Harry Connick, Jr.,Louis Prima,George Brunies, Percy Humphrey, Joe "King" Oliver, Leon Roppolo, singers the Boswell Sisters and Mahalia Jackson, author Anne Rice, inventor A. Baldwin Wood, ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin, and professional football players Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and rappers B.G., Birdman, Lil' Wayne, and Soulja Slim.
Like most of the oldest parts of the city developed before 1900 on the city's higher ground, the majority of Uptown had very little flooding from Katrina For this reason, the portion of New Orleans along the riverfront stretching from the Bywater to Carrollton and including about half of Uptown was given the names "the Sliver by the River" and "Isle of Denial" High water did affect some portions of Uptown, especially the areas closer to Claiborne Avenue, in some places severely. While 20th century floods such as from the 1909 Hurricane and the May 8th 1995 Louisiana Flood affected Uptown, the post-Katrina flooding was worse than anything seen since Sauvé's Crevasse in 1849. In these areas many old homes built 0.9 to 1.2 meters (3 to 4 feet) above street level to insure against the occasional disastrous flood proved to be insufficiently raised, taking on another 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 feet) of water above their elevation.
However the area on the riverside of Saint Charles, and a varying amount further back, escaped flooding, being the single largest section of New Orleans to escape the flood.
Since it was spared the levee disaster flood, for months early in the post-Katrina recovery, Magazine Street became a commercial hub of New Orleans, with many businesses owned and run by locals reopening before chain stores in the Metro area.