St. Charles Avenue
St. Charles Avenue is a thoroughfare in New Orleans, Louisiana and is home to the St. Charles Streetcar Line, which is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line anywhere in the world. St. Charles Avenue is also famous for the many mansions that line much of the uptown section of the boulevard.
St. Charles Avenue also runs along the Garden District, which is plentiful in Southern live oak trees that were planted during the 20th century. The Garden District was originally developed between 1832 and 1900. The area has some of the best-preserved historic mansions in the Southern United States. The Garden District was once just a number of plantations and was pretty much sold off in pieces to wealthy Americans who didn’t want to live in the French Quarter with Creoles. In 1833, it became a part of the city of Lafayette and in 1852 was annexed by New Orleans.
The area was originally developed with only a few houses per block so that they could be surrounded by large gardens. As uptown New Orleans started to become more urban in the late 19th century, some of the lots were subdivided, which produced a pattern for the majority of the neighborhood. Many of the blocks had 19th-century mansions surrounded by late Victorian period houses. After this change, the Garden District became more well known for its architecture rather than its gardens. The Garden District was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974.
St. Charles Streetcar Line starts at South Carrollton Avenue and South Claiborne Avenue and runs through the Carrollton neighborhood towards the Mississippi River. St. Charles Streetcar Line passes the entrances to Tulane University, Audubon Park, and the Loyola University New Orleans. The line then continues through Uptown New Orleans and ends at Canal Street in the New Orleans Central Business District, near the French Quarter.
For the first part of the 19th century, the part of St. Charles Avenue that was above Lee Circle was known as Nyades Street. The lower part of St. Charles Avenue was, and still continues to be, an important part of the Central Business District.
Gallier Hall is a historic building on St. Charles Avenue and is the former New Orleans City Hall. Gallier Hall was built from 1845 to 1853 and is an excellent example of Greek Revival architecture. The hall was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 1974. While the City Hall was moved to Duncan Plaza in the 1950s, Gallier Hall is still considered a place of honor during Mardi Gras, and the viewing galleries in front of the hall are reserved for Mardi Gras royalty. During parades, the marching bands typically perform shows here, and on Mardi Gras Day, the mayor of New Orleans toasts the kings of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club here.
While St. Charles Avenue was a favored site for mansions during the mid-19th century and through the early 20th century, many of the mansions were torn down during the mid to late 20th century. The surviving mansions have since become condominiums or rental homes, while others have been utilized for business, small hotels, and commercial venues such as libraries.