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This information is pre-Katrina.
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Mid-City Neighborhood Snapshot

Census 2000 Data Tables: People & Household CharacteristicsHousing & Housing Costs, Income & Poverty, Transportation, Employment, Educational Attainment, Immigration & Language, Disabilities, Neighborhood Characteristics

Mid-City, so-called because its location at one time was in the middle of the city, has a character and spirit that most of its residents enjoy. Mid-City has a comfortable balance of various land uses, with a mixture of restaurants, shops, schools, churches, walking tours and its most noted cemeteries. The neighborhood is near City Park, the largest green space in the city.

Mid-City is a mixed-income neighborhood where nearly 3/4 of the households are renters. There was a large Hispanic population in the area in the 1900s that has since moved to other areas of greater New Orleans, although Mid-City still has the highest percentage (10%) of Hispanic people of any neighborhood. African Americans comprise the majority in the neighborhood (Claritas 1999, Census 2000).


© GNO Community Data Center

  Jefferson Davis monument along Jefferson Davis Parkway

The architectural styles are varied. Shotgun cottages of the late 1800s with wooden "gingerbread" ornaments abound, and Bungalow, Tudor and Mission style homes, built in the 1920s, can be found nearer to City Park.

"Back of Town"

Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans populated the area, especially along the higher ground that runs along the bayou.

"Back of Town", what the area was called in the 19th century, was an expansive swampy land with a few dairy farms operating in the area and cemeteries. Although the Carondelet and New Basin Canals were functioning adequately by the mid-1830s and streetcars were in operation during the last quarter of the 1800s, it was not until the latter part of the century and into the early 1900s that significant development occurred. This was due to improved drainage systems, including the construction of the pumping station in the 1890s at Broad and Bienville Streets. Homes were built along the city's main artery, Canal Street, out to the cemeteries. Streetcars ran on that street's neutral grounds until 1964, when buses replaced it. Plans are underway to bring back the streetcar line to Canal Street.

Street names in Mid-City

In the 1830s, John Arrowsmith, owner of a large tract of land in Mid-City, directed Charles Zimple to partition his property. Some of the resulting street names, chosen by Zimple, are still used today: Bernadotte's namesake is King Bernadotte of Sweden, Murat is for the King of Italy, David and Solomon were chosen from the biblical names, and Alexander for Alexander the Great. Napoleon Street, named by Zimple, was changed to Hennessey, in honor of a New Orleans chief-of-police of the late 19th century, assassinated by the Mafia.

Industrial development was seen along the canals and the railroad systems and was still in place by the 1920s, the year Mid-City was completely developed. The American Can Company, New Orleans Roofing and Metal Works Company, and Southern Sheet Metal Works were among some of the industrial establishments that ran along the St. Louis Street corridor. Some are still in operation today.

As commercial development grew over the years, mainly along Broad Street, Canal Street and Tulane Avenue, and major improvements to Canal and Poydras Streets further foiled the neighborhoods, single- and two-family houses were replaced by multi-family structures. In the 1950s and 1960s, this trend accelerated.

In the 1990s, however, a slowing of that pattern occurred as multi-family homes were converted to a lower density. At the same time, due to pressures of business development, some residential buildings were demolished to make way for office and commercial uses.


New Orleans cemeteries use vaulted plots for two reasons. First, New Orleans' elevation is below sea level and often, in the past, caskets floated down the streets during periods of flooding. Second, the French and Spanish each buried their dead in vaulted chambers. These two groups brought their traditions with them into the city.

Odd Fellows' Rest, Cypress Grove, Masonic Cemetery, St. Patrick Numbers One, Two, and Three, the Holt Cemetery, and a portion of Greenwood are all in Mid-City.

Odd Fellows' Rest


Image courtesy Permission for reuse required.
  "Funeral Car used by the Odd Fellows in 1852 "  

Segregation was the law of the land well into the 1900s. Catholics, not a part of such a practice when it came to its dead, buried Catholic African Americans and Caucasians side by side. However, for those belonging to other denominations, segregation was enforced even after death.

Benevolent societies, such as the Odd Fellows, purchased land outside of the city for a cemetery. The Odd Fellows' Rest, least known and least explored of the cemeteries at the foot of Canal Street, is where the non-Catholic African Americans were buried. A 10-foot concrete wall located in prime space surrounds the cemetery.

St. Patrick Cemetery Numbers One, Two and Three

These three Catholic cemeteries were constructed by and for the Irish, dating back to the yellow fever epidemic that plagued the city in the 1840s. St. Patrick Cemetery Number One is next to Odd Fellow's Rest and Number Two is across the street, both at the foot of Canal Street. Number Three is at Bienville and City Park Avenue, across from the Masonic Cemetery.

Masonic Cemetery

The Masonic Cemetery is on the corner of Bienville Street and City Park Avenue, just below Canal Street. Masonic lodges contributed to the purchase of property. Some families with means bought their own family tombs, while lodge brothers pooled their money to purchase larger burial chambers for a number of lodge members and their loved ones.

Holt Cemetery

Holt Cemetery, sometimes known as Potter's Field, is the city's burial ground built for the indigent. It sits between St. Patrick Cemetery Number Three and Delgado Community College. There are many unmarked graves. Others have handmade tombstones and crosses.

Quite a historic district


Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.

  "Black baseball clinic at Pelican Stadium with instructions given by the New Orleans Creoles team members, 1947." [NORD Scrapbook photographs]  

The Pelican Stadium, a NORD facility, was located across from today's Mid-City Lanes Rock N Bowl. Various activities for African Americans occurred here. The New Orleans Creoles, a local African American baseball team, led clinics to teach young boys the sport in the 1940s.

Two monuments stand in Mid-City to honor two men in history, Jefferson Davis and Jose Marti. Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, a U.S. Senator, an owner of enslaved Africans, and a supporter of slavery, is honored by this monument that sits on Jefferson Davis Parkway. The monument, although thought by some to praise the accomplishments of this man, is also a testament to the unresolved conflictual, contradictory and unequal relationship between Caucasians and those from other ethnic groups, particularly African Americans, that still exists today.

© GNO Community Data Center.
  Jose Marti monument  

The other statue, of Jose Marti, has a very different story behind it. New Orleans supported Cuban liberation from Spanish colonialism during the 1800s. As a result, a number of exiled Cubans either visited or lived in New Orleans, and some of them performed some of their organizing work here. Jose Marti was one of those revolutionaries. The plaque below the statue that sits on Jeff Davis Parkway states in Spanish:

From the Cuban exiles and their friends in Louisiana to the city of New Orleans, at the closing of the centennial year of his death fighting for the liberation of Cuba. New Orleans 28 January 1996.

Service organizations

The Center for Nonprofit Resources works to "increase the effectiveness and efficiency of nonprofit organizations by providing a wide range of high quality management support services that address the needs of their staff and volunteer leadership." Housed in the Liberty Bank Building on Canal Street, The Center offers training, consulting and grant seeking assistance to the greater New Orleans' nonprofit community.

Learn more about Center for Nonprofit Resources (

The Green Project serves "to match the issues of limited landfill space, neighborhood blight, pollution and waste with solutions that will benefit the Greater New Orleans area. " It is a recycling, resale center and educational resource.

Learn more about Green Project (

Health care centers

Two hospitals are in Mid-City, Memorial Medical Center and University Rehab Hospital. Southern Baptist Hospital and Mercy Hospital merged in 1994 to create Mercy-Baptist Hospital. The new hospital then became a part of the Tenet Health System in 1996 and was renamed Memorial Medical Center.

Public transportation system

The Transit Management of Southeast Louisiana manages The Regional Transit Authority (RTA), a political subdivision of the state. From 1922 to 1983, the New Orleans Public Service (NOPSI) operated the city's transit system. Not able to financially sustain the system due to changing travel patterns of residents, the Louisiana State Legislature in 1979 created RTA. It was not until 1983 when the negotiations to buyout NOPSI were complete. Today seven transit lines serve the Mid-City area.

Learn more about Regional Transit Authority (

Legal systems

Tulane and Broad is a well-known location for courts and jails in New Orleans. The complex is composed of Orleans Parish Criminal District Courts, Traffic Court and the Orleans Parish Prison.

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.
  "The House of Detention was built in 1901 and demolished in 1929 to make way for the new Criminal District Court building and jail at Tulane and Broad. " [from the Behman books]  

The House of Detention, built in 1901, was destroyed in 1929 to replace it with the new Criminal Courts Building and jail.

The Orleans Parish District Courts' judges, dissatisfied with the quality of probation services to improve the lives of those in the court system, began the Court Intervention Services. The Services programs are divided into four tracks, drug-related, domestic violence and intensive probation. The staff's presentation has evolved from law enforcement to counseling and support information and referrals to community organizations.

Learn more about Orleans Parish Criminal District Courts (

The Criminal Sheriff's Office is responsible for the operations of Orleans Parish Prison, one of the largest jails in the United States. Under Sheriff Charles Foti, in this position since 1973, there are a number of community and inmate programs and a Young Marines program.

Learn more about Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office (

Commercial/industrial sites

Many commercial and industrial establishments exist throughout Mid-City. A variety of diverse restaurants can be found in this neighborhood – Senegalese and Ghanaian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Italian and American to name a few. Little shops are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood that serve the needs of the area's residents. Unique bars and pubs contribute to the character of Mid-City.

Mid-City Lanes Rock N Bowl is a popular nighttime spot for celebrity entertainment, dancing and, of course, bowling. In its early years, Mid City Bowling Lanes was in the midst of a busy sports neighborhood being across the street from Pelican Stadium. But after pro baseball moved out of New Orleans, the Stadium was demolished in 1958, and larger, more modern bowling alleys enticed customers into the surrounding suburbs, it appeared that the small old-fashioned bowling alley would have to close down.

But John Blancher bought the establishment in 1988 and after a year of struggle, with consideration of bankruptcy, he booked a band to play on the weekend. That was the beginning of regular live music in a bowling alley in the area. Today, it is one of the most viable businesses in Mid-City.

Learn more about Rock N Bowl (

American Can Company


© GNO Community Data Center.

  American Can Company today.  

The American Can Company closed in 1987 and the building was abandoned for a number of years. A fire further destroyed the already decaying structure. It was expected to be demolished until a local developer took on the task of revitalizing the building. After a $44.5 million overhaul, the American Can Company, is a mixture of residential and commercial space. This certified historic rehabilitation consists of lofts and one- to three-bedroom apartments on the upper floors and commercial establishments on the bottom floor.

A few neighborhood organizations committed to the continuing improvement and revitalization of Mid-City and its residents can be found working in the neighborhood. Two of them, Mid-City Community Development Corporation and Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, partner with the Preservation Resource Center for this purpose.

Learn more about Mid-City Neighborhood Organization (

Krewe of Mid-City

Charles Bourgeoise founded the Krewe of Mid-City with the Mid-City civic association. Their first parade of six floats drawn by mules was in 1934. Bourgeoise and his wife were the first King and Queen. They are noted for their foil floats and were the first Krewe to use animation on them. Boy Scouts peddled stationary bikes hooked to cables and gear underneath the float.

Pour La Joie De Vivre, which means For The Joy of Living, is the Krewe's motto. In keeping with the saying, parade themes are dedicated to children and the young at heart. Each year the Krewe chooses a boy and girl from the Ronald McDonald House to act as honorary King and Queen. Since its early years, it incorporated a "Battle of the Bands" competition, which the Krewe proclaims gives them some of the best bands in Mardi Gras.

The parade route had always been through Mid-City until 2001, when they chose to relocate to St. Charles Avenue. Due to safety reasons, crowd control and more effective use of officers, the New Orleans Police Department had requested for some years that the Krewe change their route. After years of deliberation, noticeable decrease in crowds in recent years, and the memory of September 11, 2001, the Krewe decided to move. They have seen this as a positive change, as more people have experienced the uniqueness of the Mid-City parade.

Learn more about the route change (

For more information:

Tommy Crane, Inc., Mid-City

Virtually New Orleans: Cemeteries: The Foot of Canal Street

NORD Scrapbook Photographs

Memorial Medical Center -- About Us

Jesuit High School - New Orleans, LA

Criminal District Court Homepage

CDC-court intervention services

Rock N Bowl History

Sayre, Alan. "Decrepit Buildings Reborn to Meet Urban Living Needs.", August 24, 2001

American Can Company Apartments

History of the Krewe of Mid-City

2001 Mid-City Parade Route

1999 Land Use Plan New Orleans City Planning Commission

"Mid-City New Orleans"

What ex-slave bought a plantation? Amazing Africana Black History Facts

Neighborhood Profiles Project Document prepared by the City of New Orleans Office of Policy Planning and the City Planning Commission. Published December 1980. Study available at the Williams Research Center (non-circulating collection).

Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.

Carll, Angela. "Historical Park and Bayous." Times Picayune, C1, July 8, 2001.

Census 2000 Data Tables: People & Household CharacteristicsHousing & Housing Costs, Income & Poverty, Transportation, Employment, Educational Attainment, Immigration & Language, Disabilities, Neighborhood Characteristics

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Last modified: October 5, 2002