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Audubon Neighborhood Snapshot

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

The Audubon neighborhood encompasses many tree-lined streets, a 127-acre park, several institutions of higher learning and a private parkway encircled by mansions.

When was the Audubon neighborhood first developed?

In the 19th century, New Orleans’ physical development progressed upriver along the natural levee from what is now the Central Business District. Wedge-shaped plantations lining the Mississippi river became available for urbanization when it was recognized that there would be greater returns in selling the land than in cultivating it. Settlement moved slowly upriver, converting cropland to subdivisions.

The Audubon neighborhood contains portions of several plantations; The first was Rickerville, which was bounded by Valmont and Joseph Streets. The streets followed the old plantation boundary lines. Hurstville was upriver from Rickerville and was planned in 1832. The upper boundary was between Eleonore and State Streets and the lower line was Joseph Street.

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required

  "The original library building on Tulane University's uptown campus, Tilton Hall, built in 1902, is now the home of the Amistad Research Center, one of the country's premier repositories for materials on African-Americans." [Dorothy Violet Gulledge Collection]

A very narrow area called Bloomingdale was acquired in 1834 and the plans were drawn in 1836 with only enough space for one thoroughfare, namely State Street. Burtheville was the suburb that fronted the river and ended at what is now Exposition Boulevard.

The Foucher Plantation was adjacent to the Burthville subdivision. This was the only uptown plantation that was not developed with residences, but instead was bought by the City of New Orleans in 1871 to establish a park and the remainder was used primarily for universities.

After subdivision of these properties, the area remained rural for several decades. Major residential development occurred toward the end of the 19th century. This was mainly in the form of shotgun cottages on the higher ground between St. Charles and the Mississippi River. Larger homes came along later on the lakeside of St. Charles Avenue. By the 1920s, the neighborhood was almost fully developed, with larger population densities on the riverside of St. Charles Avenue. Residential patterns have remained very stable since that time in the Audubon neighborhood.

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

"This grand avenue of Washintonia palms no longer stands in Audubon Park, felled perhaps by the 1962 freeze that killed hundreds of palms all over town or by the expansion of the Audubon Zoo in the 1980s. The palms were located roughly between what is now the Zoo's Louisiana Swamp and Australian exhibits." [WPA Photograph Collection]  

Audubon Park

In 1870, the state legislature created a park tax to be levied on real property in the city. The act was originally intended to provide funds for park improvements but was amended to allow the purchase of new park sites.

In April 1871, a state commission decided to locate a park on the portion of the Foucher Plantation between St. Charles Avenue and the Mississippi River. The park site was appraised at $344,433. Later that year, the owners, one of whom was on the New Orleans Park Commission sold the property to the city for the inflated price of $800,000. Everyone was outraged and the park commission was abolished and the tax repealed in 1871.

World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition

In 1884, the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition took place in Audubon Park. An entire gallery at the exposition was dedicated to the inventions and designs of African Americans – notably, many of whom had been freed from slavery only 20 years before.

"Colored Contributions to World's Exposition at New Orleans": an 1885 newspaper article in the Cleveland Gazette


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

  Proud fisher displays his catch at the Audubon Park rodeo in 1956. [Haynes S. Ragas Collection]  

Further development of Audubon Park

Because little was done to improve the park during its first decade of existence, the construction of the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition greatly altered the park’s appearance. The exposition and the uptown residential development provided a basis for support of the park.

In 1897, John Olmsted, son of the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, was hired to prepare a plan for the park. The cost was not to exceed one million dollars; sufficient money was never raised to fully implement the plan.

The part of the plan that was actually realized was the dual entrance gates on St. Charles Avenue and the circular drive around the park. In the early 20th century the recreation movement swept the country and park design shifted from the naturalistic to the sporting. Because Audubon was only partially developed by this time, it was able to accommodate both the picturesque and the sporting.


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

  WPA artists chiseling figures on a wall of the tropical bird house, Audubon Park Zoo, July 1939. [WPA Photograph Collection]  

Audubon Zoo

In the 1930s, a new $400,000 zoo was constructed using Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers.

By the early 1970s, the zoo had become obsolete so voters approved a tax to finance improvements. In 1975, the zoo expanded from 14 to 50 acres in size. Since that time the zoo is constantly being improved and it is now one of the most progressive and impressive zoos in the country.

The zoo is now park of the Audubon Institute, which also manages the city’s highly acclaimed aquarium, and the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center.

Audubon Institute’s web site including the Audubon Zoo (

Universities and Colleges

The oldest campus in the Audubon neighborhood area was on the corner of St. Charles and Broadway. Founded by six Irish nuns, St. Mary’s Dominican College was the first Catholic women’s college in America. The college for women opened in 1865 and closed in 1984. Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, got her B.A. in English and Education from St. Mary’s Dominican College.


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

  Leland university.[Louisiana Postcard Collection: Universities and Colleges]  

Leland University was once located where the large homes on Newcomb Boulevard now stand. It was one of the education institutions in New Orleans that provided college educations to African Americans when the city was still segregated. After the hurricane of 1915 Leland moved to Baton Rouge.

Tulane University was originally founded as a medical school. It was incorporated in 1847 as the University of Louisiana in New Orleans. The name changed in 1883 when Paul Tulane donated one million dollars to the school.

By 1893, the campus was its present 58-acre size, following several land purchases. Gibson Hall, the oldest building on campus, fronts on St. Charles Avenue and was erected in 1894. Tulane first admitted five black students in 1963.

Newcomb College, a part of Tulane University, was founded in 1870. Josephine LeMonnier Newcomb donated $100,000 to Tulane in order to establish a college for women. Her will left an additional endowment for the college.

Tulane University’s web site (

Loyola University is a Roman Catholic Institution operated by the Society of Jesus. Founded in 1911, it was an outgrowth of Loyola Academy, a prep school that had occupied the site for seven years. The fourteen-acre campus fronts on St. Charles Avenue where the buildings face an open quadrangle.

Loyola University’s web site (

Audubon Place

Audubon Place is a result of the “City Beautiful” movement in architecture and planning. The houses are arranged around a central oblong park planted with palms and azaleas. The park and roadway are for the exclusive use of the residents. Developers placed lower limits on construction costs to ensure uniformity in dwelling style. Audubon Place is located on the strip of land bordering the upriver side of Tulane University and fronting 550 feet on St. Charles Avenue. The development began in 1893 and remains virtually the same today.


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).

New Orleans City Guide by the Federal Writers Project. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1938.

Information about Leland University

New Orleans & Mardi Gras History and Timeline

For more information:

Tommy Crane's description of the Uptown neighborhood and the surrounding “Uptown” area of New Orleans

Relocate New Orleans description of the Uptown neighborhood and the surrounding “Uptown” area of New Orleans

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: May 17, 2002