he Central Business District was the original Neutral Ground: the area between the American and French sectors set aside as a place for business, commerce and trade. With that said, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the CBD possessed a more residential and neighborly feel than it possesses now. Canal St and the surrounding area was home to some of the city’s most popular department stores, including Godchaux’s, Gus Meyer’s and D.H. Holmes (now closed, but at its old location, on the 800 block of Canal St, you can find a statue of Confederacy of Dunces hero Ignatius J. Reilly; the novel begins at the department store).
Old line movie theaters abounded, including the Orpheum, Joy and Civic. Folks would come here to shop and socialize, and while they still patronize the Shops at Canal Place mall, the character of the area is a bit more fast-paced and corporate compared to days past. There have been many physical changes over the years here, but one of the most far-reaching was the expansion of Loyola and Poydras streets into six-lane roads in the 1960s, which hindered walkability but also alleviated traffic gridlock.
The Warehouse District began coming into its own as an arts/restaurant/entertainment area following the 1984 World’s Fair; the area received a major boost in visibility following the opening of the National World War II Museum on June 6, 2000 (the 56th anniversary of D-Day). In 2012 Huffington Post and Forbes dubbed the Warehouse District one of the most hipster neighborhoods in America, a designation almost everyone in New Orleans (including Warehouse District residents) laughed off.