ptown began life as a series of riverfront plantations developed into small towns, or faubourgs. For a time, some of these subdivisions were part of neighboring Jefferson Parish, before the area was annexed by the expanding city between 1850 and 1870 (it was a French surveyer who named the side streets near Napoleon Avenue after the emperor’s famous battles, including Jena and Marengo). Early settlers included the Americans who flocked to New Orleans following the Louisiana Purchase, while downtown was still dominated by the original French. The area also saw waves of immigration from Ireland, Italy and Germany, and has long been home to a large African-American population.
Streetcar service along the St. Charles line started in 1835, and easy access to downtown helped spur development. Tulane, the city’s most famous academic institution, moved to its current campus in 1894, and its neighbor Loyola was founded a decade later.
Audubon Park was once the nation’s first commercial sugar plantation. It was willed to the city in 1850, served as both a Confederate and Union camp during the Civil War, and after the Confederacy’s surrender, as an activation site for the African-American Buffalo Soldiers. The site later hosted the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884 – Louisiana’s first world’s fair. It was renamed in honor of naturalist/artist John James Audubon, who painted many of his “Birds of America” in Louisiana, and around the turn of the century, developed into an urban oasis by landscape architect John Charles Olmsted, whose uncle designed New York’s Central Park.