he Bywater is within the Upper 9th Ward, separated from the Lower 9th Ward by the Industrial Canal. Prior to the canal being dug in 1914, those Upper and Lower divisions did not exist — the area was all 9th Ward. The Upper 9th Ward extends far beyond the Bywater, bounded by Franklin and Almonaster Ave on the upriver (west) side, Lake Pontchartrain to the north and northeast, and the Industrial Canal to the east.
Like many New Orleans neighborhoods, this land was once plotted for plantations. The first settlers were white Creoles of French and Spanish descent and mixed-race Creoles descended from Native Americans, slaves and Free People of Color (as well as the French and Spanish). As the 19th century went on, Italians, Irish and Germans settled in the area
The Press St tracks, which mark the boundary between the Marigny and Bywater, also mark the spot (thereÂ¡s a helpful historical sign) where Homer Plessy was arrested by the East Louisiana Railroad for trying to integrate a train car.
In the 1980s, as the French Quarter converted from residential neighborhood to tourism destination, many artists turned heel and fled to first Faubourg Marigny, and then the Bywater and St Roch.
Much of the Bywater came out of Katrina literally high and dry; many desperate citizens (and looters) flocked here after the storm. Today, the construction of the Bywater Arts Lofts, the rebuilding of the St Roch Market and the success of the Healing Center have all done their part to speed the gentrification of the Bywater area. The construction of the new Crescent Park has marked a another milestone in the Bywater’s evolution from bohemian enclave to slightly artsy, family friendly residential area.