Canal Street, New Orleans

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Canal Street (French: rue du canal) is a major thoroughfare in the city of New Orleans. Forming the upriver boundary of the city's oldest neighborhood, the French Quarter or Vieux Carré, it served historically as the dividing line between the colonial-era (18th-century) city and the newer American Sector, today's Central Business District.

Canal Street, looking away from the river, 1920s
Canal Street at night 2006, same view as the 1920s depiction, looking toward Mid-City
Streetcars on Canal Street, looking toward the river at Bourbon Street, May 2013
Canal Street, looking toward the river, December 2005, a veritable ghost town.
Canal Street and South Rampart Street

Up until the early 1800s, it was the Creoles who lived in the Vieux Carré. After the Louisiana Purchase (1803), a large influx of other cultures began to find their way into the city via the Mississippi River. A number of Americans from Kentucky and other Midwestern states moved into the city and settled uptown.[1] Along the division between these two cultures, a canal was planned. The canal was never built but the street which took its place received the name.[2] Furthermore, the median of the street became known as the neutral ground, acknowledging the cultural divide. To this day, all medians of New Orleans streets are called neutral grounds.[1]

One end of Canal Street terminates at the Mississippi River. Often called "the foot of Canal Street", at the riverfront the Canal Street Ferry offers a connection to the Algiers Point neighborhood, an older, 18th-century portion of the larger Algiers section of New Orleans. Canal Street's other terminus is in Mid-City at a collection of cemeteries. Slightly offset from the Mid-City end is the beginning of Canal Boulevard, which extends to the shore of Lake Pontchartrain via the Lakeview neighborhood.[3] Throughout its length, Canal, which runs east and west, serves as a dividing line for cross streets running north and south; although the New Orleans layout follows the Mississippi River.

The street has three lanes of traffic in both directions, with a pair of streetcar tracks in the center. Canal Street's downtown segment serves as the hub of the city's public transit system or RTA, with numerous streetcar and bus route terminals. (Of note, it is the home of the Canal Streetcar Line, operated by the RTA.)

Canal Street is often said to be the widest roadway in America to have been called a street, instead of the avenue or boulevard titles more typically appended to wide urban thoroughfares.[citation needed]

  1. ^ a b McKinney, Louise (2006). New Orleans: A Cultural History. Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Lewis, Peirce (2003). New Orleans: The Making of an Urban Landscape. Center for American Places.
  3. ^ New Orleans Maps (2012) Downtown Development District. Retrieved 2012-05-07.

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