Like the whole living city of New Orleans, the Bywater neighborhood is in a constant
state of evolution, with residents whose families have owned their homes for
generations living next door to new transplants. Artist housing and galleries, a
plethora of eclectic eateries and cafes and historic buildings ranging from the grand
to the humble make the Bywater a dynamic and exciting neighborhood.
Tucked alongside the Mississippi River between Faubourg Marigny and Holy Cross, Bywater sits atop some of the earliest land grants in the city. The largest plantation here, known as “La Brasserie,” featured a brewery that historians claim was the first manufacturing enterprise in the city. The land was developed piecemeal starting in 1807, with large residential swaths, but also industrial sites made vibrant by the railroad (which still today defines Bywater’s boundary along Press Street) and the river. The Ursuline nuns built a convent compound near the present-day Industrial Canal in 1826, an early defining development for the area, but they were displaced in 1912 in anticipation of the Canal, which was dug in 1916, dividing Bywater from neighboring Holy Cross.
Though one boundary is a canal that bears this name, Bywater is no longer industrial. Instead, it is the residences — the gorgeous Victorian shotgun homes, Italianate mansions and Creole cottages that line its streets — that define the neighborhood. It is even home to the last 1820s Creole manor house in the city — the Lombard house at 3933 Chartres St., built in 1826. Bywater’s historic fabric has been protected since at least the 1970s, when the Bywater Neighborhood Association first formed. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Crescent Park, which opened in 2015, gives residents and visitors an opportunity to enjoy the riverfront. The park can accessed in Bywater at Piety and Chartres streets, where visitors can climb a steep steel bridge dubbed “the Rusty Rainbow.” The park’s industrial touches speak to the site’s former maritime uses. A myriad of hip, tucked away restaurants and cafes, quirky bars and clubs, independently owned art collectives and traditional galleries keep the neighborhood’s diverse population out and about with options for fun at all hours.
Many thanks to the Preservation Resource Center for providing this wonderful information! (www.prcno.org)