New Orleans Architecture Guide

Thanks to its diverse cultural heritage, for centuries New Orleans has been known for its stunning array of eye-catching buildings. From Greek Revival to classic Victorian to Queen Anne styles, few other cities in the world can compete with the Big Easy’s architectural masterpieces. Here are some must-see highlights.

French Quarter
Many of NOLA’s top architectural gems are found in the historic French Quarter. This area is known for its creole cottages—single-story structures with pitched roofs and stucco or wood exteriors, typically built from 1790 to 1850—as well as taller creole townhouses. The latter are characterized by their iron balconies, steep side-gabled roofs, and brick or stucco facades.

Garden District
The historic Garden District, another of the city’s iconic neighborhoods, boasts equally impressive architecture. Many of the double-gallery houses here date back to the mid-19th century and are recognizable by their covered two-story galleries framed by columns—the New Orleans version of the American townhouse built at a time when the area was considered a suburb of the city.

St. Charles Avenue
Leafy and residential St. Charles Avenue is lined with stately oaks and grand mansions dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Nicknamed “the Jewel of America’s Grand Avenues,” St. Charles is home to one of the best collections of historic mansions in the South with many architectural styles represented, including Greek Revival, colonial, Victorian, Italianate, and Queen Anne.

Throughout New Orleans
No matter where you are in New Orleans, you’ll likely see what’s called a shotgun house, the city’s predominant type of residential building. These narrow, single-story structures, typically no more than 12 feet (3.5 meters) wide, were popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their wooden exteriors are often adorned with lacy Victorian ornamentation.

New Orleans–Area Plantations
At one point in the city’s history, thanks to the cotton industry there were more millionaires in New Orleans than in any other city in the United States. This great wealth led to the construction of numerous Antebellum plantations along Louisiana’s River Road, well worth an excursion from the city.
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