Mid-City, named for its location between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, is a large, diverse neighborhood bounded by Orleans Avenue, City Park Avenue, the Pontchartrain Expressway and Broad Street. Once referred to as the "back of town", Mid-City is situated on what used to be the back slope of the natural levee of the Mississippi River. This low lying area primarily known for its stagnant water, mosquitoes and yellow fever, remained as unsettled swampland until the 1900’s.
If Mid-City had a hero, it would be Albert Baldwin Wood, who in 1913 developed the screw pump which could pump water out from land below sea level. Once Mid-City proved it could be regularly drained, families, shopkeepers and immigrants moved there from the congested areas of New Orleans. By 1832, industries such as turpentine works and lumberyards were thriving in Mid-City along the New Basin Canal (now Interstate 10) and Canal Street. In 1993, Mid-City was listed on the National Register of Historic Districts, due to its architecturally diverse collection of shotgun, bungalow, Colonial Revival and Italianate homes.
BLENDING OLD WITH NEW
In 2000, the American Can Factory started the trend of apartment developments in Mid-City by converting the tin can factory into an upscale residential complex with retail stores. American Can, where neighbors once gathered to look for factory work, has once again become a place to meet with the addition of the Crescent City Farmers Market.
From 2000 to 2005, Mid-City showed a dramatic increase in single family owner-occupied homes until Hurricane Katrina brought widespread flooding to the area. Since then, Mid-City rolled up its sleeves, renovated the blighted properties left behind, and added more apartment-living. Now “the heart of New Orleans” has truly shown its resilience by rebounding and becoming the second fastest growing neighborhood according to the Data Center, which tracks the New Orleans’ rebound.
Mid-City offers a tapestry of people with a varied social and economic background - a blend of newcomers
with natives, homeowners and apartment dwellers. Amy Freese, Doerr’s Senior Director of Merchandising explained how they provide for Mid-City’s mixed style of living. “On the one hand, we have customers who live in shotguns with only one bedroom wall to work with for the headboard and on the other hand, customers who live in larger spaces, like in the American Can Apartments or Blue Plate Lofts,” she said. “At Doerr, we have a variety of options whether it is to save or expand space.”
Mid City’s recent resurgence can be attributed to returning residents as well as an influx of young professionals that find
the neighborhood easily accessible to the Central Business District. “Regardless of whether you live in a home or apartment, with more work flexibility, people want a home office. And customers are willing to pay a little more for quality and comfort,” Freese said.
With so many ways to stay active in the Mid-City area, from City Park to the new Lafitte Greenway, (a 2.6 mile biking path that runs from Mid-City to the French Quarter), it is no surprise that it has attracted more young people and more contemporary tastes
Mixing the old with the new seems to be the Mid-City mantra, so whether you are visiting its historical cemeteries, iconic landmarks such as The New Orleans Museum of Art or headed to a funky venue such as Rock ‘n’ Bowl, you will find that this neighborhood has a rich history and vibrant future.