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Bywater Bywater Neighborhood Guide

This eclectic and vibrant neighborhood has the old-time, laid-back charm and a mix of multiple-generation locals with recent arrivals.

Primarily residential yet unflinchingly hip, this neighborhood, located just east downriver from the French Quarter, is a healthy mix of edgy art galleries, organic eateries, funky wine bars, and colorful architecture that’s unique to New Orleans. Rather than being built anew, the Bywater’s architectural medley of colonial French and Spanish (with Caribbean influences) has instead been lovingly preserved and stylishly updated.

The result is a funky, friendly mix of the perceived trappings of hipsterdom (juice bars serving organic avocado toast) and the old-school bohemia with its artistic bent and DIY renovation genius. Expect to pay, on average, $309 per square foot.

Read on to learn more about this neighborhood’s residents, notable features, hotspots, and history. Are you looking to buy a house in the Bywater, New Orleans? Our experienced Realtors can make the home-buying process seamless and swift. Contact us online or call (504) 483-8884 to discuss your real estate needs and goals.

Where Is Bywater Exactly?

The Bywater is a sub-district of Bywater District Area. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, its total area is 1.33 sq. mi.

The Bywater’s boundaries, as defined by the City Planning Commission, are:

  • North: Florida Avenue
  • East: Industrial Canal
  • West: Press Street
  • South: Mississippi River

What’s to Love About The Bywater?

On the same street, you can get New York style pizza done right by a transplant chef, and dance in a 1950s dive to New Orleans’ own musical royalty going back three generations performing their weekly gig. The Bywater’s microcosm gives you a perfectly encapsulated glimpse of things that were, but also where New Orleans culture is headed. There is indeed plenty to love about Bywater:

Green Spaces and Scenic Views of the Mississippi River: The recently completed Crescent Park at Piety and Chartres streets is a 1.4 mile, 20-acre park situated along the river. It’s marked by a rust-colored bridge and offers trails, bike paths, a dog run, and picnic areas. Another green space in the area, the newly renovated Mickey Markey Playground, is a popular spot for picnics and kid playtime as well as a hangout during some annual events, such as the Naked Bike Ride.
St. Claude Avenue: This gem is lined with dozens of art galleries and live-music venues. Some of most interesting, edgiest galleries are located there (Good ChildrenBarrister’sThe Front), plus a cluster of some of the best performing spaces in the city — on any given night — for indie bands, DJ nights, burlesque, and experimental music and theater shows (the AllWays Lounge & TheaterHi-Ho LoungeSiberia).
It’s Trendy and Culturally Diverse: Enjoy the ongoing influx of restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques, thanks to the population that is a mix of transplants and long-term residents.
Accessibility and Ease of Navigation: Bywater’s walk score is a high 83 out of 100. It’s also a biker’s paradise with the score of 92. And it’s a pleasant, 10-block stroll from the French Quarter.
Unique Architecture: From Italianate mansions to Greek Revival to the colorful Creole cottages and classic shotguns, urban renewal has been good to this area. The most common building types are one-story single and double shotguns, many painted in bright Caribbean colors.

The Many Prides and Pearls of The Bywater

There are good reasons people from out of town are choosing Bywater as their new home. In addition to the many live-music venues and galleries along St. Claude Avenue, the area sports some of the most innovative restaurants in the city, plus quite a few iconic dives and unique New Orleans establishments. Here are a few of our highlights.

  • NOCCA presents theater productions and training seminars for the culinary arts, dance, writing, and more.
  • The Music Box is a pioneer that doubles as a music lab and a music venue with a treehouse stage, and whose very interactive environment is made to create music. Since its opening in 2016, the space on North Rampart Street has hosted performances with Wilco, Tank & The Bangas, and Nora Jones as surprise guests.
  • The Healing Center, on the corner of St. Claude and St. Roch, is a multi-story community center that contains restaurants, a bookstore, a botanica, a performance space, a co-op, and more.
  • Piety Street Market in the old ironworks has an indoor-outdoor art and flea market on the second Saturday every month, with vintage and handmade goods, live music, food pop-ups, and lots of crafts, all locally made.
  • The Joint. Grab some heavenly brisket and eat it on the wooden bench in this neighborhood BBQ spot.
  • For the unforgettable country brunch head to Elizabeth’s, located on the corner of Gallier and Chartres, deep in the heart of the Bywater. We like to think it’s worth the wait thanks to its Creole and southern deliciousness and generous Bloody Marys. Two words: praline bacon.
  • A gleaming food hall in a revamped 1875 market, Roch Market offers lots of Gulf seafood and other Southern fare, plus outdoor seating.
  • Tucked away on Poland Avenue in a residential section is the unforgettable Bacchanal, self-proclaimed as “NOLA’s backyard party,” with the enchanting garden to match.
  • Drink where the neighbors drink at Vaughn’s Lounge, a dive bar made even more famous by Kermit Ruffins’ weekly standing gig.

A Brief History of Bywater, New Orleans

The Bywater didn’t evolve into a vibrant creativity-centered hotspot until the 1980s, eventually drawing comparisons to Brooklyn’s Bushwick and touted by Billboard as New Orleans’ “Hottest Neighborhood.” Until residential development began on predominantly Francophone plantation land, the area now called the Bywater was first called Faubourg Washington and, later, Little Saxony. The settlers were the usual New Orleans mix of Creoles and free people of color, joined by Italian, Irish, and German immigrants in the 19h century. Until the Industrial Canal was dredged in the early 20th century, the Bywater was inseparable from the area now called the Lower 9th Ward.

The Bywater is also home to the site where Homer Plessy was removed from an East Louisiana Railroad car in 1892 for violating the separate car act (Plessy v. Ferguson case). A historical marker at Press and Royal streets commemorates this event.

The 1980s saw an influx of residents, many of whom were part of the bohemian community, moving from the French Quarter farther downriver to the Bywater, St. Roch, and the Marigny. The gentrification of the neighborhood continues as its popularity and livability grow.