A Tour of the New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar Line

Two green streetcars heading downtown on St. Charles Ave. with church steeple in background.

Taking a ride on the streetcar

 

Day by day, the St. Charles Streetcar whirrs and clanks down the tracks, pervading the soundscape of Uptown New Orleans just steps from Southern Comfort Bed & Breakfast. Like the New York City subway, the streetcar’s distinct rumble and brakes can be heard from several blocks away. The oldest operating rail system in the country, this line of historic, green streetcars is an iconic piece of New Orleans’ colorful backdrop.

The line begins at S. Carrollton and Claiborne avenues at the front of Palmer Park, home of the monthly Arts Market. Traveling up Carrollton’s tree-lined neutral ground, streetcar riders pass a number of large, classic homes. Carrollton Station, a streetcar barn where the “Green Ladies” go to rest, is nestled just passed the crisscrossed tracks at Willow St. Beyond Willow stretches a more commercially condensed strip of shops and restaurants, with menu fare from all corners of the globe—Mexican, Lebanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian, Creole, classic American, and everything in between.

At the edge of Carrollton, the streetcar line turns onto St. Charles Ave in a neighborhood known as the Riverbend, named for its curvature parallel to the Mississippi River levee. More beautiful, oak-lined streets give way to the stoic, historical structures of Tulane and Loyola Universities, with the luscious, inviting greenery of Audubon Park across the street.

Continuing down the avenue, hundreds of gorgeous, stately mansions and quaint 19th century homes of all architectural styles and colors stand proudly. These mansions are one of the most popular and beloved sights of New Orleans, and some of the best sights of the streetcar line. If you have a moment, step off the car for a quick walk to really take in the grandeur of these spectacular structures.

Where St. Charles crosses Napoleon Ave, give a wave to Southern Comfort B&B a few blocks away, and continue to enjoy the marvelous mansions as you make your way closer to downtown. Around Louisiana Ave and closer to the interstate are patches of bustling businesses, including restaurants, bars, and other commercial fare. Voodoo BBQ, Slice Pizzeria, Emeril’s Delmonico, Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro, Igor’s Bar, and Avenue Pub are just a few of the many, many food and beverage offerings lining St. Charles Avenue.

Passed the I-10, the streetcar line ends in the Central Business District at Canal St, where towering buildings and warehouses eventually give way to the infamous French Quarter. You can ride the entire line for just $1.25 per person, with a transfer fee for the Canal St or Riverfront lines for $.50. Passengers with disabilities or two and under ride for free.

On your next visit to New Orleans, take an afternoon to ride up and down the St. Charles Streetcar line—particularly in the fall and spring months, where the breeze from the cracked-open windows is indescribably relaxing and exhilarating.

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