Jackson Square – The Heart of the French Quarter

Jackson Square is certainly one of the top places to see in New Orleans. It is a small, but beautiful park with a whole lot of history. It was declared a Historical Landmark in 1960, for its central role in the city’s history, and as the site where in 1803 Louisiana was made United States territory after the Louisiana Purchase. In 2012 the American Planning Association designated Jackson Square as one of America’s Great Public Spaces.

The architect and landscape architect Louis H. Pilie designed Jackson Square after the famous 17th-century Place des Voges in Paris, France. Jackson Square is roughly the size of a city block.

Sculptor Clark Mills equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and seventh U.S. President for whom the former military parade ground was named, was erected in 1856. Iron fences, walkways, benches, and Parisian-style landscaping remain intact from the original design by Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba, in 1851. She also built the Pontalba Buildings, which flank the old square.

The flagpole, symbolizing the 1803 ceremonial transfers from Spain to France and then from France to the United States, reflects Louisiana’s colonial history. During the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) repainted façades, renovated buildings, and improved landscaping in and around the park. In 1971, the pedestrian zone in the vicinity of Jackson Square was created, when three surrounding streets were closed to vehicular traffic on Chartres, St. Peter, and St. Ann.

From the 1920s through the 1980s the square was famous as a gathering place of painters of widely varying talents, including professionals, art students, amateurs, and caricaturists.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the beginnings of the Square as a place of business for New Age and pagan devotees telling fortunes and reading palms and tarot cards. They sit on St. Ann or St. Peter Street, alongside of the park. Chartres St., in front of Saint Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo, is shared by visitors and artists, musicians, and varied street performers, such as jugglers and magicians. The performers generally work for tips. 

Jackson Square   751 Decatur Street  New Orleans, LA 7018

Hours: 7 days a week, 8am-6pm in the winter, and 8am-7pm during Daylight Savings Time       There are no Public Restrooms

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