The Bywater Historic District is characterized by a dense nineteenth-century housing stock and industrial structures along the riverfront.
The Bywater Historic District covers a 120-block swath of the dense nineteenth-century Bywater neighborhood, which is located downriver of the Vieux Carré and Faubourg Marigny. The Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) designated the district in June 1993, and today it is roughly bounded by the Mississippi River, Press Street, St. Claude Avenue, and Poland Avenue, with a partially extended boundary on the lakeside of St. Claude Avenue that stretches in some areas as far as North Claiborne Avenue.¹ It is characterized by a high concentration of modest residences, primarily shotguns and Creole cottages, as well as by interspersed commercial pockets and a number of industrial structures along the riverfront.² In the 1830s, after several plantations were subdivided and sold off into speculative lots, the area became known as Faubourg Washington and was gradually populated by working-class Creoles, free people of color, and European immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and Italy.³ In the 1940s, the area was renamed after the local telephone exchange, BYwater.⁴
In 1975, the Bywater Neighborhood Association (BNA) was formed in part to “preserve the architectural and cultural heritage of the neighborhood,” and, the following decade, the association worked with Koch and Wilson Architects to list the Bywater Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.⁵ Today, it is a vibrant residential community with several art galleries, bars, and restaurants. In 2014, the City opened Crescent Park, a public green space that reconnects the neighborhood to the river.⁶
1. Dominique Hawkins and Catherine E. Barrier, “City of New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission: Bywater Historic District,” May 2011; and Bruce Eggler, “Historic districts approved – Algiers, Bywater named,” The Times-Picayune, June 4, 1993.
3. Arthur White, “Bywater: Past and Present,” Preservation in Print 11 no. 6 (August, 1984): 4-5; and Samuel Wilson Jr., “Early History,” in New Orleans Architecture, Volume IV: The Creole Faubourgs, eds. Roulhac Toledano,Sally Kittredge Evans, and Mary Louise Christovich (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 1974), 22.
4. Richard and Marina Campanella, New Orleans Then and Now (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 1999), 166.
5. “Official Proceedings,” The Times-Picayune/The States-Item, October 3, 1985; Bywater Neighborhood Association, “Mission Statement” [link:]; and Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation, “Bywater,” National Register of Historic Places, January 23, 1986.
6. Doug MacCash, “Crescent Park on New Orleans riverfront is a severe masterpiece,” nola.com, February 27, 2014.