Visitors to New Orleans who are looking for a taste of the city’s rich cultural heritage will find plenty to see and do within the boundaries of the Irish Channel. This neighborhood, a sub-district of the Central City/Garden District Area, is bordered by the Mississippi River to the South, Napoleon Avenue to the west, Tcholupitoulas, Toledano and Magazine Streets to the north and First Street to the east. The neighborhood, which is smaller than 1 square mile in size, is also a high elevation point within the city of New Orleans.
If you have a chance to explore the Irish Channel neighborhood, you will still see many examples of 19th century working and middle class residential architecture. This includes the narrow and deep “shotgun houses” for which the area is known. The area, as implied by the name, was settled predominantly by Irish immigrants who came to America in the early 1800s. The Irish Channel was always a melting pot, however, with people of German, African America and Italian heritage, among others.
The residents of the Irish Channel neighborhood were employed primarily by the port of New Orleans or local breweries. Once shipping practices became more modernized, the need for these types of jobs fell off, and the demographics of the area changed. The neighborhood still hosts festivities around St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club hosts a parade up Magazine Street. There is also a pre-parade mass to honor the much loved Irish saint.
Today, the Irish Channel is known as an eclectic area that includes people of all different walks of life, ethnicity and income level. There are still a great many families who have lived in the Channel for generations. The neighborhood has experienced a recent revitalization, due in part to its higher elevation. At 7 feet, it was spared the disastrous flooding that was visited on the city during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.