The Bayou Road district is known by many for its unique collection of small businesses and organizations, its fascinating history, and most importantly, for the sense of community, the culture, and food.
Bayou Road was laid along the historic portage route from Bayou Saint John to the Mississippi River. The portage permitted travelers to land upriver of New Orleans along the bayou and then journey down to the River for trade. The route was shown to European settlers by Native Americans who had established a trading ground at the location of the historic LeBreton Market – halfway between the bayou and the French Quarter.
As plantations were divided and developed in the area, much of the historic road was incorporated into other streets, but the distinctive diagonal section of the brick road survived. Cutting across the regular street grid, Bayou Road connects several neighborhoods – Treme, the Seventh Ward, Bayou Saint John, and the Fairgrounds.
Urban out-migration and disinvestment in the mid-20th century plagued Bayou Road – St Rose de Lima School closed, the market shut down, and many shops went out of business. Reggae music filled in some of the empty space along Bayou Road in the 1980s and ‘90s and a few street vendors catering to reggae crowd decided to lease or buy their own storefronts in the area. The neighborhood naturally took on an Afro-Caribbean vibe.
Since Hurricane Katrina, music and art have gained a stronger foothold in the area through shops, artist support programs, and the presence of cultural bearers. In recent years, several notable rehabilitation projects are have taken place to revive the resources and legacies that have defined this historic section of New Orleans.