In the heart of the French Quarter lies Jackson Square, one of New Orleans’ most famous locations. A National Historic Landmark, it is home to St. Louis Cathedral and is often filled with locals and tourists who come to stroll the paths, catch the buskers and street performers in action, or just sit in the shade and watch the world go by.
Jackson Square, originally known as Place d’Armes, is one of New Orleans’ most storied spots. Built in 1721, it is lined with historic buildings that have played an essential part in the development of the city. On one side, you’ll find the Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase (when the US bought the state of Louisiana from the French) was signed back in 1803. Next door is St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America, while in the center of the square, you’ll find a statue of the seventh US President Andrew Jackson, for whom the square is named.
For more than 50 years, local artists have sold their works in the square, and visitors love to browse the paintings and pick up a souvenir to take home. French Quarter walking, Segway, and carriage tours frequently stop at the square to explore the historic landmarks and learn more about New Orleans’ history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The main entrance to the square is from Decatur Street, opposite the French Market.
- Keep an eye out for the Upper and Lower Pontalba apartment buildings, the oldest such complex in the United States.
- Carriage rides around the French Quarter leave from Jackson Square.
- To find out more about the history of the square and its buildings, you can join a guided New Orleans tour.
How to Get There
Jackson Square is bordered by Chartres, St. Peter, St. Ann, and Decatur streets and is just a short walk away from the Mississippi River. The square is a public park and easily accessible on foot or by public transport (the 5 and 55 bus lines stop at Decatur and St. Peter), or as part of a guided walking tour of the city.
When to Get There
Jackson Square is open seven days a week, from 8am to 7pm in summer and 8am to 6pm in winter.
Enjoy a Beignet and Coffee at Café du Monde
Just across Decatur Street, you’ll find the Café du Monde, a must-visit on any trip to the city. Open 24 hours, people flock here from all over the world to enjoy a sugar-dusted beignet (a fried pastry similar to a doughnut) washed down with a cup of chicory coffee.