Thomas Jefferson remarked that "there is on the Globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy." In an attempt to secure New Orleans and its commanding location, Jefferson brought about the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After the transfer, Americans came in large numbers and settled apart from the earlier French community. Across the neutral ground of Canal Street, and upriver from the Vieux Carré, was the Faubourg St. Mary. It today forms the Central Business District of New Orleans, or as the natives say, the CBD. The lower line of the Faubourg St. Mary was Common Street, which was the upper line of the Commons, or neutral area two blocks wide between the French and the Americans.

The CBD today includes the Commons (with Canal Street in the middle), which makes its downriver boundary Iberville Street. Its other borders are approximately the Riverfront, the Expressway and Claiborne Avenue. Before the Americans started settling in this area, the Faubourg St. Mary was the site of Monsieur Bienville's home and later that of the Jesuits when Bienville left Louisiana in 1743. Bienville's grant actually ran from Common Street upriver to the present Jefferson Parish line. After the Jesuits, a public sale took place and the Pradel family bought the biggest slice of what is now the CBD. It was sold to André Renard whose wife, Marie, married Bertrand Gravier after André died. Bertrand named his property Faubourg Ste. Marie for his wife, and the name has remained long after American domination. Lots were subdivided, and most of the streets were named during Spanish rule. Carondelet and Baronne were named for the governor and his wife, while St. Charles was in honor of Carlos III, King of Spain. There is a Gravier and a Common Street, while Poydras has become a beautiful corporate boulevard since t he mid-1960s. The Super Dome is also on Poydras, named for Julian Poydras who bought the first lot in the Faubourg St. Mary. Residential life in the early nineteenth century centered around Lafayette Square. Today a statue of Henry Clay, which once stood on Canal Street at St. Charles, graces this park. There is also a statue of Franklin, but no Lafayette. Commerce and industry in the early days concentrated in the Warehouse District and in the area of Picayune Place. Later on, Canal Street became the major thoroughfare of the city, as well as one of the widest boulevards in the country. A canal was planned from the very beginning of New Orleans as a settlement, but it was never built. Through the years, countless Mardi Gras parades, streetcars and tourists have traveled up and down its wide expanse. On Canal could be found the first motion picture theatre in America, Maison Blanche and D. H. Holmes with its Confederacy of Dunces clock. The buildings still stand, but with different uses. Today there are luxury hotels, businesses, retail shopping and restaurants. Office Towers and banks are also a vital part of the CBD. In the Warehouse District, which has flourished since the 1984 World's Fair as an urban residential area, there are apartments, galleries, restaurants, museums and hotels. Offices and stores blend beautifully, and the area is flanked by the Rouse Riverwalk shopping mall (140 stores with a magnificent view of the river) and the vast Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Between Loyola and Claiborne is the area of the CBD that is home to City Hall, the Super Dome, hotels, shopping, corporate office centers and a huge major medical complex (which includes Tulane University Medical Center and Medical School, Charity Hospital and LSU Medical School - all on Tulane Avenue, a continuation of Common Street).