Central City is bounded by the Pontchartrain Expressway, Claiborne Avenue, Louisiana Avenue, and St. Charles Avenue (on that section across from the Lower Garden District) or Carondelet Street (on that section across from the Garden District). Jackson Avenue and Washington Avenue are the two main thoroughfares running north and south. The most significant boundary is the Pontchartrain Expressway, because most of its length follows the right-of-way of the New Basin Canal. Many Irish laborers lost their lives in the 1830s digging the canal, and so it was that the first settlers of Central City were also Irish immigrants who came to New Orleans to work on this great venture. Irishmen were not the only working-class immigrants who came here. Thanks to an adequate supply of rental housing, Germans and Jews built churches and synagogues. They also built businesses, especially retail, on Dryades Street.

The streets running north and south in Central City are named for the muses of Greek mythology and also for the numbered streets that continue across St. Charles from the Garden District. The muses are almost all mispronounced by New Orleanians, but for good reason. That's because the French accentuation is different from the Greek. A number of popular restaurants can be found on St. Charles Avenue in Central City, such as Houston's and Straya California Creole Café. Straya is owned by Al Copeland of Popeye's fame. Its opening caused a colorful local feud between Al Copeland and Anne Rice. She complained about the decor, while he claimed she was upset because Straya (formerly a car dealership) was where the Vampire Lestat vanished. Today the core of neighborhood life in Central City is formed around its churches, such as First Street Methodist, First Emanuel Baptist and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church with its magnificent golden spire.