BAYOU ST JOHN/CITY PARK

The Bayou St. John neighborhood is an area that is actually composed of parts of two other sections in New Orleans, the Esplanade Ridge and Parkview. Bayou St. John/City Park is perhaps a better nomenclature for the area of charming homes clustered along this historic bayou. City Park Avenue and Orleans form two of its boundaries while Bayou St. John, with its homes on either side, wraps around to form the two other sides. Some tend to include the City Park end of Esplanade Ridge starting at North Broad and extending north to the Fair Grounds.

The word bayou comes from the Choctaw name for minor streams, bayuk. Fort St. John guarded the mouth of the bayou at Lake Pontchartrain later to become a resort and amusement area at Old Spanish Fort. The bayou is believed to be a result of a geologic fault in the earth's surface, since the bayou has no natural banks. It became the raison d'être in 1718 for the city of New Orleans. That was because the bayou (along with an ancient Indian trail, or portage) created a connecting link between the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain. In the pre-steamboat days, ships preferred to use the lake and bayou rather than battle the currents of the river.

In 1866, the city began using the bayou as a drainage canal, and houseboats soon formed a community along it. By 1936, the bayou was declared a non-navigable stream. The Old Spanish Custom House at 1300 Moss is part of concessions granted to Antoine Rivard de La Vigne in 1708. He, his wife and six children, were still living at this site according to the census taken by Diron D'Artaguiette in late 1721. The Pitot House at 1440 Moss is named for the first elected mayor of New Orleans. Built in 1799, this West Indies-style home is a museum open to the public.

The European dome of Our Lady of the Rosary can be seen over Cabrini High School's shoulder. Cabrini is on Moss Street by the bridge. It is here that "Christmas on the Bayou" is held each year with carols and a visit by Santa in his pirogue. In addition to these older structures the area has cottages, some with classical columns and others with Victorian gingerbread-framed porches.

The neighborhood has imposing homes, as well as needing-renovation bungalows at affordable prices. A strong neighborhood association, great architecture and an area rich in history are just some of the area's strong points. The tree-shaded area is near to cozy restaurants, shops, coffee houses and the Whole Foods Market. The close proximity to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art, not the mention the unparalleled beauty of the bayou, makes this neighborhood a favorite place to call home. You also have easy access to the Interstate, the French Quarter and the Central Business District.