METAIRIE

Metairie was first settled by the French in the 1760s along an area known as Metairie Ridge, a natural levee formed by an ancient branch of the Mississippi River which flowed through modern day River Ridge, Metairie, Gentilly, and New Orleans East. It emptied into Mississippi Sound. The Acolapissa Native Americans used this ridge as a road, and is the oldest road in the New Orleans area. Today, this road, which was paved in the 1920s, is called Metairie Road. An electric streetcar was installed running along Metairie Road in the late 1910s, opening the area to greater development. Upscale housing tracts were constructed off the road in the 1920s; this area is now known as "Old Metairie." It is today the most prestigious area of Metairie. The areas to the north and northwest of Metairie Road were not developed until after World War II. The land between Metairie Ridge and Lake Pontchartrain, which was cypress swamps and marshlands, was drained with the Wood pump. With this new land, Metairie's population grew in the 1940s as a result of cheaper land, lower taxes, and larger lots than in Orleans Parish. The continued growth of Metairie at the expense of New Orleans' population continued in the 1980s when crime was a leading motivation for the migration westward. Hurricane Katrina caused a new migration from Orleans Parish. This migration resulted from the need of housing. It has been a racially neutral migration, with equal numbers of black and white residents moving to Jefferson Parish.

Veterans Boulevard was laid out alongside a drainage canal, and became a commercial center of the region. The Central Business District of Metairie is located on Causeway Blvd near Lake Ponchartrain. Metairie also has one of the handful of major malls located in the New Orleans metro area. Lakeside Shopping Center is the highest grossing mall in the New Orleans metropolitan area. In the 1970s and early 1980s, an area of bars and nightclubs opened in a section of Metairie known as "Fat City." Metairie has a large Mardi Gras season that touts itself as a more family-friendly version of the New Orleans Mardi Gras.