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Top 10 Facts about the Famous Bourbon Street in New Orleans


For first time visitors to New Orleans, Bourbon Street is the epitome of party central. At night, Bourbon Street is lit by neon lights, loud music and decorated with beads.

It was named after a royal family in France but there are debates that it was named after the popular American whisky.

Strolling down this famous street, you will meet revellers holding their go cups. It is legal to have alcohol in party cups in New Orleans.

As the most popular street in New Orleans, there are several pubs, dancing party crowds as well as Bourbon branded t-shirts. The street is a cultural landmark and dates back to the 18th century.  

Here are some top facts about Bourbon Street.

1. The Famous Bourbon Street runs parallel to the Mississippi River

Bourbon Street runs parallel to the Mississippi River from the French Quarter’s Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue. In fact, Upper and Lower Bourbon refer to the upriver and downriver flow of the Mississippi.

The street runs through 13 blocks at the heart of the French Quarter.

Its name changes to Carondelet Street past canal street and Pauger Street past Esplanade. Upper Bourbon is near Cana Street while lower Bourbon is near the Esplanade. 

Most nightlife action takes place up the upriver stretch closer to Canal Street. St. Philip Street is primarily residential and quiet.

2. The Architecture along Bourbon Street is simply magnificent

The French Quarter on Bourbon Street is not only historic but also the centre of the street. It is famous for its lively nightlife and brightly coloured buildings with wrought-iron balconies. 

The French Market has epicurean foods as well as local arts and crafts. Next to it is Jackson Square filled with energetic street performers in front of St. Louis Cathedral, one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans.

This is another beautiful architectural masterpiece to checkout on Bourbon Street. The Old Absinthe House building was built in 1806 and functioned as an office building for a family-owned importing firm.

3. This Famous Street was not named after popular American Whisky

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Bourbon Street is named after a royal family of France. Bourbon Street used to be residential for the upper class in the 1800s. There were fancy restaurants on this street too.

Engineer Adrien de Pauger, who is responsible for designing the street as well as the French Quarter, named it in 1721. He called it Rue Bourbon as a tribute to the royal house of Bourbon.

Although Bourbon Street is no longer synonymous with royalty, it still catches the eye of every visitor in New Orleans.

While its name may be associated with the royal family, some people have disputed that. They believe the name originated from Bourbon County in Kentucky.

The popular American whisky is believed to have been named after the street.   

4. It’s the Street to go to for a live Jazz performance

Jazz music was born in Bourbon Street. Artists such as King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton are famous for their jazz performances at the clubs on Bourbon Street.   

A stroll down Bourbon Street will usher you to music on every corner. Jazzy tunes during the day and danceable beats at night.  

The Fritzel European Jazz Club is where to be for old-fashioned jazz. It’s a live jazz performance every night. This building has been around for more than 200 years.

In the past, famous entertainers made a kill playing jazz at the clubs.

5. There are several nightclubs along Bourbon Street than any other street in New Orleans

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The nightclubs along Bourbon Street have been there since the 1940s and 19950s. There were more than 50 burlesque shows as well as exotic dancers.

This street is for the better part of the day very quiet. During the French quarter’s festivals, the street is usually colourful and filled with people.

One popular festival is the annual Mardi Gras. Alcohol consumption on the streets is allowed on the Quarter’s streets.  

Bourbon Street is party central for bachelorette parties, bachelor parties, and birthday celebrations.

6. Bourbon Street is where to be for all gay festivals in New Orleans

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Lafitte-In-Exile is one of the oldest gay bars in the United States. Most of the gay bars are found at the intersection of Bourbon Street and St. Anne’s street.

The Southern Decadence Festival which is held in this famous street hosts an array of gay-friendly festivities. These festivities last for the entire week. It attracts more than 100,000 participants.

Some of the popular clubs include Oz and the Bourbon Pub.

7. Bourbon Street was founded in 1718

The street dates back to 1718 when New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. He was appointed Director-General for developing a colony in the territory.

It was named by a French engineer, Adrien de Pauger in 1721. He named the street after a French Royal family that ruled New Orleans at that time. The French moved to Louisiana in the 1690s.

8. This Street became the entertainment centre in the 19th century

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Bourbon Street became an entertainment strip in the late 19th century towards the early 20th century. The street became less of a residential place and more a party district.

The nightclubs had jazz artists perform live for the revellers. The clubs did not have air conditioning but the people were not bothered.

Dozens of drinking dens were opened along Bourbon Street that offered live music, gambling, and burlesque shows.

9. Bourbon Street used to be one of the most populated in New Orleans

In 1805, about 697 residents of New Orleans lived on Bourbon Street. The Street was heavily populated throughout the Antebellum era. Middle-income families lived on this street.

10. Some of the most popular musicians started at Bourbon Street

Chris Owens has been a part of the show at The Chris Owens Club at 500 Bourbon Street since the 1950s. Now in her 80s she still performs with a backing band.

Aaron Neville is also another famous New Orleans musician. Dr John and Louis Prima, are among dozens of other talented jazz musicians from Bourbon Street.

These musicians worked for several days a week. They would perform for between 2 hours and 8 hours.