Elevation: 3 ft (0.9 m)
Coordinates: 29°57′46″N 90°02′24″W
Area:1.33 sq mi (3.4 km2)
land 0.94 sq mi (2 km2)
*water*0.39 sq mi (1 km2), 29.32%
Population: As of the census of 2010, there were 3,337 people, 1,763 households, and 573 families residing in the neighborhood.
Area code: 504
Boundaries: Florida Avenue to the north, the Industrial Canal to the east, the Mississippi River to the south and Franklin Avenue Street to the west.
- Madi Gras-During Mardi Gras the Society of Saint Anne marching krewe starts their procession on Mardi Gras morning in Bywater and gathers marchers as it travels through the French Quarter and ends at Canal Street. This walking parade of local residents, artists, and performers is preceded by the Bywater Bone Boys Social Aid and Pleasure Club (founded 2005), an early-rising skeleton krewe made up of writers, tattoo artists, painters, set designers, musicians, and numerous other pre-7 a.m. revelers.
- Sallie Ann Glassman artist, Voodoo priestess
- Dave Pirner of the 90s Grunge band Soul Asylum
- Ani DiFranco musician
Many survivors flocked to the area as it was less affected by the storm, due to the slightly higher elevation closer to the Mississippi river. Bywater became part of what was known as the “Sliver By The River”, meaning neighborhoods that saw no flooding.
The area now known as Bywater was mostly plantation land in the Colonial era, with significant residential development beginning the first decade of the 19th century as part of what was known as “Faubourg Washington”, part of the predominantly Francophone “Downtown” section of New Orleans. Many people from France, Spain and the French Caribbean settled here. During the century, it grew with both White Creoles of French and Spanish descent, as well as mixed race Creoles of French, Spanish, African and Native American descent. They were also joined by immigrants from Germany, Italy and Ireland.
There was little distinction between this area and what became known as the Lower 9th Ward until the Industrial Canal was dredged in the early 20th century, dividing the two.
Historical marker placed at Press and Royal Streets commemorating the planned arrest of Homer Plessy on June 7, 1892.
A generation knew the area as the “Upper 9th Ward”, but as other parts of the 9th Ward above the Canal farther from the River became developed, a more specific name was needed. Inspired by the local telephone exchange designation of Bywater, which fit the neighborhood’s proximity to the River and the Canal, the neighborhood was known as “Bywater” by the 1940s.
Development and speculation surrounding the 1984 World’s Fair prompted many long-term French Quarter residents to move down river, at first into Marigny, but by the late 1990s the bohemian artistic type of communities such as were found in the French Quarter mid-century had spread down to Bywater, and many long-neglected 19th century houses began to be refurbished.
The Bywater is also home to the site at which Homer Plessy was removed from an East Louisiana Railroad car for violating the separate car act, an event that resulted in the Plessy v. Ferguson case and the legal doctrine of “separate but equal.” Today, a historical marker stands at the intersection of Press Street and Royal Street to commemorate the event.
The Bywater, along with neighboring Faubourg Marigny, are two of the most colorful neighborhoods in New Orleans. The Architectural styles borrow heavily from the colonial French and Spanish and has elements of the Caribbean, this unique blending of architectural elements over the last three centuries has resulted in an architectural style unique to the city of New Orleans.