FAUBOURG MARIGNY

That More Bohemian Extension Of The French Quarter.


Antoine Jacques Phillippe de Marigny de Mandeville Painted in his officer's uniform from the Orleans Lancers of the Louisiana Militia. Portrait is oil on canvas in the French Neoclassical tradition. Now located in the Louisiana State Museum.

A History of the Faubourg Marigny Historic District
Faubourg Marigny is named for the plantation's last owner, Bernard Xavier Phillippe de Marigny de Mandeville (1785-1868), the son of Count Pierré Enguerrand Phillippe de Mandeville, Ecuyer Sieur de Marigny, Chevalier de St. Louis (1750-1800), and grandson of Antoine Jacques Phillippe de Marigny de Mandeville.
Marigny plantation was owned by one of the wealthiest families in the New World. Their plantation house stood near the foot of Elysian Fields and was described as being nearly twice the size of other plantation homes. Money was spent freely by its owners. Legend has it that Pierré poured 1000 silver dollars into the melting pot from which his plantation bell was cast to give it a sweeter tone. The bell today is in the Cabildo Museum, property of the Louisiana State Museum.
In 1798, Louis Phillippe, Duc d'Orleans (who became King Louis Phillippe in 1830) and his two brothers, the Duc de Montpesier and the Compte de Beaujolais, visited the plantation. They were lavishly entertained. One story recounts that special gold dinner ware was made for the occasion of the Duc d'Orleans visit and was thrown into the river afterward because no one would be worthy of using it again! The Marquis de Lafayette was another famous person who was a guest at the Marigny Plantation in 1825.
When Pierre died in 1800, his son, Bernard (then 15 years old), became one of, if not "the", richest man in the new world. He inherited 7 million dollars (remember, these were '1800' dollars--he would have been a multi-billionaire in today's currency!).
Bernard went to London to finish his business education and returned to New Orleans in 1803 bringing a new game called "Craps" which he introduced to America. The game was initially called "Le Crapaud", meaning "the frog", because of the position the players assumed while playing it.
As early as the 1790's a few parcels of land in the Marigny Plantation had been developed, but in 1805 Bernard de Marigny began subdividing the plantation and Faubourg Marigny was created. New Orleans first 'suburb', was settled primarily by Creoles, free men of color and new arrivals from Europe.
The Pontchartrain Railroad, the first railroad west of the Alleghenies (and second oldest in the country), was completed in 1831 running along Elysian Fields from the river to the resort area at Milneburg on Lake Pontchartrain. The line was nick named "Smoky Mary" because the train was fuelled by coal which belched smoke and left a sooty residue in its path. The rail was later converted to electric but was discontinued and the tracks removed in the 1950's.
Bernard de Marigny named the new streets of his faubourg including one he called "Craps" because of his passion for the game. The name was later changed to Burgundy since the street address was a source of constant embarrassment to the four churches located on that street.
The invention of the steam engine, the rise of cotton and sugar cane as large export crops, and development of New Orleans as a major port brought new immigrants and great wealth. Such wealth, that between 1830 and 1862, New Orleans was the wealthiest city in North America and the fifth largest city in the United States.
In 1836, Faubourg Marigny was chartered as a separate city governed by its own council. This continued until 1852 when the three cities now known as the Vieux Carré, Faubourg St. Mary and Faubourg Marigny were again consolidated into a single city government.
Bernard de Marigny planned the Champs Elysee (Elysian Fields) as the city's premier boulevard running from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. Marigny envisioned Elysian Fields as a park-like esplanade with trees, shrubbery and graceful landscaping. It is said that he planned a winding waterway with swan boats floating gracefully along.
Interruption of trade during the 'War of Northern Aggression' (called the "War Between the States" by Yankees!), staggering taxes levied by the federal government following the war, and a depression in the late 1870's quashed the grand design for Elysian Fields. It does, however, remain one of the wider thoroughfares in the city.
Following World War II, returning GI's received low interest rates for purchasing "new construction" in the suburbs and Marigny fell into a decline as did many inner city neighborhoods across the country. On December 31, 1974, Faubourg Marigny was placed on the Register of Historic Places. The Faubourg's decline continued, however, reaching low ebb in the late 1980's. With a change in federal policy promoting revitalization of inner city neighborhoods across the country and providing low interest loans to those purchasing older homes, Marigny began a revival in the 1990's.
Today, Faubourg Marigny is experiencing renewed interest from investors and home owners alike. The Faubourg is dotted with guesthouses, a number of restaurants have opened equal to any in the French Quarter for good food, and a number of entertainment venues are offered. Many French Quarter employees have discovered Marigny as a great place to live and tourists have found more interesting and less expensive lodgings among its guesthouses. A surge in renovations has begun to transform Marigny from the decaying ghetto it had become into an upscale, smart place to live and visit.
Despite fires, floods and hurricanes, Marigny has maintained many of its structures and is proud to show them off to visitors during the Faubourg Marigny Home Tour held annually in May. Running parallel to Elysian Fields, Frenchmen Street is rapidly developing as a restaurant and entertainment area and quite a number of good and reasonably priced restaurants, coffee houses and bars have sprung up providing food and beverage within a few blocks of our door.

Welcome To Marigny. Come And Enjoy!
*Thanks to Scott Graves, "Beautiful Crescent" by Garvey and Widmer and from various Faubourg Marigny Association newsletters!