St Roch – New Orleans, LA

The scene is fairly typical New Orleans: Narrow streets, flanked by sidewalks, frame a series of shotgun houses with small front porches. Palm trees and live oak trees dot the area like living sculptures molded by the wind. This is St. Roch, a popular neighborhood situated between the 7th Ward and the Desire Area. It is minutes from the French Quarter, Dillard University, and New Orleans City Park. The Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots is located to the west of the neighborhood. The city was named for Saint Roch's Camp Santo. After a yellow fever epidemic in 1867, a priest arrived to New Orleans from Germany. Reverend Peter Leonard Thevis turned to the patron saint of good health, Saint Roch. He told his parishioners that if they managed to make it through the epidemic without getting sick, he would build a chapel, shrine, and cemetery. Everyone made it through the crisis, and Thevis built the landmarks. Visitors to the shrine often leave behind items as a thank you to St. Roch.

Restaurants & Nightlife

The place to go in St. Roch is the landmark St. Roch Market. The market was first built as an open-air market in 1875. Today, the market is a Southern food hall with 13 vendors, providing indoor seating as well as outdoor patios. The market serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a variety of Creole dishes, happy hour drink specials, and live music nights. Some of the restaurants include Fritai, which serves Haitian street food; T2 Streetfood, a Vietnamese restaurant serving pho, banh mi, and roti; the farm-to-table St. Roch Forage; Good Bird, which serves free-range chicken dishes; and the Mayhaw, which serves cocktails, beer, and wine. While the St. Roch Market is the most popular dining destination, it isn't the only place to get great food in St. Roch. Be sure to stop by Melba's Old School Po Boys, Chinese Inn, Kebab, and the Hi-Ho Lounge. When you're in the mood for rum tasting, head to Celebration Distillation: Old New Orleans Rum. After taking a tour of the distillery, you can visit the tasting room and the bottle shop.

History & Culture

Around 1800, Bernard de Marigny inherited an old plantation from his father. Since the city was rapidly expanding, Marigny decided to develop the back portion of his plantation for new residents. He called his new settlement Faubourg Nouveau Marigny (New Marigny). It remained New Marigny until Reverend Thevis built the St. Roch shrine and the city was renamed. Some residents are trying to bring back the New Marigny name; it is the name of a historic district located in St. Roch. This historic district is located west from St. Ferdinand Street, with Tonti Street to the north and St. Claude to the south. St. Bernard Avenue forms the eastern border of the historic district, which covers 5,500 acres. In 2005, much of St. Roch was flooded due to Hurricane Katrina. The neighborhood's population decreased by 56 percent after the hurricane, but it is slowly coming back as a trendy neighborhood. The historic homes are being restored, and as shops and restaurants open all over the area, new residents are moving in. St. Roch is part of the popular Bywater district.

Transportation

St. Roch is located a little over two miles northeast of the French Quarter. For drivers, there are several routes to get to the Quarter, including I-10, which passes through the neighborhood. Other roads include Rampart Street and Elysian Fields Avenue. If you prefer mass transit, catch the 57 bus on Franklin Avenue or the 55 bus along Elysian Fields Avenue. New Orleans is very bicycle and pedestrian-friendly, but if you want to be able to walk to the French Quarter, find your St. Roch apartment along the south side of the neighborhood, closer to St. Roch Market. This will put your walk at just about 1.2 miles; take the 57 or 88 bus when you want to ride instead.

Cost

Even though costs are on the rise in this up-and-coming neighborhood, you can still get a great deal on an apartment in St. Roch. The average rent here is about $635, slightly less than the New Orleans average of $765. If you decide to buy one of the charming bungalows or shotgun houses in the neighborhood, the average price in St. Roch is $140,000. By comparison, the New Orleans average is $262,000. Larger employers in the St. Roch area include Dillard University, Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, and St. Roch Market. Many residents travel outside the neighborhood for work. The Central Business District is just over three miles from the St. Roch neighborhood, with the 84 bus available for car-free commuting.

Shopping

Along St. Claude Avenue, you'll find a variety of art galleries, thrift stores, and specialty shops. You could, for example, pick up a few items at the New Orleans Food Co-Op before getting a tattoo at Treasure Tattoo. Then, if you're feeling inspired, you could head to Byrdie's Pottery Studio and take a class in wheel throwing. The French Market is only about a mile or so from St. Roch. This market, which dates back to the 1700s, provides a variety of locally-owned shops and boutiques, a daily flea market, and a bi-weekly farmer's market. Travel along the Riverwalk to discover upscale shops at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, or stroll along Canal Street for a variety of unique shopping destinations.

Parks

At the center of the neighborhood sits St. Roch Park. As a central gathering location for the neighborhood, this park contains a playground, a basketball court, open green space, and a ball field. Head a few block south of the neighborhood and enjoy the views from Crescent Park. This park has walking/jogging trails, bike paths, pavilions, and a dog run. The Crescent Park Bazaar is held in the park. This outdoor market is hosted by the French Market Corporation and it features local food trucks, artists, and more. The bazaar is held once a month at the Mandeville Wharf.
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