Jackson Square is a historic city park surrounded by original 18th-century buildings. It's still a popular gathering place for local artists and musicians. This city block-sized square was designed by Frenchman Louis Pilié and modeled on Paris’ popular outdoor common areas. Originally called Place d'Armes, it was converted into an open-air mall in 1971 with local vendors selling food, art and crafts.
Walk around Jackson Square today and you won’t find much evidence of its colorful past. Long gone are the gallows that once dispatched defiant slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. Now you can visit shops and museums in the 19th-century Pontalba Apartments, which line two sides of the square. On the northwest of the square enjoy the peaceful interior of St. Louis Cathedral. It’s the oldest continuously working cathedral in the United States. Take in some Louisiana history at the Cabildo and Presbytère, which are part of the Louisiana State Museum and located on either side of the cathedral.
The Jackson Square of today is famous for its collection of resident artists, whose works adorn the pavements and wrought iron fences. Have your portrait painted or buy a caricature from one of the 200 artists allocated a spot in the square each year.
Relax and watch passers-by at nearby Café du Monde, which dates from the 1860s. This historic café is just across the road on Decatur Street and is famous for its café au lait and its sweet pastries, known as beignets.
Throughout the year, Jackson Square is host to a variety of festivals and exhibitions. Enjoy jazz bands and pick up some local food and gifts in the marketplace during the French Quarter Festival held every April. In the few days before Christmas be entertained by carolers who fill the square. This event began in 1946 and attracts thousands of visitors every year, reinforcing Jackson Square’s history for social gathering.
Jackson Square is a bustling part of the French Quarter, and parking can be hard to come by. The square is along several city bus lines.