New Orleansis a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The population of the city was 343,829 as of the 2010 U.S. Census. The New Orleans metropolitan area had a population of 1,167,764 in 2010 and was the 46th largest in the United States.
The city is named after the Duke of Orleans, who reigned as Regent for Louis XV from 1715 to 1723, as it was established by French colonists and strongly influenced by their and African cultures. It is well known for its distinct French and Spanish Creole architecture, as well as its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage. New Orleans is also famous for its cuisine, music, and its annual celebrations and festivals, most notably Mardi Gras, dating to French colonial times. The city is often referred to as the "most unique" in the United States.
New Orleans is located in southeastern Louisiana, straddling the Mississippi River. The city and Orleans Parish are coterminous. The city and parish are bounded by the parishes of St. Tammany to the north, St. Bernard to the east, Plaquemines to the south, and Jefferson to the south and west. Lake Pontchartrain, part of which is included in the city limits, lies to the north and Lake Borgne lies to the east.
The Central Business District of New Orleans is located immediately north and west of the Mississippi River, and was historically called the "American Quarter" or "American Sector." It was developed after the heart of French and Spanish settlement. It includes Lafayette Square. Most streets in this area fan out from a central point in the city. Major streets of the area include Canal Street, Poydras Street, Tulane Avenue and Loyola Avenue. Canal Street functions as the street which divides the traditional "downtown" area from the "uptown" area.
Every street crossing Canal Street between the Mississippi River and Rampart Street, which is the northern edge of the French Quarter, has a different name for the "uptown" and "downtown" portions. For example, St. Charles Avenue, known for its street car line, is called Royal Street below Canal Street, though where it traverses the Central Business District between Canal and Lee Circle, it is properly called St. Charles Street. Elsewhere in the city, Canal Street serves as the dividing point between the "South" and "North" portions of various streets.