The history of Metairie is long and exciting. Located in the eastern Jefferson Parish, this suburb of New Orleans has no mayor, and residents don’t pay city taxes. Although Metairie may be larger than most cities in the state of Louisiana, it’s not legally classified as a city. It’s locally governed by the Council of the Parish of Jefferson.
Metairie’s boundaries include Kenner to the west, New Orleans to the east, Lake Pontchartrain to the north, and Airline Highway to the south. Like neighboring New Orleans, Metairie is below sea level. It’s also home to the Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest bridge over water that connects the north and south shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
Unlike the other 49 states in the country, Louisiana’s French heritage means it has parishes rather than counties. Louisiana’s earlier history was influenced mainly by the influx of Canadians who refused to renounce their Catholic religion and therefore chose to flee the Canadian government. By the beginning of the 19th century, Louisiana had become part of the United States. Today, it is one of the country’s leading producers of oil and natural gas.
The history of Metairie highlights its French background. The word “Metairie” comes from a French word for farm. The term was used in the 12th century to describe a type of farming whereby landowners would lease a portion of their property to farmers for produce in lieu of rent.
Metairie was first settled by the French in the late 18th century along an area known as the Metairie Ridge. This later became Metairie Road and is still one of the main roads connecting Metairie to the city of New Orleans. The area surrounding the road is currently referred to as “Old Metairie.”
Today “Old Metairie” is a bustling neighborhood and the most prestigious part of Metairie. It features attractive homes, old-fashioned street lights, shopping centers, professional buildings, and various shops. Lakeside Shopping Center, one of Louisiana’s iconic malls, is located on Causeway Boulevard in the heart of Metairie.
Metairie Points of Interest
Metairie’s residential base has gradually shifted over the years from a primarily suburban community to a mix of wood and brick homes and more extensive, newer construction. There is no shortage of commercial centers, shopping malls, entertainment spots, office buildings, and nightclubs. Most nightclubs are located in Metairie’s commercial district, otherwise referred to as “Fat City.”
“Fat City” is also known for its festive spirit, culminating in a Mardi Gras that’s similar to the one in New Orleans. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French and celebrates the beginning of Lent, a Catholic observance leading up to Easter.
The New Orleans Zephyrs AAA baseball team has its stadium in Metairie. Mercedes Benz and Lexus also have their headquarters in Metairie, as do the New Orleans Saints. The history of Metairie and its proximity to New Orleans has made it a popular tourist destination for people visiting New Orleans. Some of the most visited attractions include great Cajun food, a vibrant nightlife, and jazz music.
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