Away from downtown, there is still rich history and culture in New Orleans – in fact, many argue this is where the culture comes from. Historic neighborhoods like Holy Cross and Gentilly Terrace sit on some of the highest ground in the city. These once rural areas live today as the starting ground for the neighborhoods that now surround them.
The Gentilly neighborhood is home to historic Dillard University and the largest collection of California Craftsman-style bungalows in Louisiana. There are also many English cottages and Spanish and Mediterranean Revival raised houses from the early 1900s. Part of this neighborhood became Gentilly Boulevard and later U.S. Highway 90 – part of the Old Spanish Trail – that connected St. Augustine, Florida to Los Angeles, California.
Originally this settlement founded on the long, narrow ridge, as most of the surrounding area, especially between the Pontchartrain and Gentilly Ridge, was very swampy. The Gentilly Terrace was actually man-made – built by piling up earth in the shallow sections of the swamp to create high land. The homes along Gentilly Terrace came up in the early 1900s and by the mid 1900s, with the development of drainage pumps the area, became entirely populated and known as Gentilly.
The City of New Orleans defines the Gentilly neighborhood beginning at the Lake on the north, Peoples Avenue to the east, the London Avenue Canal on the west and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad bounding the south. Some maps and New Orleanians refer to Gentilly when speaking about the Upper Ninth Ward and the eastern side of the Industrial Canal, which is now known as New Orleans East.