NOLA Speak: Neutral Ground

St Charles Ave parade route

On the left: The neutral ground side of the parade route

Neutral Ground

I forget that I have Facebook friends outside of New Orleans. When I “speak”, they don’t always know what I’m talking about. Some of our local phrases can seem foreign to those poor, sad people who don’t get to call NOLA home.

Last week, I mentioned neutral ground and promptly got a text from a friend asking “what the heck is the neutral ground?”

From the dictionary:

In most cities this is called the “median-” You know, that little strip of ground in the middle of a road. Legend has it that the neutral ground got its name from early New Orleans when the French and Spanish could do business between sections of the city standing on the “neutral ground.”

Typically, the neutral ground is grassy, sometimes landscaped, sometimes used as a play spot for kids, sometimes used to park a lawn chair under a tree for shade on a hot summer day. The biggest one in NOLA is on Canal Street and it’s completely paved in the downtown section, with streetcar tracks and bus lanes running through it.

Now ya know.


Interested in more about NOLA speak? Check out our video with the NOLA History Guy on local pronunciations.



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