For over 200 years, the historic French Market has been an enduring symbol of pride and progress for the people of New Orleans. While the Market has existed on the same site since 1791, each new decade and governing flag has brought dramatic changes to the Market and helped to secure its special place in the hearts of the people of New Orleans.
What began as a Native American trading post on the banks of the mighty, muddy Mississippi River on the site chosen for the City by the French, has become a cultural, commercial and entertainment treasure which the Crescent City proudly shares with the world.
Today, America’s oldest public market has assumed a leading role in the local economy as well, providing consistently increasing revenues for city government while putting millions of dollars back into the local economy.
In 1971, under the direction of Mayor Moon Landrieu, the French Market Corporation was granted a new 40 year operating agreement. A twelve member board was appointed by the Mayor to supervise Market policy and operations.
In 1975, the French Market Corporation boldly administered the first major renovation and construction efforts since the Public Works Administration (PWA) projects of the 1930′s, adding a faithful reconstruction of the historic Red Stores and a new Halle des Cuisines, and transforming the Market’s open stalls into modern stores.
At this point in the Market’s storied history, entertainment and tourism became primary aspects of market life. Construction and investment focused on restaurants and shops frequented by thousands of tourists and local residents alike.
These renovation projects were the first step in the rebirth of the Riverfront as a major attraction. While long ago in the 18th and early 19th centuries the levee, with its markets and teeming commerce, had been a place to stroll and shop and see the sights of a growing city, the railroads and changing port technology cut the city off from the river that gave birth to it. The French Market renovations and renaissance of the 1970′s marked New Orleans’ return to the river.