Community History

Interesting Facts About Jefferson Parish

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was established in 1825 and was named in honor of Thomas Jefferson, commemorating his role in purchasing the Louisiana territory from France in 1803. The Parish originally extended from present day Felicity Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, to the St. Charles Parish line.

As Orleans Parish grew, it annexed from Jefferson Parish such established areas as the Garden District, Lafayette, Jefferson, and Carrollton. The present boundary was set in 1874, and in 1884 the seat of Parish government was transferred to the West Bank, Gretna, where it has remained.

Once a largely rural area of farms, dairies and vast tracts of undeveloped land, Jefferson Parish today is New Orleans’ first suburb – a bedroom community west of the city that received the first great migration of middle-class families from the 1950’s to the 1970’s.

The parish’s largest community is Metairie, an unincorporated area that comprises almost all of East Jefferson. Smaller unincorporated areas include River Ridge and Jefferson. Jefferson Parish is divided by the Mississippi River into the West Bank and East Bank areas. East Jefferson cities include Kenner and Harahan, while Gretna, Westwego, and Lafitte are in West Jefferson.

The Essence of Jefferson Parish

Wrapped around New Orleans, a mystical city steeped in history, culture and night life is Jefferson Parish. A place rich with a heritage all its own. Nowhere in such close proximity will you find such cultural diversity, as you will in JP. Truly a sportsman’s paradise, Jefferson Parish abounds with recreational and nature watching opportunities; Just 15 minutes from downtown New Orleans. You’ll find some of Louisiana’s most picturesque wetlands and a true slice of Cajun life.

Enter a world of timeless beauty amongst moss Cypress trees on a popular swamp tour. Catch a glimpse of an alligator on the prowl or depending on your guide, you just may catch more than a glimpse. And if catching fish instead of gators is more your style, charter a fishing boat from many of the local marinas. The waters that surround Jefferson Parish are home to hundreds of species of fish. It will soon become obvious why Jefferson Parish boasts some of the top fishing spots in the United States. Some of the oldest fishing rodeos in the country are held annually in these waters. Try your hand at a prizewinner or just sit back and enjoy the excitement.

If fishing isn’t your game, these same areas are among the best bird watching spots in the nation. Bird enthusiasts will delight in the great number of species that grace the landscape. In fact, Queen Bess island off the coast of Grand Isle is the nesting site for the once almost extinct brown pelican, Louisiana’s state bird. Another interesting bird sanctuary is that of the purple martin. Year after year, they flock to the beautiful shores of Lake Pontchartrain for their annual nesting ritual. You can also enjoy the sights of the lake as you stroll along Linear Park. Or, if you are up for a little more action, rollerblading and bike riding are also popular activities. For fitness or leisure, parks throughout Jefferson Parish can accommodate just about any past time. Water sports abound on Lake Pontchartrain as well as the many other waterways that channel Jefferson Parish. Boating, sailing, jet skiing, and water skiing, are not the only activities. The beaches of Grand Isle along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico offers swimming, fishing, crabbing, picnicking, even camping.

If camping on the beach is a little too primitive, Bayou Signette state park offers quaint cabins. Nestled in the natural beauty of Louisiana’s swamp lands. Or spend the night in style at an elegantly appointed Victorian Bed & Breakfast tucked away amongst stately oak trees. In fact, Jefferson Parish has accommodations to suit every taste and budget.
You will also find activities for the entire family in Jefferson Parish. Spend the day shopping at one of the area malls, with shops sure to suit any style. Take in a movie at one of our multi-screen theatre complexes. Or catch a little more action at one of the area casinos where you can dance, dine, and gamble the night away.

Sporting and cultural activities go on year round in Jefferson Parish. For a day of All-American family fun, take in a ball game at Zephyr stadium. Home to our very own professional baseball team. Or take a front row seat at the Alario Center for world class sporting events. The Jefferson Performing Arts Society offers a variety of classical, contemporary, as well as original theatrical productions sure to entertain the entire family.

And if you are ready for the greatest show on earth, this is Jefferson Parish during Mardi Gras where you can be part of the fun and festivities matched by no other event. If you miss Fat Tuesday, you can see carnival year round at Rivertown’s Mardi Gras Museum. This is just one of the many museums and exhibits that Jefferson Parish has to offer. From blacksmith shops to the Saints Hall of Fame Museum, there is something for everyone. Take an amazing step back in time in Gretna at the Davey Crockett fire museum and the historic Louisiana Railroad Museum. Or visit Rivertown’s Daily Living Science Center, an interactive look at modern science including a life-size prototype of the Nasa Space Station.

If there is something to celebrate, there is a festival for it. From seafood to citrus, there’s no end to the music, food, and fun. With seafood being such an abundant industry in Jefferson Parish, there is no shortage of fresh seafood for your enjoyment. From the crab trap to the table top, you’ll find many delicious local favorites including mouth-watering fried shrimp and oysters, over-stuffed poboys, hot plate lunches, and cool, crispy salads. Restaurants throughout Jefferson Parish serve it up. Whatever your taste.

With something for everyone, Jefferson Parish offers a unique opportunity to experience recreation, culture, and entertainment. Visit Jefferson Parish, a place with a heritage all its own.

About the author

The West Bank Beacon

The West Bank Beacon is a local monthly publication with a mailed circulation of over 15,000 and thousands more distributed at points from Gretna to Grand Isle, the Beacon tells the story of a thriving community. A “good news” newspaper, our mission is to make readers aware of how both individuals and groups are making a positive difference in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes a focus on civic and city initiatives, volunteer efforts, and charity fundraisers, to name just a few examples.

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