New Orleans is a city full of history and culture, and if you’re looking for a free activity while visiting the French Quarter, consider taking a walk through Louis Armstrong Park. This park has undergone a significant transformation thanks to a city beautification project in 2011, shedding its previous unsavory reputation. Open daily and free to the public, Armstrong Park offers an intriguing diversion during your French Quarter explorations.

A Park with a Past

Armstrong Park sits on the site of the former 18th-century Fort St. Ferdinand and was established in 1980. The park encompasses part of the historic Congo Square and pays tribute to the legendary local jazz musician, Louis Armstrong.

The Birthplace of Jazz

The park is located in the Faubourg Tremé neighborhood, known as the birthplace of jazz music. In the southwest corner of the park, just left of the main entrance, you’ll find the remnants of Congo Square. This shaded square, once larger in size and situated outside the city wall (rampart), was a gathering place for enslaved Africans on Sundays. Here, they could freely play music, sing, dance, and worship. The tribal beats and rhythms heard at these gatherings fused with European brass music, forming the foundation of American jazz and, as some argue, modern popular music.

Celebrating Musical Heritage

To honor its musical roots, Armstrong Park hosts Jazz in the Park, a free concert series open to the public. The park is also home to the city’s Municipal Auditorium and the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.

Sculptures and Monuments Galore

As you wander through the park, you’ll encounter various sculptures and monuments, some scattered and others clustered together. Keep an eye out for these notable works:

  • A striking 10′ 5″ bronze statue of Louis Armstrong
  • A modern sculpture of Mahalia Jackson, both created by sculptor Elizabeth Catlett
  • Congo Square, a stunning sculptural relief by Nigerian-born artist Adéwálé Adénlé, located near the edge of the square by a sprawling Live Oak tree
  • A unique ‘motion’ statue of Charles ‘Buddy’ Bolden, the ‘king of the cornet’ and a founding father of jazz, created by artist Kimberly Dummons
  • French Opera House, an abstract work featuring polished metal balls and mosaic glass tiles, by sculptor Steve Kline
  • Brass Band, a group of bronze statues, and Chief Tootie, a remarkable depiction of Mardi Gras Indian Allison ‘Big Chief Tootie’ Montana, both by local artist Sheleen Jones-Adénlé
  • A bust of musician and composer Sidney Bechet

Tips for Visiting Armstrong Park

  • The park is open daily from dawn to dusk, so plan your visit accordingly.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking on various surfaces, including grass and pavement.
  • Bring a water bottle to stay hydrated, especially during the warmer months.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about the park’s history and sculptures, consider joining a guided tour or downloading a self-guided tour app.
  • Check the park’s event calendar to see if there are any free concerts or performances during your visit.

Getting There

Armstrong Park is conveniently located at 701 North Rampart Street, at the intersection of Rampart and Saint Ann Street. It’s easily accessible by foot, bike, or public transportation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Armstrong Park safe to visit?

Yes, thanks to the city’s beautification efforts, Armstrong Park is now a safe and welcoming space for visitors. However, as with any public place, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables secure.

Are there restrooms available in the park?

Yes, there are public restrooms located within Armstrong Park for visitor convenience.

Can I bring my dog to Armstrong Park?

Dogs are allowed in Armstrong Park as long as they are on a leash and you clean up after them. Be sure to bring water and waste bags for your furry friend.

Is there parking available near the park?

While there is no dedicated parking lot for Armstrong Park, you can find street parking and public parking lots in the surrounding area. Be sure to read signs carefully and pay attention to any time limits or restrictions.

A Must-Visit in the French Quarter

Armstrong Park is a hidden gem in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter. With its rich history, stunning sculptures, and ties to the birth of jazz, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone looking to dive deeper into the city’s cultural heritage. So, take a break from the bustling streets and spend some time exploring this beautiful urban oasis – your mind, body, and soul will thank you for it!

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