Boulevards in New Orleans
July 6, 2009 11:45 AM   Subscribe

What is the local term for those grassy areas that run down the middle of boulevards in New Orleans?

I know there is a term used in New Orleans for the trees and grass in the middle of boulevards, but can't recall it. Any ideas?
posted by little_c to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Best answer:
The median for Canal Street in New Orleans (and by extension, for all streets in Greater New Orleans) is called "neutral ground" by local residents.
Via "Central Reservation" on Wikipedia (Google terms: "median new orleans")
posted by rafter at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2009

Response by poster: The missing element for me was "median." I couldn't recall that word either. Thanks!
posted by little_c at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2009

They call them neutral ground
"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.""
posted by mcbietila at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2009

We usually call it the banquette (second definition here).
posted by foooooogasm at 1:14 PM on July 6, 2009

foooooogasm: "We usually call it the banquette (second definition here)."

A banquette is a sidewalk.

Medians on many major streets are extra-wide for the streetcar tracks. "Historically" the "neutral ground" was the dividing area between French and Spanish areas of the city.
posted by radioamy at 6:12 PM on July 6, 2009

Seconding the sidewalk as definition of "banquet." My grandfather would often refer to them as that. :-)
posted by tcv at 6:39 PM on July 6, 2009

That's what the definition says, but that's not how the word was used in south central Louisiana (admittedly not New Orleans), so the use case is just different.

It was not uncommon for the older Cajuns to get exasperated at some new technology or thing and just point at it and yell "Dret la!" (I don't even know the French word they were using, but it meant "That thing there, whatever the hell you call it!)"

Come to think of it, we used banquette for just about any sort of raised barrier: a road median, a parking lot median, etc. We never used it for sidewalk.

I do see images on Flickr! for Banquette Cafe, etc., or sidewalk cafe, so that's certainly one way the word is used.

Whatever the case, sounds like the OP found what was being searched for and I'm just babbling.
posted by foooooogasm at 7:57 AM on July 7, 2009

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