This is for all the people who wondered about the wards of New Orleans and were too afraid to ask.
Contrary to some beliefs – it’s not made up numbers for different neighborhoods. Wards are all about voting!
There are 17 Wards
Wards are used for voting in elections. These wards are then broken down by precinct. When you get your voter registration card, it will tell you what ward and percent you will be voting in.
How did this happen?
In the 19th century, aldermen were elected by different wards. In the early 1900s, New Orleans then began voting in city council members by districts. The last time we voted by wards was in 1912.
We now have 5 city council members voted in by districts and two council-at-large members. (Can you even imagine 17 city council members… LAWD!)
Why do people still reference wards?
When the city changed over to districts, socially, people still relied heavily on naming their ward as a part of their neighborhood identification.
“Repping”, “throwing up”, or “calling out” your ward became popular in the 1980s with the emergence of bounce music and New Orleans hip-hop and rap music. For a while, it was seen as hostile and territorial. It’s now a part of local culture and many see it as a friendly. It’s also a way of letting others know what neighborhood you live in.
What is the largest ward?
The 9th ward! The 9th ward is so large that it covers the Lower 9th, Upper Ninth, New Orleans East, and Pontchartrain Park.
When non-locals ask about the 9th ward, because they heard about during Hurricane Katrina coverage, they don’t know how huge this swath of land is.
These days most people are referencing the Lower 9th when they say the 9th Ward.
In 1852, most of the boundaries of the 1st though 11th ward were reorganized from three separate municipalities into one centralized government. The additional wards were formed through the expansion of the city in the 1870s.
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