Old Spanish Fort – New Orleans, Louisiana - Atlas Obscura
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New Orleans, Louisiana

Old Spanish Fort

Before becoming a public park, this spot was a shell midden, a fort, and an amusement park. 

People have been in this small location for a long time. The slice of land has witnessed varying episodes from New Orleans’ human history, starting long before the state as we know it existed.

Ancient Marksville natives built a shell midden here, which the French later used as a base for their fort. The fort, which was constructed in 1701, was built to protect an entrance to Bayou St. John. When the Spanish gained control of Louisiana, they replaced the French fort with their own, which was decommissioned in 1823.

After that fort closed, an amusement park opened on the spot. It was, perhaps unoriginally, called Old Spanish Fort after the site’s previous use and had a hotel, a casino, and an alligator pond. Later in its life, the park received a roller coaster and a streetcar and was known as the “Coney Island of the South.” Multiple early jazz bands played there to get their start.

In 1938, the land became a public park. In 1983, the Spanish fort was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The ruins of the fortress are still standing today as a reminder of all stages of New Orleans’ long history.

Know Before You Go

It's near the Lake Vista neighborhood.