Metairie is a first-ring suburb located directly west of New Orleans. Although it is one of the largest communities in the state, with a population of about 146,000, it has chosen to remain unincorporated. Settled in the 1700s, Metairie grew rapidly after World War II. Today, it has a suburban, family-oriented feel that is quite different than much of neighboring New Orleans.
Hurricane Katrina has had a negative effect on the economy of Metairie, although the community was not as devastated as New Orleans. Because Metairie is below sea level, rain water caused disastrous flooding, but there was no levee breach in the city. About 75 percent of Metairie flooded, and there were 29 deaths. The population has dropped nearly 14 percent since Katrina but is slowly returning.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
- Although Metairie has a fair amount of socioeconomic diversity, the majority of residents are middle to upper middle class. The average median income and median home price are both relatively high for the area.
- Most residents commute into the city or other communities to work, and thanks to the Metairie's central location, the average commute time is only about 20 minutes.
- The largest employer in Metairie is Ochsner Health System. Other major employers in Metairie include Mercedes Benz and Lexus, who have headquarters in the community.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Most neighborhoods in Metairie consist of typical suburban housing built between the 1950s and 1980s, when the population of the community grew quickly. Unfortunately, much of this growth was fueled by white flight from New Orleans after the public schools were integrated. To this day, Metairie has a reputation for being a less than ideal community for African-Americans, and Metairie remains significantly less diverse than nearby communities. This situation has improved some since Katrina, as a diverse group of displaced New Orleans residents have migrated to Metairie.
Metairie's neighborhoods include:
- Metairie's most prestigious and upscale neighborhood is Old Metairie, the established section of town that preceded post war development. The neighborhood has become a tourist attraction, as it combines old architecture with shopping, restaurants, and coffee houses.
- Another noteworthy neighborhood is Fat City, which is primarily a commercial district. Lively Fat City is a center of nightlife, and is known as being a tamer version of New Orleans' rowdy Bourbon Street.
- Lafreniere Park. Metairie has a large park system, and its centerpiece is 155-acre Lafreniere Park. This busy spot includes multiple playgrounds, a two-mile walking and jogging path, a Frisbee golf course, a snack bar, and two outdoor exercise centers. The large pavilion at the center of the park is used for weddings, Christmas caroling, and community events.
- The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. The longest bridge in the world is almost 24 miles long, and it is anchored in Metairie. This bridge is one of two parallel bridges that make up the massive Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, which crosses Lake Pontchartrain and connects Metairie to Mandeville, Louisiana.
- Mardi Gras in Metairie. Metairie hosts an annual Mardi Gras celebration that's more toned down and family-friendly than the New Orleans extravaganza. Revelers eat King Cakes, toss beads, dress in costumes, and enjoy a parade.
- Metairie is served by two large high schools - East Jefferson and Grace King -which enroll students in neighboring communities as well. There are also many parochial and prep schools in town.
- Two technical colleges are located in Metairie.
- Residents have easy access to the colleges and universities in the greater New Orleans area, which include Delgado Community College, the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and Xavier University.
- Metairie is about 75 miles from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the largest university in the state.
- Since 1993, one of the most popular pastimes in Metairie is to watch a New Orleans Zephyr game. This AAA minor league team is affiliated with the Florida Marlins and, since there's no major league baseball team in New Orleans, the Zephyrs are extremely popular.
- Locals also take pride in their high school teams -the East Jefferson Warriors and the Grace King Fighting Irish.
- Sports fans have several teams to cheer for in New Orleans, most notably the Saints (NFL) and the Hornets (NBA). There are also a number of expansion teams in the city, and sports fans follow the Tulane University Green Wave teams.
- The New Orleans Superdome, which became well known during Hurricane Katrina when it served as shelter for thousands of hurricane evacuees, hosts major championship games, including the Super Bowl and the annual NCAA New Orleans Bowl.
- Louisiana State University sports teams (the LSU Tigers) are also very popular in the region, especially the highly ranked football team.
Metairie is served primarily by the media outlets in New Orleans. The Times-Picayune is the major local newspaper.
Metairie television stations:
- ABC: 26
- CBS: 4
- NBC: 6
- Fox: 44
- CW: 38
- PBS: 12
Metairie radio stations:
- News: 1150 AM
- Classical/Jazz: 89.9 FM
- Rock: 97.1 FM
- Country: 101.1 FM
- Christian: 91.1 FM
- Public Radio: 91.5 FM
- Urban: 93.3 FM