I am curious as to the original name or names of St. Charles Avenue, when the names changed and why. I have been told that the section between Canal Street and Lee Circle originally was named St. Charles Street because it was by St. Charles Battery and that the section from Lee Circle toward Carrollton Avenue had a different name.
Many streets were named after landmarks, such as Camp and Magazine streets, but St. Charles Avenue was not named after Fort St. Charles, which was on Esplanade Avenue and the river on the other side of New Orleans.
When Bertrand Gravier and his wife Marie began to divide their plantations in 1788, they created New Orleans' first suburb: the Faubourg Ste. Marie. To honor King Charles of Spain, they named a street after him — and at the same time bestowed on him honorary sainthood. St. Charles Street ran from Canal Street to St. Joseph Street.
Then, between 1803 and 1810, Barthelemy Lafon, architect, engineer, city planner and surveyor, subdivided four plantations directly upriver from Faubourg Ste. Marie. Romantic Frenchman that he was, Lafon called the main thoroughfare "Cours des Naiades," after the river nymphs of Greek mythology. Eventually it was called Route of the Nayades. However, 1852 was a big year for street name changes, and city ordinance No. 395 erased forever the nymphs and changed the name to St. Charles Avenue to continue the street begun in Faubourg Ste. Marie.
As more and more subdivisions were created, St. Charles Avenue extended Uptown. Growth was aided by the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad Company, which began running streetcars in 1835 on the very same route used today. The route began at the intersection of Baronne and Poydras streets; the line ran up to the present intersection of St. Charles and Carrollton avenues.