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When am I allowed to park on a neutral ground? 

click to enlarge During Mardi Gras, revelers use the neutral ground as place to watch parades and visit with each other between processions.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

During Mardi Gras, revelers use the neutral ground as place to watch parades and visit with each other between processions.

Hey Blake,

When am I allowed to park on a neutral ground?

Dear reader,

  "Neutral grounds" are a unique aspect of New Orleans. They are sites of former railways, streetcar routes, canals and drainage ditches. Other cities use the term "medians," but New Orleanians call them neutral grounds because of their history as a dividing line between cultures.

  The first neutral ground was on Canal Street and separated Creoles living in the French Quarter from Americans living in the present-day Central Business District. All other medians in the city were thereafter referred to as neutral grounds. Today, streetcars ride along the neutral grounds of Canal Street and North Carrollton and St. Charles avenues, and Mardi Gras paradegoers use the strips as a place to view processions.

  According to the New Orleans Code of Ordinances, it is a misdemeanor to drive on neutral grounds and violators can face a $150 fine. It's also illegal to stop or park on a neutral ground unless following directions from police or specifically allowed by law. Drivers who park illegally on a neutral ground can be fined $75 and the vehicle can be seized if it isn't moved. The city sometimes allows temporary parking on neutral grounds when bad weather is expected to bring flooding.

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