Everywhere else, the space between the two lanes of traffic on a divided road is called the median. In New Orleans it is called the Neutral Ground. The legend is that it is called this because in the early days when the French lived in the Quarter and the Americans lived in what is now downtown and beyond they would meet in the wide median of Canal Street (named because there was going to be a canal built there – that is why the street and median is so wide – but it never was built) to resolve their differences.
Now, all medians in the city are referred to as the “neutral ground.” This is especially important during Mardi Gras, where a lot of people watch the parades from the neutral ground. If you are waiting for a certain person in a Krewe they will tell you if they are on the street side or neutral ground side.
Along Canal Street, Saint Charles (where this picture was taken) and Carrollton Avenue, the streetcars run in the neutral ground. I’ve got some pictures of the Saint Charles Streetcar (one of my favorite things in the world) that I’ll be putting up here. The Saint Charles neutral ground is a wonderful and popular place to go running in New Orleans.