THE GARDEN DISTRICT OF NEW ORLEANS BEGAN WITH THE end of a marriage. Madame Livaudais, who received the family's sugar plantation as part of her divorce settlement, sold it and returned to France to live. Entrepreneurial developers laid the property out as home sites and cannily marketed them to the Americans (many of them successful entrepreneurs as well) who flooded into New Orleans after the completion of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Flush with cash from the booming local economy and eager to outdo the city's French upper crust who snubbed them, the newcomers built gracious, elegant, and opulent mansions of their own. Though constructed in a variety of architectural styles, among them Italianate, Greek Revival, and Victorian, the houses share common elements: high ceilings, large windows, porches, and galleries—all veritable necessities in the unique environment that is New Orleans.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: New Orleans, LA.