The section of Rampart Street downriver from Canal Street is designated as North Rampart Street, which forms the inland or northern border of the French Quarter (Vieux Carre). Crossing Esplanade Avenue, the street continues into the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, then splits off from St. Claude Avenue to become a single-lane, one-way street through residential neighborhoods, and continues into the Bywater neighborhood. With a break at the Industrial Canal, Rampart Street resumes in the Lower Ninth Ward.
Upriver from Canal, it is designated as South Rampart Street, and runs through the New Orleans Central Business District and continues to St. Andrew Street. In the 19th century, the "South Rampart Street" designation continued into Uptown New Orleans; this section is now named Danneel Street.
The street gets its name from the wall, or "Rampart" (Rempart in French), that was built on the north side of the street in the city's early years to fortify the early French colonial city. Today, the portion of Rampart from Canal Street to St. Claude Avenue has four lanes separated by a tree-lined neutral ground. Like Canal Street, Carondelet Street, and other streets in New Orleans, Rampart features classic lampposts reminiscent of the past.
In the early and mid-20th century, Rampart Street on either side of Canal was the center of an important African-American commercial and entertainment district.
Rampart Street's significance has been commemorated in songs like "Saturday Night Fish Fry," "I've Got the Blues for Rampart Street," and "South Rampart Street Parade," a jazz march composed by Ray Bauduc and Bob Haggart in 1937.
In 1926, the St. Claude streetcar line was built, which ran down part of North Rampart. But it was removed in 1949 (as were eventually all but one of the streetcar lines in New Orleans), in favor of more lanes for automobiles. In December 2014, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority began construction on the 1.6-mile Rampart-St. Claude streetcar line, which will run down North Rampart from Canal before continuing on St. Claude Street to Elysian Fields Avenue. It is expected to be completed in September 2016. It will be the fifth streetcar line in New Orleans.