RIVERTOWN IN REVIEW

HISTORY

The Rivertown Historic District is located at the southern end of Williams Boulevard where Williams meets the levee and the Mississippi River.  It lies in the heart of what was the original city of Kenner as laid out by Minor Kenner in 1855.  The land was quickly developed with the Kenner family owning three plantations and the close proximity to the Mississippi River made Kenner an ideal location for trade.  Today, the historic district encompasses an area bounded by Kenner Avenue (North), the Mississippi River (South), Compromise Street (East), and Daniel Street (West). 

The Rivertown area is said to be the first land of the metropolitan area on which Europeans set foot.  La Salle’s Landing is located at the southern end where Williams Boulevard meets the levee and commemorates the site where the French Explorer landed on his way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Legend has it that Rene’-Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle came upon Native Americans here burning river cane and thus designated the area Cannes Brulee or “burnt cane.”  La Salle's Landing served as a port of trade throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century.  Flying high above are the flags of ten different countries, all of which at some point governed Louisiana. 

Central to the La Salle’s Landing plaza is a bronze statue marking the first ever World Heavyweight Prizefight Championship in the United States.  On May 10, 1870 several thousand men gathered around a make-shift ring along the banks of the Mississippi River at La Salle's Landing.  They gathered to watch "the fight of the century"... "Gypsy" Jem Mace, Heavyweight Boxing Champion of England take on fellow Brit, Tom Allen who held the title of American Heavyweight Champion.  The winner would be crowned the first Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World and awarded a purse of $2,500.00.  "Gypsy" Jem Mace walked away victorious that day.   Today you will find a life-sized statue with boxers in a fighting stance commemorating that day in history when Kenner was the site where the first World Heavyweight Champion was crowned.

 

In 1983, Rivertown, USA was formed with the purpose of revitalizing the area and turning it into an historic district.  

 

In July 1984 the National Register of Historic Places in Louisiana listed the Felix-Block House, known today as Heritage Hall. 

 

Kenner's Rivertown Main Street was designated in 2014 by state officials as the 36th Main Street Community in Louisiana and the only one of its kind in Jefferson Parish! 

 

TODAY

 

Rivertown remains a twelve block historic district offering a host of cultural and family attractions.  Visitors can take in the starry night sky in air-conditioned comfort at the Louis J. Roussel Jr. Planetarium & MegaDome Cinema which features a 50-foot domed projection screen.  Or, be lead astronaut on a NASA prototype at Kenner's Space Station. The full-size NASA International Space Station prototype allows visitors get a first hand look at daily living and working in space. Dedicated to space travel and technology, the Space Station is a truly a one of kind exhibit. Other areas offer visitors a chance to explore spin-off technology with "Sput Nick" the robot, touch a 4 billion year old Gibeon Meteorite, and take a walk through the history timeline of the 20th century.  

 

While strolling the streets of Rivertown, visitors can also shop several charming boutiques, eat a great meal at one of four locally owned restaurants or attend a live musical or theatrical production at the Rivertown Theater for the Performing Arts.  Numerous festivals are also held in the area each year to celebrate the history and the continued cultural diversity of the city. 

What Is Main Street?

As part of the Main Street program,  committees of volunteers and businesses guide the effort of renewing the district and determine options for continuing revitalization.   Community volunteers speak in a unified voice to promote the revitalization of Rivertown through art, culture, and economic development.  Click                        to join our efforts!