A Brief History of Gretna, Louisiana

Built in 1895, this historic structure first opened as Gretna Pharmacy in downtown Gretna. Photo courtesy of Thelma Drinkhaus.

Gretna is the second-largest city in and parish seat of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. It lies on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just east and across the river from uptown New Orleans. Founded in the early 1800s as Mechanicsham by Nicholas Noel Destréhan, a plantation owner, it was settled by immigrants of German descent. Gretna was renamed in the 1880s for Gretna Green, Scotland, because of its reputation for quick weddings (which are still performed there) (Britannica, 2002). It became a station on the Mississippi River for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, Texas and Pacific Railway, and Southern Pacific Railroad, with a ferry across the River to New Orleans. The famous spice-maker Zatarain’s was founded here in 1889 (Wikipedia, 2019). In 1913 Gretna merged with nearby McDonoghville to form an incorporated city. Once a shipping point for plantations, truck farms, and dairies, it has developed as a residential-industrial suburb of New Orleans (Britannica, 2002).


Encyclopedia Britannica. (2002, Aug. 23). Gretna, Louisiana. Retrieved from britannica.com.

Wikipedia. (2019, Oct. 26). Gretna, Louisiana. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org.

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