The historic residential base of Metairie has gradually shifted from being a primarily suburban residential community to several mixed commercial uses, including malls, office buildings, nightclubs and entertainment venues. Metairie is located in the east of Jefferson Parish and is bordered by New Orleans to the east, Kenner to the west, Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Illinois Central Railroad tracks to the south. Metairie was first colonized by the French in the late 18th century along an area known as Metairie Ridge, a natural dam formed by a swamp. In the 1720s, French colonists became the first Europeans to colonize Metairie in the area then known as Tchoupitoulas and now as Metairie Ridge, a natural dam formed by an old branch of the Mississippi River, the Bayou Metairie, which flowed through the current River Ridge, Metairie, Gentilly and New Orleans East.Due to Spanish and French colonial influence, Metairie and the surrounding area have a mostly Catholic population.
Major east-west highways (starting from north to south) include West Esplanade Avenue, Veterans Memorial Boulevard, West Napoleon Avenue, West Metairie Avenue, Metairie Road, and Airline Drive (which is part of U. Many of Metairie's nightclubs are located in Fat City, which was planned and developed as the Metairie business district). In 1989, a district in Metairie elected white supremacist David Duke to the Louisiana state legislature for a single term.Off-road homes were built in the 1920s and this area is now known as Old Metairie, which is actually the most prestigious area in Metairie today. It connects Metairie to Covington, Mandeville and Madisonville, which are the cities on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
It became Metairie Road, where an electric streetcar running along Metairie Road was installed in the late 1910s, opening the area to further development. One of the largest and oldest malls in Louisiana, the Lakeside Shopping Center, is located on Causeway Boulevard in the heart of Metairie. Being so close to New Orleans, Metairie has become a popular destination for tourists visiting New Orleans and, as a result, has been discovered for its own gems, such as excellent Cajun food, jazz and nightlife.