The roughly "L" shaped ward stretches through the city from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. The lower boundary is St. Philip Street, across which is the 6th Ward. The Ward boundary then follows Bayou St. John, which back from Esplanade Avenue has the 7th Ward on the other side. The Upper boundary is St. Louis Street, across which is the 4th Ward. The boundary continues on a straight line of St. Louis to City Park Avenue (formerly Bayou Metairie Road), where it jogs down to Orleans. It then follows the Orleans Canal route north to the Lake.
The Ward includes some of the earliest and most famous portions of New Orleans settled in colonial times. The riverfront, long busy docks, is now the "Moonwalk", a pleasant park along the Mississippi. Just above the Moonwalk is Café du Monde, below it the old Jax Brewery building, converted into an upscale shopping mall. Across Decatur Street is Jackson Square, the heart of the old French Quarter, surrounded by historic buildings. Further back, past the shops and galleries of Royal Street and the bars and clubs of Bourbon Street, is a still largely residential section of the Quarter. Such famous music venues as Preservation Hall and Donna's are in the portion of the Quarter in the 5th Ward.