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Gretna, Louisiana
Gretna City Hall
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish Jefferson
Elevation ft (0 m)
Area 3.9 sq mi (10.1 km²)
 - land 3.5 sq mi (9 km²)
 - water 0.4 sq mi (1 km²), 10.26%
Population 17,736 (2010)
Density 4,983.9 /sq mi (1,924.3 /km²)
Mayor Belinda Cambre Constant
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 70053, 70056
Area code 504

Gretna is the second-largest city and parish seat of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States.

Gretna is on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just east and across the river from uptown New Orleans. It is part of the New OrleansMetairieKenner Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 17,736 at the 2010 census.


Gretna is located at 29°54′59″N 90°3′15″W / 29.91639°N 90.05417°W / 29.91639; -90.05417 (29.916459, -90.054260) and has an elevation of 0 feet (0 m) behind the levee along the Mississippi River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10 km2), of which 3.5 sq mi (9.1 km2) is land and 0.4 sq mi (1.0 km2) (9.33%) is water.


Gretna was settled in 1836, originally as Mechanicsham, growing with 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. Gretna was incorporated in 1913, absorbing the section of McDonogh within the Jefferson Parish boundaries. In the 1940 census, Gretna had a population of 10,879.

Hurricane Katrina controversy

High water along the Mississippi River levee at Gretna, 2005

The city and its police received considerable press coverage when, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (late August 2005), people who attempted to escape from New Orleans by walking over the Crescent City Connection bridge over the Mississippi River were turned back at gunpoint by City of Gretna Police, along with Crescent City Connection Police and Jefferson Parish Sheriff's deputies, who set up a roadblock on the bridge in the days following the hurricane. According to eyewitnesses, some officers threatened to shoot those coming from New Orleans as they attempted to cross into Gretna on foot, and shots were fired overhead.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 717
1880 2,396
1890 3,332 39.1%
1920 7,197
1930 9,584 33.2%
1940 10,879 13.5%
1950 13,813 27.0%
1960 21,967 59.0%
1970 24,875 13.2%
1980 20,615 −17.1%
1990 17,208 −16.5%
2000 17,423 1.2%
2010 17,736 1.8%
Est. 2015 17,880 0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 17,734 people, 6,958 households, and 4,286 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,685 people per square mile (1,922.0/km²). There were 7,665 housing units at an average density of 2,082 per square mile (845.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 48.05% White, 20.43% African American, 1.20% Native American, 8.12% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 4.03% from other races, and 2.45% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 24.38% of the population.

There were 6,958 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.7% were married couples living together, 19.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 23.8% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years, higher than Louisiana's median age of 34.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,065, and the median income for a family was $31,881. Males had a median income of $28,259 versus $21,019 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,735. About 20.8% of families and 24.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.7% of those under age 18 and 20.2% of those age 65 or over.


  • In his book "On the Road", author Jack Kerouac mentions Gretna.
  • Portions of the movie "A Love Song for Bobby Long" were filmed in Gretna.
  • Portions of "Monster's Ball" were filmed in Gretna.

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