Much of historic Canal Street closed to traffic as firefighters battled a six alarm blaze at 1018 Canal Street throughout the night of January 26, 2016.

The 1000 block of Canal stands as a typical example of the historic commercial strip’s current usage, with businesses lining the street on the ground floor.

The upper floors of the building where the blaze originated were unoccupied at the time of the fire, according to reports from the New Orleans Fire Department.

In a June 2015 story called Come Home to Canal, Preservation in Print Editor Danielle Del Sol highlighted the historic nature of the street.

“Between 1820 and 1850, the street experienced a flurry of both residential and commercial construction. Its buildings were grand, often designed by local and even nationally renowned architects. Impressive building features included cast-iron facades, iron galleries, and columns and architectural details of all sorts.”

Much of the recent redevelopment work has gone into bringing the mostly empty upper floors back into commerce.

“Ground-floor shops on Canal enjoy steady foot traffic, but look up and you’ll see very little. With the exception of the street’s hotels, few buildings on Canal utilize their upper floors. Much of the space has sat empty for many years.”

Fire code restrictions and regulations governing separate entrances for residential upper floors and commercial lower floors have all played a factor in keeping the “Acres of Diamonds” above Canal Street empty.

The sudden damages wrought by fires such as this one bring the need to preserve and protect our historic architecture into sharp focus.

The PRC hopes the fire damage to the 1000 block of Canal can be quickly repaired and restored with an eye to preserving the historic nature of the area.