Metairie ( MET-ər-ee) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States, and is part of the New Orleans metropolitan area. With a population at the 2010 census of 138,481, Metairie is the largest community in Jefferson Parish and the fifth-largest CDP in the United States. It is an unincorporated area that would be Louisiana's fourth-largest city if it were incorporated.
Métairie is the French term for a small tenant farm which paid the landlord with a share of the produce, a practice also known as sharecropping (in French, métayage). In the 1760s, many of the original French farmers were tenants; after the Civil War, the majority of the community's inhabitants were sharecroppers until urbanization started in the 1910s.
In the 1720s, French settlers became the first Europeans to settle Metairie in the area known then as Tchoupitoulas and now as Metairie Ridge, a natural levee formed by an ancient branch of the Mississippi River, Bayou Metairie, which flowed through modern-day River Ridge, Metairie, Gentilly, and New Orleans East. It emptied into Mississippi Sound. The Acolapissa Native Americans used this ridge as a road; it is the oldest road in the New Orleans area. Paved in the 1920s, it is called Metairie Road. An electric streetcar was installed running along Metairie Road in the late 1910s, opening the area to greater development. Upscale housing tracts were constructed off the road in the 1920s; this area is now known as "Old Metairie".