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The heritage of this region has been by its relation to water-Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. So too have these waterways shaped the character of the New Orleans area state parks. Historically, the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain has been a retreat from city life. Fountainbleau and Fairview Riverside still provide the peace, charm and natural beauty that attracted urban dwellers to this area a century ago. Bayou Segnette, on the west bank of the Mississippi, is an unusual blend of swampland and marsh and provides access to the saltwater of the Gulf. St. Bernard is the only park located just over the leeve from the Mississippi and the remarkable Fort Pike was built to defend the city of New Orleans from attacks by land and by sea.