New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Federal City

 

NOLA’s Federal City neighborhood is undergoing a renaissance. It consists of a public-private mixed-use development located on 156 acres of the former Naval Support Activity New Orleans on the West Bank. The base closed in 2011, and since then the facility has slowly been transforming into a high-end residential community along the waterfront. Recently, however, the massive redevelopment effort has accelerated and includes both residential and limited commercial spaces.

The residential development includes apartments, condos and single-family homes, and there are also plans for grocery stores and other small businesses to support the neighborhood. The area is being branded as the New Orleans Riverside at Historic Algiers. Federal City is located on the Mississippi River next to Algiers, and its boundaries consist of Hendee Street, the river, General Collins Avenue, Newton Street and General Meyer Avenue.

History

The land was originally part of a huge West Bank concession given to New Orleans’ founder Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, in 1719. It was later purchased by the US government in 1849. In 1901, the US Naval Station was formally established. The Naval Station underwent several long periods of inactivity, and in 1962 was designated as the Headquarters, Naval Support Activity. At its height, the complex employed over 4,6000 people with a $142 million annual payroll. The base closed in 2011, and the city has hired and fired several developers who failed to deliver on the area’s redevelopment plans.

Current Day

Today, the Algiers Development District, the City of New Orleans, and state and local officials are collaborating to fulfill the promise of Federal City’s rebirth, and the project is one of the largest economic development initiatives for the state of Louisiana. The mission is to, not only create housing, but economic opportunities while simultaneously serving the retail, entertainment and recreational needs of West Bank and Greater New Orleans residents.

The effort has already resulted in a number of vital neighborhood amenities, including several businesses, a fitness center, pool, retail center, hotel, auditorium, college, churches, schools and a walking/bike path that spans from Algiers Point Ferry Terminal to the former Todd Shipyard. As the redevelopment effort progresses, expect to see more grocery and convenience stores, restaurants and retail spaces, parks and public spaces, as well as the implementation of Phase II of the walking/bike path, which will culminate in 5.6 miles of well-lit, riverfront trails stretching all the way to the Chalmette Ferry Landing.

Landmarks and Events:

Algiers Auditorium: destination venue for performances and other events
Algiers Fall Festival: live music, local art and food
Craige Cultural Center: community center and event space
Federal City Community Garden: shared space for planting
J&K Bar: bar with gaming, darts, billiards and more
LeBeauf-Ott Country Retreat: historic home built in the late 1840s

The up-and-coming Federal City neighborhood is sure to grow quickly as it adds residences, shops and office buildings. For a vibrant and dynamic area with an idyllic setting, deep history and strong community ties, Federal City is not to be missed.

Check out the rest of my neighborhood series to learn about other great areas in New Orleans.

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New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Federal City

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: St. Roch

 

 

St. Roch, a subdistrict of the Bywater neighborhood, stands as a major representative area of New Orleans’ working class families for decades. With a varied history that begins with the trading routes and cultural immersion of New Orleans’ history, the district has seen a variety of changes in recent years.

Our exploration of the neighborhood will give us insight into the changing demographics of the neighborhood and the future of this culturally proud, up-and-coming area.

History

Originally named Faubourg Franklin, New Orleans’ St. Roch neighborhood was created as a neighborhood along the trading routes of NOLA’s waterways. In 1830, the area began to develop as the Pontchartrain Railroad connected the Milneburg settlement with the Faubourg Marginay to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. In 1867, St. Roch got its name after the German priest, Rev. Peter Leonard Thevis, who arrived in New Orleans and built the St. Roch chapel there after his prayers were met that no one in the parish would die during the Yellow Fever epidemic. Many religious followers thought this brought healing to the neighborhood.

Before the Civil War, the neighborhood was one of the first to host a proud inclusion of the country’s largest populations of free people of color. Later, in the 20th century, St. Roch had grown in size with new technological advances like sewer and water services added to the area. In the late 1920s, the neighborhood was considered a tranquil and low-key part of New Orleans. It was also known as a predominantly racially mixed residential section. Many black and Creole families living in the area also led to the establishment of many private and parochial schools.

Although considered beautiful and peaceful throughout its past history, St. Roch was also known for its recreational offerings. Baseball fields, its historic blacksmith shops, small farms, and dairies dotted the area.

Current Day

In recent years, the St. Roch neighborhood has become known as the “New Marginay” for the restoration and demographic shifts in the neighborhood, now largely African American because of the construction of the I-10 splitting up the neighborhood.

After Hurricane Katrina, many of the houses and landmarks were heavily damaged and many of the local residents moved out. However, numerous revitalization efforts were spearheaded to clean up and rebuild much of the neighborhood. St. Roch CDC has helped to restore several historic houses and office buildings in the area. With landscapers planting trees and new plants in the area, the neighborhood has attempted to revert back to its original state.

Landmarks

Today, revitalization efforts are helping to rebuild the area back to its glory and its slowly drawing new residents and visitors to experience the historical glory and beauty of a district that showcases the spirit and historical diversity of New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: St. Roch

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Carrollton

Carrollton boasts a noteworthy presence among the historic buildings and avenues of New Orleans. As a significant area of Uptown New Orleans, the neighborhood includes the Carrollton Historic District, recognized by the Historic District Landmark Commission.

Although it used to be its own village, Carrollton lies far upriver, but is still lies in easy proximity to the French Quarter. It’s boundaries consist of downriver Jefferson Parish, the Mississippi River, Fig Street, and Lowerline Street.

History

During the American Civil War, Carrollton was quickly seized by Union control where soldiers were known to be heavy drinkers under the command of General John W. Phelps. At that time, General Benjamin F. Butler issued order that forbade the sale of liquor. However, Andrew J. Butler — the General’s brother — persuaded him to lift the ban. Afterwards, Andrew benefited from the lucrative liquor trade, helping the small, local economy expand. In addition, local cattle was brought in from Texas and products like flour from the North. Butler quickly established a monopoly on groceries, medicines, and necessities brought into the New Orleans neighborhood.

Current Day

The neighborhood’s main street is Carrollton Avenue which is lined with beautiful Southern oaks and includes features such as the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar running on the central median. Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans are located just three blocks below the neighborhood allowing many students, staff, and faculty to support the local businesses of Carrollton. In addition to the two main streets of Carrollton and Saint Charles Avenue, the neighborhood also hosts two traditional neighborhood main streets that are feature both mixed residential and commercial use. On Maple Street, the neighborhood offers numerous restaurants, coffee salons, bars, and upscale shops. Upper Carrollton also features Oak Street, a busy center for moderately larger businesses that range from restaurants, live music venues like the Maple Leaf Bar to hardware stores. In the Northern Carrollton section, Palmer Park hosts moderately-sized live music festivals every year. In the park, memorials to Carolltonians who died in World War I is featured as another remnant of the neighborhood’s historical ties.

One historic section that guests should appreciate while in the area is the “Black Pearl”, a 20th century predominately African-American part of Carrollton along the riverfront. The Queen of Gospel music, Mahalia Jackson, was a prominent player from this area. In the late 1800s, Carrollton was the site of the Rising Sun Hall which was a building used for Social Aid and Pleasure Club meetings, used for dances and functions. It is thought that it was the inspiration for the famous 1960’s song “The House of the Rising Son” by The Animals.

Historically, the neighborhood became home to a melange of ethnicities including German, Irish, and numerous European settlers in the 19th century. In addition, freed slaves were able to own homes in this area before the Civil War.

Landmarks and Restaurants:

As you stroll throughout this elegant community, you will find remnants of strong community ties, history, and a united pride in ethnic heritage. It’s easy to reminisce about the historical events that have come to call Carrollton home. Enjoy the eclectic landscape that the area has to offer!

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Carrollton

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Algiers Point

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOLA’s Algiers Point neighborhood is a a quiet suburb on the Mississippi River’s West Bank. Coined Algiers Point in the 1970’s, it’s known for its quaint houses, small art galleries, the open-air concerts at Algiers Ferry Landing and its three miles of walking and biking trails along its riverfront, the perfect stretch for picnics and enjoying great views of the New Orleans skyline.

The City Planning Commission defines the area as approximately 50 city blocks bounded by Opelousas Avenue, Pacific Avenue and the river. Some houses in Algiers Point predate the Civil War, though most of the houses were built after the fire of 1985 destroyed much of the original housing.

Algiers Point History

Algiers was part of the land grant given to New Orleans founder Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur de Bienville by the Company of the Indies in 1719. Before being annexed to New Orleans in 1970, Algiers was a bustling town with its own governance and thriving economy. The Algiers-Canal Street Ferry began operating in 1827, and has been in continuous operation ever since. The area became known for shipbuilding, repair and other riverfront endeavors, and by the 1850’s, rail yards lining the riverside employed many of the town’s residents. At its height, Algiers Point operated six separate ferries to New Orleans’ East Bank, including one capable of carrying livestock and railroad cars.

The town was built on the site of the Duverje Plantation, which was subdivided by its owner around 1839. The plantation home, built in 1812, became the Algiers Courthouse, but was ultimately destroyed by the fire of 1895. The fire also leveled several blocks of the original neighborhood, demolishing much of the early architecture.

Algiers Point Today

While some early buildings still exist, including several Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian styles, the District is now largely comprised of early 20th century architectural styles.

Given its long history as an independent municipality, Algiers Point retains a small-town atmosphere, largely independent from the bustle of the French Quarter and the rest of the city despite its close proximity. Today, it’s a favorite for local musicians and artists. Some even refer to it as “the Brooklyn of New Orleans.”

Landmarks and Events

Some great locations to visit in Algiers Point include:

Cafes, Restaurants and Bars

Homey pubs and restaurants are a staple in Algiers Point:

Algiers Point has something for everyone. If the lovely old oak trees and pastel cottages don’t charm you, the parks, restaurants and galleries certainly will. Check out the rest of my neighborhood series to learn about other great areas in New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Algiers Point

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: St. Claude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Claude Avenue has emerged as a New Orleans hotspot for locals and tourists alike, attracting visitors with a string of art galleries, dance clubs, live music and restaurants. The St. Claude neighborhood, also known as the Upper 9th Ward, has become a mecca for fringe artists and performers seeking to align themselves with a more “authentic” version of New Orleans. The neighborhood includes the attractions of St. Claude Avenue, as well as plenty of residential space within its interior. It’s one of the oldest parts of the city, and much of it remains largely unchanged, offering charming historic housing stock for a fraction of the price. It’s an up-and-coming area that, given its slate of younger residents, thriving art scene, and recent press, some might argue has already made it big.

St. Claude is a subdistrict of the Bywater District, which has also garnered national attention for its recent renaissance. St. Claude’s boundaries, as defined by the City Planning Commission, include: Law, Montegut and North Galvez Streets to the north, Lesseps Street to the East, Burgundy Street, Clouet Street and St. Claude Avenue to the south, and Franklin Avenue to the west.

History

In colonial times, the area consisted mostly of plantation land, with residential development starting in the first decade of the 19th century. The area was known as part of the predominantly French “downtown” section of New Orleans. Soon, St. Claude welcomed settlers from Spain and the French Caribbean, and, later in the century, white and mixed-race Creoles, as well as immigrants from Germany, Italy and Ireland.

The neighborhood began attracting artistic communities in the late 1990s. Pre-Katrina, St. Claude Avenue was a gritty street populated by furniture stores and a smattering of oddball shops. The neighborhood was working-class and predominantly black. Post-Katrina, it’s a mix of flood-ravaged homes, trash-littered streets, and higher-ground areas containing well-maintained, historic homes and changing demographics. The high ground section on the Mississippi River side of St. Claude Avenue escaped significant flooding, as did areas on the Gentilly Ridge and along the lakefront fill. Other areas contain strings of uninhabitable, abandoned homes.

The Desire streetcar line, made famous by Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire, links St. Claude with the rest of the city. Bywater and St. Claude are often referred to as the “old neighborhood,” by locals who lament the ongoing trend of gentrification.

St. Claude Today

St. Claude is a mix of old and new. It’s still home to gritty streets and general ruin, yet hipsters, artists and bohemians have flocked there, rehabbing old homes, driving up prices and opening the city’s hippest cafes, galleries and wellness studios. No longer a fringe phenomenon, St. Claude is becoming a universal destination, earning mention in nearly all of the city’s press.

Landmarks:

Some of the most notable landmarks in St. Claude include:

The Musicians’ VIllage: An artist’s community designed to aid local musicians and preserve the city’s culture following Hurricane Katrina.

Ellis Marsalis Center for Music: Facility serving at-risk children, youth and musicians.

St. Claude Arts District: An artist-run arts district comprised of over two dozen collectives, co-ops and pop-ups along St. Claude Avenue.

New Orleans Healing Center: A community center featuring a fitness center, art galleries, a yoga studio, a voodoo shop, and more.

Dancing Grounds: A dance studio offering dance classes and community youth programs.

The New Movement: An improv and sketch comedy theater offering fresh shows seven days a week.

Cafes, Restaurants and Bars:

Most coveted hot spots are on or around St. Claude Avenue. Be sure to visit:

N7:  Elegant French wine bar named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit.

Sneaky Pickle: A highly rated vegan restaurant using locally-sourced ingredients.

Junction: A tavern serving over 40 beers on tap and fancy burgers.

St. Coffee on St. Claude: A highly regarded cafe serving great coffee, vegan snacks and herbal concoctions.

Saturn Bar: A dive bar that showcases alternative bands, guest DJs and dance parties.

Expect for St. Claude to continue to grow in popularity as it takes a central position in NOLA’s art scene and tourism.

Check out the rest of my neighborhood series to learn about other great areas in New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: St. Claude

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Gert Town

Thinking of exploring another distinct area of New Orleans? The Gert Town neighborhood is an often overlooked slice of history nestled into the fabric of a diverse city. As the home of Xavier University of Louisiana and small local businesses, the neighborhood has slowly become redeveloped several years after the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

While the neighborhood has had its share of hardships, it’s history is a unique introspect into the history, politics, and culture of the city. Let’s explore the background of this place, home to working people who help make up the soul of the city.

History

A general consensus relates that the name Gert Town was derived from Gehrke’s Town, a leading general store located in the neighborhood at Carrollton and Colapissa streets around the turn-of-the-century. As a local gathering place, it housed the area’s only telephone at the time. In 1900, The Tulane St. Charles Belt streetcar line was established and it passed through the Gert Town section on Carrollton Avenue. The route helped establish development in the area. By 1902, the public Lincoln and the adjacent Johnson Parks were popular gathering spots for African Americans in an era where public spaces were racially segregated. Both these parks featured skating rinks and balloon ascent exhibits. It also served as a popular dance space which featured singers and musicians like the notable Buddy Bolden and Bunk Johnson.

Today, visitors will notice an old, winding street pattern which was developed around the bends of the Mississippi River. As the neighborhood’s elevation is much lower than other areas, it was often referred to as the swamp “back of town” section. In the past, major streets would end before entering the area. After a limited amount of residential development in the late 1800s and early 1900s progressed, the older Uptown streets that run perpendicular to the river met in the Gert Town and Mid-City sections. During this time, many side streets were unpaved than those in surrounding neighborhoods. The small section of the city was also more isolated than other areas because of the New Basin Canal, located where Interstate 10 stands today.

Modern Day

Gert Town has often been identified as an overlooked neighborhood of New Orleans. During Hurricane Katrina, Gert Town was significantly flooded due to its low-lying altitude. However, certain sections like thoroughfares along Jefferson Davis Parkway and Carrollton Avenue went largely unscathed. Although recovery remained slow, the neighborhood is getting back on its feet. Today, Gert Town is a designated as a strategic zone of the city that is to benefit from redevelopment and community reinforcement and engagement.

Landmarks:

There are many old, famous architectural buildings that harken back to the working class days of the mid-19th century to check out!

Restaurants:

In addition, there is a diverse range of small ethnic restaurants and bakeries that are hidden treasures in the neighborhood.

As Gert Town continues to undergo community engagement and redevelopment, make sure to support these local businesses and the people that call this community home. Enjoy the sights housed in an area that is one of the touchstones of NOLA’s community, and wander hidden streets in this small, tucked away section of New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Gert Town

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Fairgrounds

Screenshot//Bayou St. John B&B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Fair Grounds Race Course — as well as the
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival held there — have made Fairgrounds famous to those outside the Big Easy. For residents, there are many more reasons to love this NOLA neighborhood. From its laid-back residential streets to its boutique shops and local eateries, Fairgrounds has much to offer.  

A subdistrict of the Mid-City District Area, Fairgrounds sits directly east of City Park (go see those oak trees!). According to the City Planning Commission, Fairgrounds is bordered by Bayou St. John (the waterway) to the west, N Broad Street to the east, Esplanade Avenue to the south, and Florida Avenue to the north.

So you can gain a better understanding of life in Fairgrounds, let’s take a look at the past, present, and future of the neighborhood.

Fairgrounds History

Native Americans first arrived to what makes up present-day Fairgrounds via the Mississippi River and Bayou St. John. It’s said that the Houma people camped along the Bayou and settled here.

Europeans settled parts of Fairgrounds during the 1700s and early 1800s, and soon brought enslaved Africans. Over time, plantations were built sparingly across the swampy land, with rice and sugar as the favored crops.  

An exciting bit of history during the early 1800s is that a Haitian named “Dr. John”, the Father of New Orleans Voodoo, is believed to have lived and performed rituals in the area, along with his followers. This directly connects the Fairgrounds neighborhood to the development of Louisiana Voodoo.

Residential homes began being built in the 1830s, but a lot of housing development in Fairgrounds occurred between 1880 and 1930, with continued building up till today. This is why you’ll encounter all types of architectural styles here, from Acadian cottages to Mediterranean Revival villas to Flatiron-style buildings.

Fairgrounds Today

An economically and racially diverse neighborhood, Fairgrounds’ continued development, relative affordability, and central location have created a bustling community today.

Landmarks like Fair Grounds and Saint Louis Cemetery No. 3 certainly bolster its name recognition, but Fairgrounds truly delights with its old-fashioned New Orleans charm and close-knit atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where neighbors know each other by name.

Within the neighborhood, pedestrian- and bike-friendly streets make exploring and enjoying the neighborhood a breeze. Additionally, major attractions in the Big Easy, like the French Quarter and New Orleans Museum of Art, are right beyond Fairgrounds’ borders.

Landmarks and Events

Fairgrounds has numerous famous locations to visit and events to attend, including:

Cafes, Restaurants, and Bars

The bulk of Fairgrounds’ eateries and bars dot Esplanade Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard. Notable establishments include:

  • Liuzza’s by the Track: A casual Creole tavern famous for its signature shrimp BBQ po’ boys.
  • Lola’s: Enjoy authentic Spanish food that’s been infused with flavors from local Creole cuisine.
  • Cafe Degas: A quaint spot for tasty French fare.

Indeed, Fairgrounds is a unique and amazing place to be. Look for the neighborhood to continue its growth in popularity in the coming years — as it has all the ingredients you could need.

Check out the rest of my neighborhood series to learn about other great areas in New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Fairgrounds