New Orleans Neighborhood Series: The Garden District

Garden District mansion in New Orleans framed by trees

 

The Garden District is one of the most enchanting and beautiful districts in New Orleans. Characterized by lush gardens, tree-lined streets, and opulent homes, the district is a popular real estate hotspot for residents and even celebrities like Beyonce and Jay Z. Today, the district is considered one of the best preserved collections of historic mansions in the Southern United States.

As we learn about New Orleans and its history, this spotlight on the Garden District can offer some insight and history into NOLA’s varied past:

History

The first developments in the Garden District were dotted with large, sprawling plantation homes including the famous Livaudais Plantation. The land was eventually sold off in sections to wealthy proprietors who wanted to live away from the crowds in the French Quarter. It was first established as part of the city of Lafayette in 1833 and became a part of the city of New Orleans in 1852. Originally designed, planned, and surveyed by architect Barthelemy Lafon, the district saw major development until 1900. Originally, the district was planned with only two houses per block, surrounded by lush gardens which is from where it’s famous name derived. As New Orleans became more urbanized the large plots were divided into smaller lots for more construction. Today, visitors will see a couple large, early 19th century mansions sitting next gingerbread-style Victorian houses on many of the neighborhood’s blocks.

Part of the district is declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974 for its architectural history.

Famous Landmarks

Most visitors and tourists visit the district for it’s architecture rather than its gardens today, but both are part of the Garden District’s unique experience. Visitors should check out these historic architectural landmarks:

Adam – Jones House, 2423 Prytania Street
The house was constructed for John I. Adams, a merchant who purchased the section of the former Jacques Francois de Livaudais plantation which later became the Garden District. Adams purchased the property in 1860, built the residence, and lived in it until 1896. Shifting various owners over the next century, it was restored from 1961-1962 by Mrs. Hamilton Polk Jones. It was established as historical in 1995 by the New Orleans Landmarks Commission.

George Washington Cable House, 1313 8th Street
Located on the Garden District’s west side, the building was built by author Cable in 1874 after the publication of his short story, Sieur George. It’s also the house where Cable wrote and was influenced by native New Orleans culture.  Mark Twain was also a guest. The single-story structure features a full-height basement and columns which provide an arcade.

Buckner Mansion, 1410 Jackson Ave
Known for its many ghost stories, The Buckner Mansion has reached more popularity since its appearance on the TV series American Horror Story: Coven. Built in 1856, the 20,000 square foot property was owned by cotton king Henry S. Buckner. It also used to be Soule Business College from 1923-1973. But now, it’s a popular destination for tourists, film crews, and vacationers for its beauty and southern charm. Staying at the mansion will cost a pretty penny ($20,000/night) so it’s best to go for a tour.

Brevard-Rice House, 1239 First Street
The beautiful antique mansion was owned by the Brevard heirs from 1859-1869. Later purchased by Emory Clapp who constructed a library on the left wing, it remained in the Clapp family until 1935. Then it was owned by a slew of other notable people in New Orleans society. Today, it is owned by novelist Anne Rice and her husband. Tourists can take a gander at the stunning columns and architecture as it was created a landmark site in 1991.

Joseph Carroll House, 1315 First Street
After you stop by the Brevard-Rice spot, check out the cast-iron beauty that was built in 1969. The elegant Italianate mansion played host to Mark Twain in 1886. While here check out the carriage house as well.

Walter Grinnan Robinson House, 1415 Third Street
One historical house you need to check out when you stop by the Garden District is this Henry Howard mansion. The 1859 creation features adjacent servant quarters and stables–which underwent a renovation– that offers historical and cultural insight into the antebellum south.

This spotlight on the history and the prominent landmarks in the Garden District can offer you a walking tour that helps anyone appreciate decadent architecture and the complex history of New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: The Garden District

Riverfront Developments in NOLA

New Orleans Mississippi River at Sunset

Characterized by its charming landscape and rich architecture, New Orleans’ offers a romantic cityscape with a scenic placement on the Mississippi River and its close proximity to the Gulf Coast and its interconnecting swamplands.

Decades ago, the Mississippi River was hardly visible through the industrial warehouses that blocked the view from the French Quarter. However, now the riverfront is a development hotspot which aims to help revitalize New Orleans downtown district.

The east bank riverfront has many projects starting to transform the neighborhood. Efforts to update the waterfront were developed in the 1970s, starting with the Moonwalk by Jackson Square, but newer plans are expected to increase tourism, improve employment, and spur economic revenue for years to come. These new project can offer a better quality of life which can greatly benefit local communities.

Reinvesting the Crescent

Reinvesting the Crescent, a project from the New Orleans Building Corporation, is spearheading the redevelopment of six miles of unused industrial and commercial space along the Mississippi River.

Phase 1 of the project focused on Crescent Park. Park space is dedicated to revitalizing the riverside space by reconnecting the city with its communities. The outdoor space offers scenic views of the river and is designed by architects George Hargreaves, David Adjaye, Michael Maltzan, and Allen Eskew. The new park will include 1.4 miles of open space with 20 acres of landscaping that include native plants, bike paths, a dog walk/run, playgrounds, and to multi-purpose pavilions. Spanning from Marigny’s Elysian Fields Avenue to Poland Avenue in the Bywater neighborhood, the park will utilize self-reliant alternative energies and a basic economic model. The park is also designed to be financially self-sufficient, implementing resources that will help recycle and save resources in the long-run.

Design of Crescent Park

An important part of constructing Crescent Park was to transform and improve the space while preserving visual elements of the city’s commercial port past. The Mandeville Shed and Piety Wharf are linked together by a linear Park and Piety Gardens to offer a balanced experience that provides community interactions and active recreations. These project will integrate natural borders that implement railroad tracks, boxcar hedges, and native species of plants to enhance the vibrant space.

However, there are also various other projects that are still in development. They include:  

Trade District Development

One of the biggest projects to jumpstart the next phase of planning includes the revitalization of 47 acres of vacant land upriver from the Pontchartrain Expressway. Howard Hughes Corp and Joe Jaeger, a local developer, have plans to create new neighborhoods with apartments, condos, restaurants, and entertainment areas. In fact, Jaeger has recently purchased the Market Street Power Plant that will transform into a mixed-use entertainment and commercial district.

Currently, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and Manning Architects are working on a redesign for the neighborhoods that include improved access to the waterfront, green spaces. The project is even expected to rival the Woldenberg project in terms of activity and size. An extremely exciting aspect of the project which could spark interest in the area is an educational campus, museum, and a culinary emporium. A landmark tower will also mark the site as a major attraction in the downtown area.

Potential Projects

Other potential projects also lie on the horizon. An idea to build up the city’s old Navy facility in Bywater could be lucrative. Named the Port of Embarkation, developers wish to change the area into several mid-rise residential buildings with green parks and outdoor amphitheaters. In the future, we may also see another cruise ship terminal at Poland Avenue with a waterfront restaurant.

There are constantly new and ongoing negotiations to create more attention to the riverfront, like adding public gathering spaces or an entirely new $1 billion neighborhoods. However, some of this will depend on public money, private investments, and political outcomes. Yet, this is an exciting time for New Orleans to redevelop its naturally beautiful landscapes.

Riverfront Developments in NOLA

Affordable Housing Projects in NOLA

Affordable housing is an essential priority for many communities across the United States. Recently, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University researched the State of the Nation’s Housing, reporting that access to affordable housing is under threat with over 11 million rent burdened households in the United States.

In New Orleans, the state of affordable housing is in a crisis. The 2016 Katrina Index reports that since the storm, home values rose by 54% and rent is up 50%. The annual household income needed to afford rent in New Orleans is $38,000, but nearly 71% of workers earn wages averaging $35,000. However, some city planners are seeking ways to curb the affordable housing shortage.

Here are some ways NOLA is trying to curb the lack of affordable housing:

Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP2)

A project of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, NSP2 has created over 425 homes for residents. The Authority has helped establish the program by contributing properties to be redeveloped in neighborhoods throughout the city. The investments have direct and positive impacts on the growth and quality of neighborhoods and families that reside in these new homes. The program stays dedicated to the development of residential neighborhoods by offering financing, land, and interactive partnerships with housing developers to build attractive, vibrant communities and energy efficient homes in underserved communities. Check out their major development projects!

HousingNOLA

Created in 2015, the program has a 10-year mission to address the affordable housing crisis. As a community-focused housing initiative, they have led community discussions to include residents as they address the needs of New Orleans. Their goal is to develop 3,000 affordable homes by 2018. According to the Executive Director, Andreanecia Morris, they are seeking to preserve established housing units and increase the future affordable housing supply, while trying to prevent future displacement through development activities and continued policy review and research. They also encourage sustainable design. Of note, they also focus on improving accessibility to homes for all demographics, including special needs residents.

The program is funded by local, state, and federal money, public policy advocacy, and working with private real estate developers and non-profit groups. By 2021, their goal is to have established 5,000 homes.

Thus far, HousingNOLA has remained dedicated to funding homeowners and supporting landlord rehabilitation housing to help revitalize neighborhoods and mandatory studies that focus on inclusionary zoning. They have also introduced HANO’s criminal background policy in 2013. The policy is designed to help remove roadblocks for formerly convicted citizens so they can secure affordable housing.

The Smart Housing Mix Ordinance Study

The pilot program and study is designed to help increase New Orleans’ affordable housing. The Smart Housing Mix Ordinance Study calls for the City Planning Commission to survey the creation and implementation of Smart Housing which includes safer and healthier constructions. Smart Housing could influence market rate developers to construct and maintain lower-priced housing through incentives like offering variances to the city’s zoning ordinances and codes. This small step could advocate for more affordable housing to be built in New Orleans.

Large-scale efforts to help establish affordable housing is needed on a large-scale basis. Hopefully, with the swift implementation of these programs, NOLA can help provide better homes and neighborhoods for in-need communities.

Affordable Housing Projects in NOLA

National Parks of New Orleans

When asked about national parks, most people picture expansive landscapes in the American West, like Yellowstone, or Yosemite. But some national parks in the U.S. don’t fit this representation.  As our National Parks Service Director Jonathan Jarvis reminds us, a few of our nation’s most fascinating national parks and monuments are located outside of the American west. “You won’t find bears and waterfalls in them,” Jarvis told a reporter while visiting New Orleans’ Jazz National Historical Park earlier this year.

To mark its 100th anniversary in 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) offers park visitors the chance to participate in a variety of NPS centennial events in New Orleans. Summer is a great time to visit New Orleans’ national parks. Read on to learn more about them!


Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is comprised of six individual sites across south Louisiana, and three of them (The French Quarter Visitor Center, the Barataria Preserve, and Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery) are located in or in close proximity to New Orleans:

419 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70130 (map)

The French Quarter Visitor Center offers a fascinating peek inside Louisiana’s rich history, culture, and geography. Take a ranger-led tour to learn about the area’s culinary traditions. The Visitor Center is also headquarters to the Jean Lafitte Junior Ranger program. Kids who participate in the Junior Ranger program can explore Jean Lafitte sites via scavenger hunts, interactive puzzles, and other engaging and fun learning experiences.

6588 Barataria Boulevard, Marrero, LA 70072 (map)

Bataria-preserve-NPS
Barataria Preserve (Marrero, LA)

Jean Lafitte’s Barataria Preserve is home to 23,000 acres of wetlands and marshes. Although considered mysterious by many, the swamps should be appreciated for their natural beauty and amazing plant and animal life.Outdoorsy types will enjoy hiking trails that meander through the preserve’s forests, bayous, and swamps. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the preserve’s many bird species and wildlife. Bataria is famous for its iconic blue irises, which should be in full bloom.

8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette, LA 70042 (map)

History buffs will enjoy touring Chalmette Battlefield, an enduring symbol of the War of 1812. Chalmette, the site of the Battle of New Orleans, is where Andrew Jackson led a rag-tag militia of frontiersmen, former slaves, and local Indians to victory over the British. Adjacent to the battlefield, Chalmette National Cemetery honors thousands of veterans who fought in American conflicts spanning the 19th and 20th centuries.

Chalmette National Cemetery
Chalmette National Cemetery + Battlefield (Chalmette, LA)

 

New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park 

New Orleans’ Jazz NHP celebrates the heritage and cultural importance of jazz music and offers immersive experiences where visitors can learn about jazz through biographies, oral histories, and self-guided tours. The Park has also played an integral role in the restoration of the Old U.S. Mint building, one of many French Quarter landmarks that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Thanks to a $2 million Park Service grant that funded its revitalization, the New Orleans’ Jazz NHP now hosts concerts and world-class performances inside the reopened landmark.

louis-armstrong-park-statue


Information + Resources for Visitors:

Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours

Bataria Paddle / Kayak Trails

Music At The Mint

National Park Service Centennial Band

The Urban Agenda is a NPS effort to connect its urban parks and make them more relevant to all Americans.

Find Your Park, the centerpiece of the NPS’ 2016 Centennial, provides a digital space for Americans to share their National Park experiences.

National Parks of New Orleans

Planning a move to New Orleans? Lighten your load with these resources.

New Orleans moving resources
New Orleans neighborhood map

Among U.S. cities, New Orleans is a top destination for millennials on the move. It’s not hard to see why this demographic wants to head to the gulf coast. The growth of New Orleans’ economy, fueled by real estate development and an expanding technology industry, has made the region an attractive place for those seeking new opportunities.

As far as American cities go, New Orleans is as culturally rich as it gets. Acquainting yourself with the city is a fun process, but an ongoing one–and it can be difficult to know where to start.  For people looking to relocate, New Orleans has so much to offer. Take advantage of these resources to prepare for your New Orleans move!

LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD:

Moving: all too often, it’s more stressful and more expensive than it has to be. Bellhops–a moving company which serves those relocating to metro areas in the southern U.S.–is an affordable and worthwhile investment. Dubbed the “Uber for moving,” the Chattanooga-based startup has earned accolades for its reliability among people in their 20s and 30s who are newcomers to the region.

GET A FEEL FOR NOLA’s HOUSING MARKET:

New Orleans is comprised of seventy-two different neighborhoods, each with its own distinct look and flavor. Because cost of living and access to transportation varies among neighborhoods, educating yourself about NOLA’s real estate market is especially helpful if you want to find housing options that suit your budget and lifestyle. The following websites offer useful statistics and information to help you find your home sweet home.

http://nola.curbed.com/new-orleans-rent-comparisons

http://destinationgno.com/

And if you’re curious how different neighborhoods compare in terms of their green infrastructure or bike-friendliness, a  new mapping tool, developed for New Orleans by the national Trust for Public Land’s Climate-Smart Cities initiative, collects and visualizes environmental data down to the neighborhood-, street- and property-level. For cycling-enthusiasts, a local advocacy group called Bike Easy also hosts fun events aimed at making biking in New Orleans easier and safer.

Planning a move to New Orleans? Lighten your load with these resources.

The National World War 2 Museum is a Must-See in New Orleans

New Orleans is home to the LCVP, or Higgins boat. The LCVP is the landing craft used during World War II to bring US troops onto the shore. During the war, 20,000 LCVPs were tested in Louisiana. Their contribution was so important that in 1964 Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that Andrew Jackson Higgins and Higgins Industries, the LCVP’s designers, “…won the war for us.”

New Orleans’ contributions to the war effort didn’t go unnoticed by the likes of Dr. Stephen Ambrose. Dr. Ambrose founded and established The National WWII Museum in 2000 after collecting more than 2,000 oral histories from D-Day veterans and discovering that the U.S. had no museum to commemorate their efforts and experiences.

Today, guests are welcome to hear the stories of American soldiers’ experiences during the war. Not only is the museum important for its cultural significance, it is also New Orleans’ top-rated tourist destination according to TripAdvisor–reaching #3 on its top museums in the country list.

The museum features an array of narratives, immersive experiences and an incredible collection of artifacts, amongst other insightful and intriguing features. Featuring an amazing restaurant – The American Sector, the museum also serves as an exquisite event space for special gatherings. With an expansive list of options, it serves as an ideal destination for large and small gatherings alike.

Whether you are looking for an immersive learning, or to host an event at an original venue, be sure to check out The National WWII Museum.

The National World War 2 Museum is a Must-See in New Orleans

French Quarter Festival 2016

Source: French Quarter Fests, Inc.
Source: French Quarter Fests, Inc.

The French Quarter Festival (a/k/a the biggest free music festival in the South) is back this April 7-10. With over 200 hours of music across 23 stages, the French Quarter will be alive with music even more than it usually is.

The four-day festival packs in over 400 acts in its 33rd year. The traditional spread of NOLA sounds, from traditional jazz to funk to the undefinable, will take the stage this time around. Of course, it wouldn’t be New Orleans without over 60 food and beverage booths to satisfy your hunger and thirst pangs.

This year’s lineup includes:

Thursday, April 7

  • Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band
  • Cha Wa
  • Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra
  • Ellis Marsalis
  • Fredy Omar con su Banda
  • The Joe Krown Trio
  • John Boutte
  • Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers
  • The Revelers
  • The Tin Men

Friday, April 8, 2016

  • Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band
  • The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
  • Hot 8 Brass Band
  • Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans
  • James Andrews
  • Leroy Jones’ Original Hurricane Brass Band
  • Leroy Thomas & the Zydeco Roadrunners
  • Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington and the Roadmasters
  • Waylon Thibodeaux Band

Saturday, April 9, 2016

  • Big Chief Bo Dollis, Jr. & the Wild Magnolias
  • Big Sam’s Funky Nation
  • Casa Samba Extravaganza
  • Charmaine Neville
  • Flow Tribe
  • Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue
  • Little Freddie King
  • Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns
  • New Breed Brass Band
  • New Orleans Classic Jazz Orchestra
  • The New Orleans Jazz Vipers
  • Tank and The Bangas

Sunday, April 10, 2016

  • Brass-A-Holics
  • Chegadão
  • Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers
  • Goat in the Road (Comedy Troupe)
  • Guitar Slim, Jr.
  • Guitarist John Rankin
  • Los Po-Boy-Citos
  • The Original Pinettes Brass Band
  • Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters
  • Shannon Powell Traditional All-Star Band
  • Treme Brass Band

So come on out and see the diverse spirit and sounds of this great city! For more on the festival, take a look at this video from Go NOLA.

French Quarter Festival 2016