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.

Advertisements
New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Federal City

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: Lakewood

Louisiana Travel/Flickr

NOLA’s Lakewood neighborhood is an elegant and beautified subdistrict in the Lakeview District Area. A low-lying neighborhood, it is known for its lush scenery, residential communities, tidy homes, and historic characteristics that make the small neighborhood a unique area in New Orleans.

The City Planning Commission defines its borders as Veterans Memorial Boulevard to the north and Pontchartrain Boulevard and the Pontchartrain Expressway to the east. Numerous streets make up the neighborhood’s southern border including Last, Dixon, Hamilton, Peach, Mistletoe, and Quince among others. The 17th Street Canal makes up Lakewood’s western border.

History

Before many residential construction began in the area, the Lakewood Country Club acted as a major social hub for decades and later it would help establish the small subdistrict. After the completion of I-10 and I-610 routes in the 1960s, a large part of the land where the Lakewood Country Club’s golf course was established was expropriated for the huge interchange. The Country Club then relocated to New Orleans’ Algiers neighborhood. The remaining golf land was then redeveloped as Lakewood North and Lakewood South districts. While the old clubhouse stood for years, it was eventually used for the New Orleans Academy which is now closed. Ultimately, the club house was torn down to make way for the LDS Church which in turn was demolished after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Longue Vue Historic House and Gardens

One main appeal of this quiet, picturesque neighborhood is the National Historic Landmark, Longue Vue Historic House and Gardens. Built between 1939 and 1942 for  Edgar and Edith Stern, the house was designed by architects William and Geoffrey Platt, Ellen Biddle Shipman, and the Platt Brothers. The stunning home and gardens now stand as a feat of utility and beauty combining both house and gardens. The 8 acre property boasts 8 dependencies, 5 structures, 14 garden areas, and 22 fountains and ponds. It is one of the last Country Place Era homes built in the United States. In 2005, the site was also named a National Historic Landmark. The gardens are especially noted for its large range of flowers and significant because the female designer, Ellen Biddle Shipman, exercised complete control over its creation.

Not only does the home host a number of tours, they also offer events such as yoga classes and other activities. In addition, summer camp and other educational opportunities allow students of all ages to experience the joys of the house and gardens.

In addition, the Metairie Cemetery which boasts the largest collection of funeral statues and elaborate marble tombs in the city. The site was the previous site of a horse racing track in 1838.

If you’re looking for an elegant area to stroll and enjoy the natural beauty of New Orleans, then this is a great neighborhood that’s tucked away from the busy central are of the city. Enjoy the landscaped marvels and the sophistication the Lakewood neighborhood has to offer.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Lakewood

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Audubon

As a subdistrict of Uptown/Carrollton section, New Orleans’ Audubon neighborhood is an area that demands its own respect and admiration. Plenty of New Orleans natives have differing opinion on what makes up the boundaries of the Audubon neighborhood. According to the City Planning Commission definition it starts from S. Claiborne Avenue to the river. It’s historic architecture is bisected by St. Charles Avenue and NOLA’s famous streetcar line.

Throughout the neighborhood, beautiful tree-lined streets and decadent streets are seen. The Audubon district is home to many prominent and distinct New Orleans sites from The Audubon Park to famous Loyola and Tulane Universities. Let’s explore and learn a bit The Audubon neighborhood’s history!

History

In the early 19th century, a growing New Orleans town spread upriver and began to include spreads of farmlands, plantations, and villages into its vastly developing boundaries. By 1870, the area was almost completely populated with the exception of one plantation. The City of New Orleans originally purchased the land to turn into a park. However, no developments were made until the 1884 World’s Fair Cotton Centennial came to town. Today, visitors may still see the only remaining artifact from the fair; a metallic bolder on the east side of Audubon Park’s golf course, referred to by locals as “The Meteorite”. After the fair, the land between St. Charles Avenue and the Mississippi River were developed into Audubon Park. In addition, the area on behind St. Charles Avenue was divided into home for Tulane and Loyola University students.

In the past, the neighborhood also included a long strip on either side of Broadway. Before the district became a part of New Orleans in 1870, it was referred to the town of Greenville. At times, visitors may hear residents refer to the neighborhood that lies upriver from the park as Greenville. Today, visitors can still find the Historic Greenville Hall on St. Charles Avenue, just up the street from Broadway and in the middle of the district’s third University, St. Mary’s Dominican College (1910-1984). Now, this spot is part of Loyola University’s property and acts as a satellite campus.

Current Day

Today, the Audubon section is home to prestigious universities with a bevy of students occupiers. Many properties are expensive surrounding the campuses with adjacent streets filled with highly-valued, premium real estate in the city. The neighborhood is also often referred to as the University area, uptown from New Orleans main districts. In addition, the Audubon Park is a lovely attraction and remains one of the largest parks in the city. It holds numerous preservation projects including aquarium and nature center. It is also home to the Audubon Zoo where visitors can spot rare white alligators near the upper part of Magazine Street. Riverboats can escort guests to the Zoo from the Central Business District.

Visitors will find plenty of foot traffic in this section, with many students, joggers, and bikers, making for a very lively and active neighborhood.

Landmarks:

Restaurants/Food:

The Audubon home is a lively and active neighborhood filled with so much culture, history, and education. It’s a peaceful, but vibrant neighborhood to explore and you’ll catch numerous photo ops while strolling through. As one of the most beautiful parts of New Orleans, it’s a great place to stop, look, and think about NOLA’s culture.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Audubon

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Tulane/Gravier

Screenshot of University Medical Center New Orleans

Situated on the borders of famous neighborhoods, The Tulane/Gravier area of New Orleans is a neighborhood that is a subdistrict of the Mid City neighborhood. The City Planning Commission designates its borders as St. Louis Street to its north, North Claiborne Avenue, and Iberville Street. North and South Derbigny Streets and Cleveland Streets also comprise its street borders to the east. The famous Pontchartrain Expressway makes up its south border.

Mostly residential, the area is known for its diversity and nightlife. Let’s take a closer look at this New Orleans neighborhood:

Tulane/Gravier History

The neighborhood was first settled by European Jesuits. However, they were expelled from the Louisiana territory by the King of France in 1763 while the neighborhood land was sold at auction. Over the next 50 years, it changed private ownership many times. Some of its owners include Andres Reynard, Juan Pradel, and Bertrand and Jean Gravier. A small part of the land was granted to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1806 for his service during the Revolutionary War. The former boundaries of the neighborhood were Iberville, North Rampart and North Galvez Streets, and Common Street. By 1840 to 1841, the newest owner John Hagan purchased the land, called it Faubourg Hagan and sold it. The neighborhood — a triangular shape between Claiborne and Galvez on Tulane Avenue — comprised 41 city blocks.

The neighborhood was named in honor of Paul Tulane, the founder of Tulane University and a major financial benefactor to education in Louisiana, along with the founders of Faubourg St. Mary’s, the Graviers.

In the early 19th century, commercial development boomed, particularly along Broad, Tulane, and Canal Streets. The new construction started to replace single and two-family structures along its interior corridors. By the 1950s and 1960s, more industrial construction became prominent within the area. In the 1990s, multi-family homes became converted in lower numbers. Now, mainly a commercial area, many residential buildings were also demolished. As a result, community residents formed community development corporations that assisted in the citywide renovations throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Present Day

The Tulane/Gravier neighborhood is now becoming revitalized with many low-income residents calling the area home. A mix of commercial and residential zoning has given rise to  manufacturing plants and other industrial complexes.

Landmarks:

There are several community facilities that make up significant landmarks in the neighborhood. This includes:

Walking through the streets of the neighborhood will give visitors a sense of both industrial and residential history of the city, along with the wide influence of diverse ethnicities who now populate the area. Enjoy your stroll through the neighborhood!

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Tulane/Gravier

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Bywater

Bywater district map.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans is the epitome of culture and ceremony. Each neighborhood has its own intimate history, story, and landmarks. The Bywater subdistrict is another unique area that has served as a significant reminder in NOLA’s history. The neighborhood acts as the starting place for festival krewes during Mardi Gras which gathers a procession of marchers as it makes its way to the French Quarter.

Today its Bywater Historic District is listed National Register of Historic Places. However, many people don’t realize the rich history of each neighborhood. Let’s explore the background of the Bywater:

History

In the colonial era, the Bywater was the site of a plantation. In the early 1800s, private homes were constructed as part of the “Faubourg Washington” which was part of the Fancophone downtown area. Settlers from Spain, France, and the French Caribbean came to the area seeking religious refuge or new, prosperous ways of life. As the century progressed, white Creoles and mixed-race Creoles lived by immigrants from Germany, Italy, and Ireland.

The Bywater is famous for the location at which Homer Plessy was removed by authorities from an East Louisiana Railroad car for violating the separate car act. The incident led to Plessy v. Ferguson. A historical marker stands at the corners of Press and Royal street to commemorate the events.

The area was also considered the Lower 9th Ward before the Industrial Canal was build in the early 20th century, dividing the two areas. While some generations knew the area as the Upper 9th Ward. However, as other parts of the upper neighborhood developed, a new name was needed. The local telephone exchange designated the area Bywater and it fit the neighborhood’s proximity to the River and the Canal. By the 1940s, it was permanently called Bywater.

With the advent of the nearby 1994 Louisiana World Exposition, many long-time residents from the French Quarter moved down river, first to Marigny. But by the late 1990s, the bohemian communities originally living in the French Quarter had spread to the Bywater. Old Victorian houses were refurbished as artistic residents moved in.

Today, Bywater is known as one of the most colorful neighborhoods in the city with elegant architectural styles that mirror the colonial French and Spanish elements similar to the Caribbean. Now, it stands as a trademark of New Orleans architecture.

During Hurricane Katrina, some areas of the neighborhood were badly damaged by the storm. However, the river side of St. Claude Avenue was one of the few sections of the 9th ward to escape major flooding. It is now one of the areas that has made great strides in recovery.

Cultural Significance

During NOLA’s Mardi Gras celebrations, the Society of Saint Anne starts their procession in the area. The parade travels through the French Quarter and ends on Canal Street. The parade gathers local residents, artists, and street performers as it moves along the streets. The Bywater Bone Boys Social Aid and Pleasure Club, made up of tattooed artisans, writers, painters, designers, musicians, and many other locals leads the procession before 7 a.m.

The area was a neighborhood where many residents settled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina because of its high elevation and that it’s close to the Mississippi River. In NOLA culture, the neighborhood became known as the “Silver by the River” because portions of it saw no flooding, like Faubourg Marigny, the French Quarter, and the Irish Channel.

Landmarks

While you’re in the Bywater, there are several spots and locations you should visit. Adding a mix of cultural prominence and cultural interest, the neighborhood is a relaxed and introspective part of the city. Be sure to check out:

Restaurants:

The neighborhood is great for convenience, but it’s also known as a vibrant social scene which sets the stage for the friendly neighborhood feel that New Orleans can offer many of its visitors. It’s a great way to get to know the locals and the everyday lifestyles of New Orleans citizens!

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Bywater

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: The Irish Channel

A black and white photo of houses in the Irish Channel district.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A historic section of New Orleans with a storied past, The Irish Channel is considered one of the most eclectic areas in the city…and for New Orleans that’s saying a lot! A neighborhood that consists of mainly residential and commercial buildings, the area is a subdistrict of the Central City/Garden District neighborhoods.

According to the New Orleans City Planning Commission, the neighborhood’s boundaries lie at Magazine Street in the north, First Street in the east, the Mississippi River in the south, and Toledano Street to the west. The Irish Channel encompasses .83 square miles, making it an extremely small neighborhood. However, it’s an area that has  significantly added to the culture and economy over the past few centuries.

Our neighborhood series offers you the opportunity to learn more about the Irish Channel’s history and culture:

Irish Channel History

The neighborhood was originally comprised of German, Italian, and African American families living in close proximity. As implied by the name, the Irish Channel was originally settled by Irish immigrants in the 1830s. Docking on Adele Street, penniless immigrants often took shelter in the small cottages near the docks. These simple shelters originated the shotgun house style we see in the area today.

At this time, Irish immigrants arrived mainly to build the New Basin Canal, but were generally treated as expendable labor. As dishonest investors led immigrants to believe that New Orleans had an Irish enclave close to other Irish immigrant populations like New York and Philadelphia, the city subsequently gained the largest Irish population in the American South.

During the period of early immigration, the Irish Channel–then known as Lafayette–was located outside the incorporated city of New Orleans. It wasn’t until 1852 that the neighborhood was formally annexed. Early in its history, the neighborhood developed a reputation for crime, centered on the corners of St. Mary Street and Religious Street, but that characteristic slowly eroded with time.

During the 20th century, a majority of the neighborhood’s population worked for the port of New Orleans before modern shipping innovations reduced the need for manual labor. Many breweries also provided incomes for locals. In the 1960s, the neighborhood became largely African-American in demographic, with minor populations of Americans of Irish and Latino descent whose families had been there for decades. Despite ethnic backgrounds, many diverse locals enjoy parades and parties to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a cultural highlight of the neighborhood to this day.

The Modern Day Irish Channel

Today, the Irish Channel is one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in New Orleans, popular and accessible to residents and tourists. A mix of wealthy and working class residents live in this section and many families are multigenerational, while new residents are always moving in. Being located next to the high ground of the Mississippi River, it is now a desirable and valuable place to settle. Luckily, it survived the flooding and damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Now, a mixture of locally-owned shops and restaurants provide a charming and peaceful backdrop attracts everyone throughout the city and the country.

Landmarks & Attractions:

There are several historical and architectural landmarks in this neighborhood worth checking out. In addition, the local restaurants and bars are great options to enjoy Louisiana Creole and seafood while getting to know the locals:

Restaurants:

The quaint, quiet neighborhood is a nice way to get away from the crowds of Bourbon Street and explore how the locals live. Enjoy your explorations!

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: The Irish Channel