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: 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

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: Bayou St. John

An 1887 painting of the Bayou St. John by William Woodward entitled “Bayou Saint John at end of Grand Route Saint John”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans, the Bayou St. John area boasts a more secluded and peaceful atmosphere of the city. Bayou St. John is known for its haven of tree-lined streets and avenues, gardens, and galleries. It is often referred to as one of the most historic neighborhoods in New Orleans and frequented for its beautiful, natural environment.

If you’re looking to relax or take a contemplative stroll, this largely residential neighborhood is a great way to spend the day by the gentle waters of the bayou. But just as it’s gentle waters flow through the neighborhood so does the history of the city.

History

Also called the Faubourg St. John neighborhood, the neighborhood is bounded by Bayou Road/Gentilly Boulevard and Belfort Avenue to the north, Orleans Avenue to the South, as well as North Broad Street to the East. The Bayou St. John creates its Western boundaries.

Native tribes first guided Jean Baptiste Bienville LeMoyne to the Bayou St. John’s waters in 1708, he knew he wanted to find the present day site of New Orleans by these waters. The five mile separation between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain made transporting materials easy along the bayou. The natives often identified and used this route as the safest and shortest way from the Gulf to the Mississippi River.

Many buildings in the neighborhood were built in the late 1800s up until the early 1900s with many houses along the bayou counted as the oldest remains of the city, dating to the late 1700s and early 1800s. For more than a century the bayou was the main waterway in and out of the city. Originally, the waterway was used as a trade route for the local Native American tribes. In fact, “Bayou” is an adaptation of the Choctaw or Mobilian word “bayuk” or “bayouk”. As European settlers populated the area, many traders, travelers, and residents got their first experience of New Orleans by this stretch of water. It was used as a shortened entryway to Lake Pontchartrain.

In fact, the waterway was part of the lifeblood of the city. In addition to boats —  pulled by horses on either side — being used for travel and commerce, it was also a center for voodoo. Marie Laveau, the famous Voodoo queen, hosted rituals with thousands of practitioners at the Bayou where it was safe from police raids in the early 1800s.

Although neighborhoods were established around the Bayou, the wet environment made it hard to live and construct buildings in. However, by 1857 improved drainage systems and transportation made it more stable for developing neighborhoods. By the 1930s, more houses were built along the bayou. Yet, residents complained about unclean environment due to increased activity. As a result, congress ordered an end to all navigational on the bayou use by 1936.

Several historic homes remain with many late 19th century homes have been built in between these early architectural pieces, creating a peaceful and scenic streetscape. Architecture in the area consists of shotgun singles, raised cottages, and arts & crafts homes with a large number of houses that were originally doubles, but have since been converted to single family homes. Many New Orleans residents boast about the beautiful bayou view and the recreational activities that the waterway provides its visitors.

Today, the bayou is used as a meeting place for downtown Mardi Gras Indian tribes as they prepare their music, song, and dance during the parade’s festivities. The event is called “Super Sunday” and it’s not limited to the Mardi Gras season.

Landmarks:

  • The Pitot House —  The only historical Creole colonial home open to the public
  • Lafitte Greenway —  A beautiful parkway perfect for picnics
  • Bayou St. John —  Rent paddleboards, kayaks, and see wildlife on the shores of the historic Bayou
  • 900 Block of Moss Street —  A block of seven architectural marvels
  • Kayak-Iti-Yat tour —  Go on a kayak tour of the bayou’s twisting waterways

Restaurants:

The city wouldn’t exist without its humble beginnings and history in the Faubourg St. John neighborhood. To get to fully experience the decadent history of New Orleans, make sure you schedule an activity or a fun walking tour on your journey throughout the city!

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Bayou St. John