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: 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: 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: Central Business District

Photo by Antrell Williams/Flickr

The Central Business District (CBD) is a major center for commerce, economics, and business in its downtown hub of perpetual activity. The neighborhood also acts as the central seat of government in New Orleans. Considered by some to be a subdistrict of the French Quarter, its boundaries are bordered by Iberville, Canal, and Decatur Streets to its north and the Mississippi River to its east. Major sites like the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Magazine Street, and the Pontchartrain Expressway consolidate its boundaries to the south. In addition, South Claiborne Avenue, Cleveland, and Derbigny Streets shelter its western borders.

Today, the neighborhood is a dynamic part of everyday New Orleans life.  comprising skyscrapers, professional offices, neighborhood and boutique retails stores, and various restaurants and clubs. Many residents inhabit restored and historic commercial properties.

History

The neighborhood was originally developed as a residential hub called Faubourg Ste. Marie or the St. Mary Suburb in the 18th century. It’s plated streets were the first signs of expansion beyond the original French Quarter district. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, major investments began developing in the neighborhood as numerous people from the United States flocked to New Orleans giving the district the nickname, “The American Sector”. While Canal Street was the original dividing line between the traditional St. Mary district and the French Quarter, Canal Street is legally considered to be a part of both neighborhoods today. Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, the Central Business District progressed upon developments without any pause. By the middle of the 1900s, the majority of professional offices in the city were located downtown, distinguishing the neighborhood as a well-developed, central business hub with accessible public transit systems.

Canal Street was a major retail hotspot for locals and residents in surrounding regions. Local and regional department stores included  Maison Blanche, Gus Mayer, Godchaux’s, D.H. Holmes, Krauss, and Kreeger’s served as the major outlets for popular retailers at the time including Adler’s Jewelry, Rubenstein Bros., and Werlein’s Music. Theaters and bookstores decorated the streets with neon marquees and multi-colored lights. Famous spots included the Saenger, RKO Orpheum, Joy, Loews State, and Civic theaters.

Further developments continued into the 1950s-1960s. A six-lane Loyola Avenue was constructed as part of the Elk Place extension, cutting through low-income residential areas and originally housing the city’s new civic center complex. In the late 1960s, Poydras Street was widened to create another six-lane central area circulator for traffic and to accommodate high-rise constructions. From 1973 to 1993, the City of New Orleans underwent renovations with public and private sector to spark more community participation. Today, luxury properties such as FourWindsNOLA and Four Seasons Hotel have helped to bring more development, security, and appeal to the district.

Close to the Mississippi River holds The Warehouse District which was heavily home to many warehouses and manufacturing buildings before the advent of containerized shipping. During the 1984 World’s Fair, the area drew renewed interest in the somewhat derelict district. As a result, heavy redevelopment began in the area. Many of the old warehouses have now been converted to boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, condos, and art galleries. As a local or visitor to New Orleans, the CBD is a must-see spot where much of the action and attractions lie.

Landmarks:

Museums/Attractions:

Luckily, much of the business district escaped major destruction during Hurricane Katrina as it lies on higher ground. The bustling center, home to the best of art, culture, and everyday business is a great way to preserve the memories of the past and the forward direction that New Orleans has been making the past decade.

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Central Business District

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 Neighborhoods Series: Central City

A map of the Central City district in New Orleans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood plays an important part in the cultural traditions of the Big Easy. Predominantly an African American community, its history of brass musicianship and Mardi Gras Indian traditions distinguish it from other districts in NOLA.

Located in the lower section of Uptown and above the New Orleans Central Business District, it sits on the lakeside of St. Charles Avenue. Its boundaries include MLK Boulevard, the Pontchartrain Expressway to the north and other major streets to the south and west.

Continuing our fixation on New Orleans history and culture, let’s explore the history and landmarks of New Orleans’ Central City district:

History

The neighborhood first developed in the early 1800s near Saint Charles Avenue. The opening of the New Orleans & Carrollton Railway and the New Basin Canal in the lower end helped attract commerce and Irish, Italian, and German immigrants and working class residents to the area. In the 1830s, Dryades Street became a commercial district and in 1849, the Dryades Market was built and served as a communal center point for nearly 100 years. After the American Civil War, many African Americans from rural towns settled in the neighborhood. By the 1870s, the urban area had grown to Claiborne Avenue. During the early 1900s, commercial activity helped make it the largest New Orleans neighborhood patronized by African American residents during the Jim Crow era. It also became the main hub for the Uptown African American community. During the district’s heyday after WWII, it housed over 200 business.

However, the area started to decline in the late 1960s. Throughout the 1980s the area’s economy slowly declined and depreciation peaked by 1990 with many vacant lots and buildings. However, by the beginning of the 2000s, community projects started to help revitalize the area. After Hurricane Katrina, Central City was recognized for its plot of high, dry ground. Today, post-Katrina redevelopment efforts focus on the area and the revitalization of old public housing from the 1940s (during segregation).

The Civil Rights Movement is a significant portion of Central City’s history. In 1957, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded with Martin Luther King in the neighborhood. In addition, a major boycott of Dryades Street occurred to protest segregation in the 1960s. The neighborhood is also where the Congress of Racial Equality was founded.

Landmarks

Central City is a National Register Historic District and is home to several landmarked buildings. Here are some neighborhood businesses and sights to check out:

  • Brown’s Dairy
  • Leidenheimer Bakery
  • Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard — Central City’s National Accredited Main Street
  • Cafe Reconcile
  • Commercial streets: St Charles Ave., S. Claiborne Ave., and LaSalle/Simon Bolivar

Central City offers an exceptional opportunity to be surrounded by profound civil rights history. Acknowledging the impact the neighborhood has had on Southern and national history makes it a noteworthy addition to New Orleans.

New Orleans Neighborhoods Series: Central City