Cultural Spotlight: New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

 

If you take a look into New Orleans’ charming past, you’ll find a bevy of historic haunts. From Preservation Hall to the famous Cafe Du Monde, important historic and cultural landmarks makeup a large part of the city’s presence.  

One site that hosts a significant part of the Big Easy’s history is the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, located in the French Quarter. Listed under the National Register of Historic Places, the museum offers an expansive collection of pharmacy and healthcare artifacts in Louisiana. Serving as a unique educational tool and reminder of NOLA’s rich role in United States medical history.

Let’s explore what the New Orleans Pharmacy has to offer:

History

Louis J. Dufilho, Jr. was America’s first licensed pharmacist. Contributing to the significance, reputation, and integrity in the field of pharmacy, he played an essential role in medical history. However, his most significant contributed occurred in 1816. Signed by Governor Claiborne in 1804, the state of Louisiana passed a law requiring that all pharmacists must take an examination for licensing to practice professionally. Previously, there were informal territory licensing measures that were not largely enforced. A person could apprentice as a pharmacist for 6 months and then make their own medicines and concoctions without any safety and standard practices or regulatory oversight. Often, the public received incorrect dosages or wrong and ineffective medications. However, the passage of the 1804 law established a board of credible pharmacists and physicians to administer three-hour oral examinations at the Cabildo in Jackson Square. As the first person to pass the licensing examination, Louis J. Dufilho, Jr.’s apothecary shop became the first pharmacy in the United States to operate on the basis of scientific adequacy. Today, the museum sits on the site of America’s first licensed apothecary.

Mission

To further the history and interest into New Orleans and the medical history of America at-large, the museum proudly promotes the development and education of pharmacology history for the general public since 1950. The museum holds over 3,000 artifacts and seeks to address the deep cultural understandings of medical issues at the time while helping visitors understand how pharmacology developed in New Orleans.

Exhibits

The museum, also called La Pharmacie Francaise, is located in a townhouse On the first floor, the museum showcases artifacts such as show globes, opium, perfumes, cosmetics, “gris gris” voodoo potions, patent instruments, surgical instruments, administrative methods, prescriptions and compounding, and insights into questionable medical practices of the time.

The second floor plays host to the unique living quarters and architecture of the building, local excavated medicine and voodoo bottles, and Dr. J. William Rosenthal’s spectacles collection. Among the museum’s most exotic findings, guests can see live leeches, pre-Civil War syringes, and cupping jars. Guests can also view what a physicians study and sick room looked like in the past.

Many of the exhibits show instruments that are deeply tied to the culture and folklore of New Orleans’ diverse cultural heritage. In addition, a historic courtyard displays plants and herbs that were, and still are, often used in medicines. A carriage house, and loggia help give more clarity into the everyday lifestyles of people who used this building.

Admission for the museum is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors/students. It’s also free for children under 6-years-old. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Located at 514 Charles St in New Orleans, all admission features a free 1 p.m. guided tour, except Saturdays. As one of the best museums in New Orleans, according to numerous travel sites, be sure to check out one of the most enchanting and introspective museums in NOLA’s cultural and historical landscape.

Advertisements
Cultural Spotlight: New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

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: St. Claude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

History

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

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

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

St. Claude Today

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

Landmarks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cafes, Restaurants and Bars:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: St. Claude

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Gert Town

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

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

History

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

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

Modern Day

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

Landmarks:

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

Restaurants:

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

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

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: Gert Town

New Orleans Neighborhood Series: 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: 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