Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Different ways to think about New Orleans

If you are new to New Orleans - or even if you are not - you will hear terms used to describe different parts of the city that may be unfamiliar or unclear to you. This phenomenon is not unique to New Orleans. But it is worth looking at some of the parallels and differences when it comes to orienting yourself in the city and understanding its geography.

Below you will find a collection of maps that will define the urban space of New Orleans in different but not necessarily mutually exclusive terms.

The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center probably has the most exhaustive, precise, and up-to-date neighborhood map available (as well as other demographic data.) Many of these boundaries, however, are relatively recent creations. In some instances, the City of New Orleans government made up neighborhood names to define areas that traditionally had ill-defined boundaries.

For many years, and in parlance more common in certain social and economic circles and neighborhoods, the political boundary of wards mattered the most. Compare this map with the one above.

Compare these conceptions of neighborhood with this interactive map from the Preservation Resource Center (and note the tab for architectural styles.)

From the roof of Loyola's West Road Deck - Shot with a superzoom so everything is a little flattened!

1. Plaza Tower (1969) 1001 Howard Avenue. Close to what was once the terminus of the New Basin Canal (completed in 1838), which is located across the street roughly where the Greyhound and Amtrak terminal stands today.
2. One Shell Square (1972) 701 Poydras. Tallest building in New Orleans. Was the tallest building in the South until the building of the Atlanta Peachtree Westin in 1976.
3. St. Patrick's Church (1838-1840) 724 Camp Street. Church of the "old Irish" in New Orleans from before the potato famine.
4. St. John the Baptist Church (1869-1871) Calliope and Oretha Castle Haley Drive. Another German and Irish Church. The area is not the greatest today.
5. World Trade Center (1967) At the foot of Canal Street at the river. A matter of debate as to what it will become. Like the Plaza Tower, it is empty.
6. Hilton Riverside (1979) 3 Poydras - the foot of Poydras and the river. Once the site of the Poydras Market from the 1830s to the 1930s - which was a bit like the French Market... when the French Market was a real market.
7. Guste Apartments (1964) Simon Bolivar and MLK (formerly Melpomene). Once the site of the infamous Melpomene housing project. Designed in 1964 as government housing for elderly.
8. Union Bethel A.M.E. Church (Founded 1866) 2321 Thalia Street. Martin Luther King spoke here during his 1961 visit to New Orleans.
9. Ochsner Baptist - Napoleon & Claiborne Avenues.

Towards the Crescent City Connection from the West Road Deck roof.

1. First Street United Methodist Church (1894) - On the site of a much older church established for slaves and free people of color. Established own congregation in 1866.
2. Ernest Morial Convention Center
3. Crescent City Connection
4. The Pontchartrain Hotel (see below).
5. 2633 Napoleon Avenue (office tower). Located near Ochsner Baptist.
6. All Nation's Fellowship Evangelical Christian Church. 2524 Napoleon Ave. (Formerly Napoleon Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church - built in the 1920s)

Looking toward the Power Plant from the West Road Deck.
1. Old Power Plant (on the river) Most recently the site of Buku fest.
2. St Mary's Assumption (1858) 2030 Constance St. Old German Catholic Redemptorist Church (next door to St. Alphonsus). Located in the heart of the old Irish Channel neighborhood. Note, St. Alphonsus has an event on March 11 which would count as an enrichment activity.
3. Domino Sugar Refinery - next to the Chalmette Battlefield - in the great hazy distance in St. Bernard Parish.
4. Trinity Episcopal Church (1853-1866) Jackson Avenue and Coliseum Street.
5. The Carol Condominiums (1970s) 2100 St. Charles Avenue.
6. The Pontchartrain Hotel (1927) 2031 St. Charles Avenue. Once the stop of the rich and famous. Fell down on its heels for a while. Big ideas about reviving it today.
7. Our Lady of Lourdes (1905) Temporarily Holy Rosary Academy High School. Damaged in Katrina and sold.

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