City StoriesLouisiana

New Orleans, LA

New Orleans Ghetto Story

The “Big Easy” or the “Crescent City”, the New Orleans ghetto and urban community cannot be compared to any city in the country, with the city being largely known for the creole culture, Cajun food, and a lifestyle that is rarely seen.

In the communities of the New Orleans ghetto, there is more history in its streets, than in entire cities.

Places like Storyville, the city’s old red-light district, the Backatown section of the city, the infamous 3rd Ward or the historic Treme, just to name a few.

Not until desegregation of the early 1960s, did the New Orleans black population slowly become the majority in the city.

Generations later, long after all of the African-American areas became established, the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina widely affected New Orleans, causing a change in most of its communities.

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New Orleans Ghetto Story: Downtown

Downtown New Orleans was once the home of the old St. Bernard, Iberville, Lafitte, Desire, and Florida housing projects, together with blocks from the 4th to 9th Wards.

Originally most of the neighborhoods were segregated with some being strictly built for either white families or black families.

new orleans black history

Old photo of the 9th Ward. Courtesy of Marion Doss/Flickr

The all-white housing projects eventually became predominantly black and soon after many began to have several problems, which led to the beginning of the demolishing of the New Orleans housing projects by the late 1990s.

Today’s new developments are Columbia Parc (St. Bernard of the 7th Ward), Faubourg Lafitte (Lafitte of the 6th Ward), The Estates (Desire of the 9th Ward), Florida (Florida of the 9th Ward), and soon to be Iberville.

The other areas of the Downtown section is the 5th Ward, 6th Ward and the historic black community of Treme, 7th Ward, 8th Ward, and the 9th Ward that is separated with Upper 9th Ward and Cross The Canal being the Lower 9th Ward.

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New Orleans Ghetto Story: Uptown

Maybe New Orleans’ most famous neighborhood, the 3rd Ward was one of the first areas that blacks lived at in the Uptown section of New Orleans.

At one point, the 3rd Ward was home to most of the city’s housing projects, especially after New Orleans began to demolish and closed many of its older housing projects.

Communities like the BW Cooper, known as the Calliope, Melpomeme, officially called Guste Homes, and the Magnolia (CJ Peete), were built between the 1940s and the 1960s.

new orleans ghetto

Former site of the Magnolia. Courtesy of Derek Bridges

With the rebuilding of many of New Orleans communities, the Magnolia became the new Harmony Oaks community, the Calliope is becoming the Marrero Commons, and the area of the old Melpomeme project is also being redeveloped.

Outside of the 3rd Ward projects, there are neighborhoods like Mid-City, Josephine Street, Parkway, 3NG (Third and Galvez), and other blocks throughout the area of the 3rd Ward.

Courtesy of Infrogmation of New Orleans

In other New Orleans Uptown wards, the 10th Ward was home to the old and rebuilt St. Thomas development, the 17th Ward’s Pigeon Town (P Town), Hollygrove, Gert Town, and N***a Town, and between the 17th and 3rd wards there is the 12th Ward and the Valence and Magnolia area of the 13th ward, as well as small parts of Uptown off Tchoupitoulas Street.

New Orleans Ghetto Story: NO East

New Orleans East was one of the last sections in the city of New Orleans to be built, as white flight from the older neighborhoods of New Orleans led people to move into the newer homes and apartment complexes of the Eastern New Orleans community.

One key factor that helped N.O. East to grow was the building of Interstate 10, which helped transportation from the isolated area to the downtown and other business areas of New Orleans.

New Orleans East was once a mostly middle-class white community until African-Americans gained most of the power in the local government, during the late 1970s, which helped families to leave the city and relocate into other parishes (counties), making New Orleans East to become predominantly black by the 1990s.^

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New Orleans Ghetto Story: West Bank

Like Eastern New Orleans, the West Bank and Jefferson Parrish became a community during the middle part of the 1900s, as people were leaving the city of New Orleans.

But as people again relocated, the community of Jefferson Parrish started to change when many black families moved into the West Bank neighborhoods, outside of the already small black communities that had already been around.

After Hurricane Katrina, the black community of the West Bank became even larger as many were displaced from their original communities in Orleans Parrish.

new orleans ghetto

Courtesy of  Infrogmation of New Orleans

The West Bank communities include, the 15th Ward and Algeris, which is the old home of the Fischer Projects and the Christopher Homes, Gretna around Franklin Avenue, Terry Town from Whitney Avenue to Behrman Highway, Harvey in an area south of the expressway, Woodmere, most of Marrero, Westwego/Bridge City, and Kennedy Heights.

New Orleans Ghetto Story: New Orleans of Today

Gentrification, with people buying houses in the heart of the city of New Orleans and fixing them up and marking them at a price where it is unaffordable to most of the original residents, is helping the black population of the West Bank to expand.

With most of the housing projects rebuilt with less than half of the original number of units being replaced, together with gentrification, the West Bank and NO East seems to be the future and the next chapter of the New Orleans ghetto story.

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Check out more of the communities in Louisiana.

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

**All images provided by Infrogmation of New Orleans.

^Campanella, Richard. “Addressing New Orleans East’s core problem“. Nola.com. 10 Dec. 2013. /  Ruffin, Maurice. “New Orleans East“. New Orleans.me.