An absorbing piece by Katy Reckdahl about the demolition of the public housing.
As usual, Reckdahl has humanized a complex story and showed how community is the heartbeat of New Orleans. The story of the demolition of public housing since the Federal levee breaks is not about the need for “new” houses, but about the commercialization and gentrification of our neighborhoods in the hopes of attracting younger, white residents and excluding those people of color who live there now. Now that Iberville has now been turned over to the developers, it will severely restrict the ability of the workers of the Quarter to reach their jobs easily. I believe that the city has had the destruction of Iberville as one of their main goals for years and have finally desensitized most residents enough about developers greed to actually get it started now.
I am in agreement with many for the need to redesign the public housing to the streetscape by reducing the number and orientation of the buildings, but I cannot agree that removing almost all of the well-built brick townhouses for wood townhouses and making most “market rent” will help anyone but those developers. Regular people who have lived near and worked in the Quarter for generations will have to move away and many will look for jobs nearer to home. This destruction of good housing without the addition of jobs and supportive social services is emblematic of the inequality that government’s actions now often represent.
Maybe this administration that has been busy helping developers can add some public transportation choices for those workers to be able to get to their homes that will now be further away.
And beyond that, the fact that families and friends that will be broken up, never to be able to live within their community again must be remembered.
“On weekends too, he occasionally passes through the complex, to say hi to a friend’s mother or simply reconnect to home.
“If my life is a game of tag, it’s my base,” he said.”
Iberville demolition marks end of an era
Bob French, drummer, bandleader and radio host – a direct link to the very beginnings of jazz, has passed away. For those of us that had the pleasure of meeting him, we will remember that cantankerous New Orleanian always, with love and respect.
Mr. French, YOU kept the groove alive. Thank you.
Jazz drummer, popular WWOZ radio host Bob French dies | wwltv.com New Orleans.
Turns out the space that has been known since the 1800s as Congo Square is actually called Beauregard Square for a Confed general who also has a statue at the entrance of City Park and a house tour in the Quarter. Seems the name change in favor of the general came in 1893 which seems about right, knowing the revisionist history that went on in the South around that time and that it was the year of his death. From the T-P article: “According to widely accepted historical tradition, African-American slaves were allowed to gather on Sunday afternoons in an open field just outside the city, at a spot known by various names including Place Congo. The slaves and free people of color used this space to market goods, to socialize and to sing, make music and dance, maintaining their cultural heritage as well as social cohesion. White New Orleanians and visitors to the city would go there to witness African-American music and dance.”
Congo Square is within Louis Armstrong Park at the “end” of Saint Ann if you are leaving the Quarter. The park’s current condition is deplorable and maybe the name change for this most important history will spark some action for this public space to be a jewel rather than an locked up eyesore. (Can I suggest a tearing down of the fence to begin?)
Author of “Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans” Freddi Evans is appearing at Octavia Books and I am sure more signings to come to showcase her definitive history. I saw her speak at the TWLF this year and she is a delightful, gentle speaker with a firm grasp of her subject. Do yourself a favor and go hear her speak.
To order book
She will be at Octavia Tuesday at 6 pm.