Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
On the far, west end of Uptown sits a district known broadly as Riverbend, due to the the fact that it encompasses the territory that lies on the edge of where the river bends around the city in its journey northward. Riverbend is largely residential, with two prominent sub-districts of its own. The first of these is the part of Riverbend beyond the St. Charles Streetcar toward the river, and it includes the area in and around Audobon Park (named for the famed naturalist John James Audobon) and the Audobon Zoo.
The second is the area above the streetcar, which includes the neighboring campuses of Tulane and Loyola Universities. This area is often known as “University District,” for obvious reasons, and is also sometimes called Greenville. The area has affordable housing for struggling college students, though some areas of the neighborhood are rather shady. The Riverbend Shopping Center is a sizable riverside attraction, and one of the last along the river before one enters the suburb of Carrollton.
History: Carrollton was historically a separate town, laid out in 1833 and fully established around 1835. The New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad, which ferried commuters from Carrollton to New Orleans, was a significant contributor to the rapid growth of the area. Carrollton was incorporated by an act of the legislature in 1845, and was a fully independent city from New Orleans with its own municipal government. In 1853, the levee was built to protect Carrollton from the Mississippi River.
During the American Civil War, Carrollton soon fell under Union control. Soldiers in Carrollton were reportedly heavy whiskey drinkers. A young officer complained that “one-fifth of the regiment keeps drunk all the time.” The post commander permitted his men to drink because he thought that they “must have whisky or die of country fever.” General Benjamin F. Butler, the military governor of New Orleans, would issue orders from time to time forbidding the public sale of liquor. Butler’s brother, Andrew J. Butler, who held no official capacity, then petitioned his brother to lift the ban. Andrew Butler monopolized the liquor trade and brought cattle into the area from Texas and flour from the North.
Carrollton was annexed by the city of New Orleans in 1874, but it has long retained some elements of distinct identity. The post of “mayor of Carrollton” survived to the 1980s, although it was an informal one, representing the concerns of the neighborhood to the New Orleans city council. As of 2004, the United States Postal Service continues to deliver mail addressed to “Carrollton, Louisiana.”
Kindred History: Riverbend may not have been part of New Orleans until the late 19th century, but Vidal is long thought to have claimed the independent city as part of his praxis, much as he now claims the satellite cities of Metairie and Kenner. The Ventrue Dominique Toutain oversaw the parish as Regent until Hurricane Katrina, when she met Final Death. Vidal subsequently awarded the parish to his Sheriff, Donovan. The icy-tempered Toreador is rumored to keep a haven in Riverbend, but he is an often absent Regent and spends the majority of his time downtown, attending to his duties.
• Donovan (Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum, Camarilla Status ••••)
• None known
• Only several tenants with a more than passing scholastic interest are thought to reside in Riverbend. Kindred merely interested in feeding on the universities’ student bodies usually do not make their havens in the parish, which keeps the permanent Kindred population relatively small.
• In contrast to the low number of tenants, a great many more Kindred hold feeding rights in Riverbend. These are mostly neonates who look young enough to pass as college students, as the campuses and adjacent bars to Tulane and Loyal University are excellent hunting grounds.
Asking someone the boundaries of the Audubon neighborhood is not unlike asking a New Orleanian who makes the best gumbo. Everyone has a different opinion, but the city planning commission defines them as South Claiborne Avenue to the north, Jefferson Avenue to the east, the Mississippi River and Magazine Street to the south, and Lowerline Street to the west. The section of the neighborhood upriver from Audubon Park incorporates what was the town of Greenville, Louisiana until it was annexed to New Orleans in the 19th century; locals still sometimes call that area “Greenville”.
Home to both Tulane and Loyola universities, there’s a glut of student occupied (and expensive) property surrounding the universities, while adjacent streets are filled with some of the most premium real estate in the city. Audubon is also known as the University area of Uptown New Orleans. Foot traffic in the area from students, strollers, joggers and bikers is frequent. Parking is inconvenient for residents, since many of the homes don’t have off-street parking. Many lack driveways, and virtually none have garages. Homeowners frequently carry their groceries down the block.
Audubon is generally one of the safer sections of New Orleans. However criminals sometimes hunt for individuals with their guard down, especially late at night. Lone students wandering dark streets after too much to drink are particularly tempting targets, and more than one has wound up an unsolved missing person report.
• Fraternity Row
Although the University section is stately and refined, “Fraternity Row” along Broadway Street towards Claiborne Avenue tends to give it a slightly raucous flavor. House after house along Broadway has been renovated into fraternity quarters, and at Freret Street sits a cluster of businesses catering to the University communities.
• Jewish Cemetery
• Loyola University
Loyola University New Orleans is a private, co-educational and Jesuit university. Originally established as Loyola College in 1904, the institution was later chartered as a university in 1912. It bears the name of the Jesuit patron, Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Loyola is one of 28 member institutions that make up the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and, with its current enrollment of approximately 5000 students, is among the larger Jesuit universities in the southern United States.
Loyola is located in the historic Audubon Park District on St. Charles Avenue. Its original campus, now called the Main Campus, was founded on a tract of land purchased by the New Orleans Jesuits in 1889. The purchased portion of land was much larger than the current day campus; in fact, the original land purchase contained the land now occupied by both Loyola and Tulane Universities and Audubon Place. Through the next twenty years, portions of the original land purchase were sold to different entities to raise money for the new university, resulting in the current Main Campus area of 19 acres.
• Tulane University
Tulane University (officially The Tulane University of Louisiana or simply TU) is a private, nonsectarian research university. Founded as a public medical college in 1834, the school grew into a comprehensive university in 1847 and was eventually privatized under the endowments of Paul Tulane and Josephine Louise Newcomb in 1884. Tulane is a member of the Association of American Universities and the colloquial Southern Ivy League.
Tulane’s primary campus is located in Uptown New Orleans on St. Charles Avenue, directly opposite of Audubon Park, and extends north to South Claiborne Avenue through Freret and Willow Street. The campus is known colloquially as the Uptown or St. Charles campus. It was established in the 1890s and occupies more than 110 acres (0.45 km2) of land. The campus is known both for its large live oak trees as well as its architecturally historic buildings.
• Ursuline Academy
Ursuline Academy is a private, all-girls Catholic school for grades K-12 owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans and under the trusteeship of the Ursuline Sisters of the New Orleans Community. Founded in 1727, the Academy is the oldest continuously-operating school for girls, and the oldest Catholic school in the United States. It offered the first classes for female African-American slaves, free women of color, and Native Americans. Notable alumni include Theresa Capdevielle, the state’s lieutenant governor.
Named in honor of artist and naturalist John James Audubon, who began living in New Orleans in 1821, Audubon Park features sports fields and picnic facilities along the Mississippi River, in an area called Riverview Park. This riverside portion of the park is known colloquially as the Fly, an almost-forgotten reference to the modernist, butterfly-shaped river viewing shelter constructed in the 1960s and demolished in the 1980s in the aftermath of its severe damage one foggy morning at the hands of blundering river traffic.
Part of the Audubon Nature Institute which also manages the Aquarium of the Americas. The zoo covers 58 acres (230,000 m²) and is home to 2,000 animals. The zoo is located in a section of Audubon Park in Uptown New Orleans, on the Mississippi River side of Magazine Street. The zoo and park are named in honor of artist and naturalist John James Audubon who lived in New Orleans starting in 1821. Some of the exhibits at the zoo include gorillas, orangutans, and the Louisiana swamp exhibit. The zoo is also home to two rare White tigers and rare white alligators.
• Cascade Stables
Cascade Stables is an equestrian facility that has provided horse-riding lessons to the greater New Orleans area since 1981. In 2006, it opened its current riding facility in Audubon Park. Older Kindred and ghouls of an equestrian bent are known to sometimes go riding at the stables.
• The Fly
Tucked behind Audubon Zoo across the Mississippi River levee, this waterfront portion of Audubon Park is a popular spot to relax and take a breath from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans. Known to locals as ‘The Fly’, people visit to socialize, toss a frisbee, have a crawfish boil, barbecue, or watch the sun go down over the river.
• The Labyrinth
The Labyrinth’s name would be more accurate as “the Labyrinths”, for there are in fact two. The round, flat, and wall-less stone edifices are connected to one another by a brick path that begins with an entrance through a wrought iron trellis. The closer labyrinth is smaller and winds its way to a larger one surrounded by benches and Southern live oaks. A metal plaque located by the brick path explains,
“The Labyrinth is a symbol of hope and renewal offered to the City of New Orleans following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. As our community rebuilds, so also, our citizens must rebuild their souls.”
“The labyrinth is an ancient tool which provides a sacred place for meditation, centering, and healing. At the entrance is a small Labyrinth known as the Classic Seventh Circuit. This pattern dates to 2000 B.C. The large Labyrinth is a replica from the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France, built in 1203 A.D. It has eleven circuits leading to the center.”
“All people and all cultures are invited to journey along the labyrinth. There is no right or wrong way to walk a Labyrinth. There are no tricks or decisions, just follow the single path, one foot in front of the other, until you reach the center. Return along that same path.”
“A Labyrinth is a walking meditation. As in life, you will encounter many turns. Trust the path. May this become a place for transformation that honors hope and celebrates new beginnings.”
A dedication list of names follows.
• The Tree of Life
One of Audubon Park’s main attractions, the Tree of Life is a gnarled Southern live oak that resembles nothing so much as a twisted wooden knot with foliage hanging off of it. It abuts the Audubon Zoo’s giraffe cage and allows enterprising climbers to watch the long-necked animals over the wall. Weddings are hosted under the tree’s boughs on a semi-regular basis.
Audubon Place is a private street and exclusive gated community along St. Charles Avenue and adjacent to Tulane University. Homes in the neighborhood typically cost in excess of $5 million. A guardhouse sits at the entrance to the street, with entrance restricted to those on a pre-approved list. Security is provided by the private military company Blackwater.
• Caroline’s former home
• Donovan’s home
• The Zemurray Mansion
The president of Tulane University lives in this mansion donated to the university by Sam “The Banana Man” Zemurray, one-time head of United Fruit, predecessor to today’s Chiquita. The company is most infamous for its role in the United States 1954 overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically elected government, but it has been involved in a number of other incidents, from the 1928 “Banana massacre” that saw as many as 2,000 Colombian workers killed for striking, to its present-day funding of right-wing Colombian paramilitary groups that butcher peasants, unionists, indigenous people, human rights workers, teachers and left-wing political activists. Zemurray himself reigned over his banana-built empire from 1899 to 1961 before dying in the mansion that he willed to Tulane University.
Black Pearl, so named in 1974 by city planners, is a sort of microcosm of New Orleans. Driving through it, one notices that Black Pearl has some surprisingly varied and interesting architecture for such a small triangle of land. The recently developed Uptown Square area provides several new community assets to the neighborhood. In fact, people have recently begun to call this neighborhood Uptown Triangle. One resident, Richard McCarthy, had this to say about life in Black Pearl:
“There is a lot of long term stability in the neighborhood. There are clearly defined boundaries so there are not many people roaming through the neighborhood. It’s really quiet. Except for the boats and trains, which I really love hearing. I love being near the river. And it doesn’t flood here. It’s diverse. Definitely a microcosm of New Orleans.”
Many large homes and apartment buildings line the St. Charles Ave. border of Black Pearl. Moving from St. Charles toward the river, one continues to see a number of large and elaborate structures, including one geodesic dome-shaped house. The streets closest to the river are classic New Orleans: shotgun houses interspersed with corner stores and churches. This part of Black Pearl has been fertile ground for New Orleans’ indigenous musical talent. Mahalia Jackson – who’s gospel singing introduced Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C – used to sing at Mount Moriah Baptist Church on Millaudon St. in Black Pearl.
Black Pearl was sparsely populated until after New Orleans fell to Union troops early in the Civil War. The neighborhood historically was inhabited by both domestic workers and the affluent families for whom they worked.
On the Uptown side of Carrollton Avenue, stretching from St. Charles Avenue to Spruce Street, the East Carrollton New Orleans neighborhood is filled with narrow streets, raised cottages, townhouse style architecture, and a few touches of art deco here and there.
A walkable neighborhood, the St. Charles streetcar line runs along two sides of the area. Just a few blocks from Tulane University, it’s a popular spot for both students and professors, with a mix of owner occupied and rental units spread throughout.
• Babylon Café
Located on Maple Street, Babylon Café offers a variety of Middle Eastern cuisine in a relaxed, neighborhood cafe setting. The café prides itself for using only the freshest ingredients, from hand-rolled grape leaves to hand-made stuffed kibby. On-duty cops started frequenting the café after 9/11, allegedly due to the delicious menu, but have since stayed, allegedly due to ‘security concerns’.
Named for the famous Spartan king, Leonidas incorporates the upper-river half of what had been the town of Carrollton, Louisiana, in the 19th century. Although an official city planning district name, the name “Leonidas” is not widely used nor has it any historical usage. The area is commonly known to locals simply as “Carrollton”, or to distinguish this section, “Upper Carrollton” or “West Carrollton”. The portion closer to the river is often called the “Riverbend” or “Carrollton Riverbend,” while the section closer to the Jefferson Parish line has been informally known as “Pigeon Town/Pension Town” for generations.
The neighborhood’s history dates back to the 1700s. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, a French colonizer and the founder of the city, began a plantation in the area circa 1719. The land went on to remain a plantation for different types of agriculture well into the 1800s. The area was then bought by the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company and was divided into sections. In 1835, the first house was built and a new neighborhood soon emerged in the town of Carrollton. Half a century later, the town and Leonidas neighborhood were annexed into New Orleans.
Today the area thrives on its commercial businesses and also includes a large residential community. A part of the Uptown/Carrollton area that escaped serious Katrina-related damage, the Oak Street commercial corridor has been gentrifying since 2005. Previously, the area suffered from frequent killings, drug usage, and gunfire reports. Although these have declined in recent years, street crimes and break-in offenses have been increasing, leading the neighborhood to install dozens of HD crime cameras.
• The Bower
The undisputedly upscale bar and restaurant located on Oak Street, the Bower serves exquisitely delicious (and costly) wines, cocktails, and tapas-style dishes exclusively created for the Bower by acclaimed chef Francois Burgau of Patois. Inspired by international flavors then refined for a New Orleans palate, its small-dish menu (e.g., deliciously crispy, fresh cut French fries adorned with curled, wispy shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and roasted garlic butter; beautifully rare hanger steak bruschetta with hunks of blue cheese and a tangy, sweet red onion marmalade) has been described as “sophisticated without being fussy.” The Bower’s vast wine cellar houses an impressive selection of varietals, including dozens of wines by the glass and nearly a hundred hand-selected bottles. No less renown are the bar’s signature cocktails, which includes the likes of a Jean Lafitte, made with New Orleans spiced rum, applce cider, and Peychaud bitters; Stormy Weather, made with rum, ginger beer, and lime; and a Josephine Baker, which features Van Gogh banana and chocolate-flavored vodka. True to its namesake, the Bower is located under the shade of soaring, spiraling live oaks. Inside, its unfinished cement floor, huge marble-toped bar, and towering ceilings ensure a similarly cool sanctuary from the sultry Louisiana clime. A stage hosts local musical talents, including live jazz, acoustic folk, and R&B performances, a mélange that allegedly provides an “atmosphere that is always cosmopolitan but never pretentious.”
• Maple Leaf
Far off the well-beaten path of the French Quarter and its musically-lauded Bourbon Street, Oak Street in Riverside has the surprising distinction of hosting the longest operating music club in New Orleans. The Maple Leaf features amazing music on a nightly basis, with the Rebirth Brass Band taking the stage every Tuesday night for a mind-blowing set. For starving musicians (and audiences) looking to eat rather than play, the club also offers decently affordable while still delectable dishes and drinks.
• Yvonne LaFleur