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New Orleans/Lower 9th Ward

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"Steamboat Houses" in the Lower 9th Ward

The Lower 9th Ward is a section of New Orleans, east of the Bywater neighborhood (from which it is separated by the Industrial Canal) and Chalmette.

Understand

This neighborhood of predominently African American working class homeowners became tragically famous when it was smashed by floodwaters with the catastrophic failure of the Federal levees during Hurricane Katrina.

5 years later, a few businesses have reopened, and a fraction of the population are back (some still "temporary" trailers while they work to rebuild their homes), but large sections of the area are still either seriously damaged or simply empty lots where rows of houses once stood.

See

  • Scenes of devastation. Those who wish to see the worst of the destruction can drive around pretty much anywhere north of Claiborne Avenue, but "ground zero" is along Jourdan Avenue north of Claiborne, the site of the major levee breaches. The levees and floodwalls have been rebuilt, the giant barge which landed in the neighborhood has been dismantled, thousands of truckloads of debris have been hauled away, and the vast majority of the thousands of the smashed houses demolished -- but the scope of the destruction is still astonishing.

While at first some returned locals resented the thought of being peered at by tourists, at least as many will say the whole world needs to see what happened here and be aware of these Americans' continuing struggle to reclaim their lives. With time the second view has largely prevailed. If you decide to visit the Lower 9th, do so with respect. If your life is better than that of the people living here, make a donation to the Common Ground Collective "Blue House" neighborhood center at 1700 Deslonde St [1].

  • Those wishing to drive by the house of music legend Fats Domino will see it on Caffin Avenue between St. Claude and Claiborne; you can't miss the large letters "F D" on the front.
  • Steamboat houses on Egania Street at the Mississippi River. A visitor attraction long before Katrina, these over-the-top ornate Victorian wooden houses in steamboat-baroque style are on the high ground of the least affected portion of the Lower 9th (with only a few feet of floodwaters for a few days, as opposed to over the rooftops then 10 feet of standing water for weeks in most of the Lower 9th). Take a look at the exterior of these houses, then walk up to the top of the levee for a striking view of central New Orleans around a bend of the Mississippi.

Do

  • Sankofa Marketplace [2]. Monthly market with farm fresh produce, prepared food, crafts, music, and other events. 2nd Saturday of each month, 10a-3p at corner of St. Claude Avenue and Caffin Street.
  • House of Dance and Feathers [3]. 1317 Tupelo Street. Small museum dedicated to local Mardi Gras Indians and Second Line culture. Curator Ronald W. Lewis has interesting stories. Open by appointment only. Tel. 957-2678
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