Historic St. Augustine Church
Tremé (pronounced "Treh-MAY"; historically Faubourg Tremé) is an old historically African-American and Créole neighborhood of New Orleans, just "back" (away from the Mississippi River) from the French Quarter.
The Tremé is famous for its music, and has some attractions, music venues, and small inexpensive hotels.
The neighborhood has a rich Créole and African American history, as one of the oldest such districts in the country.
Like most downtown inner-city New Orleans neighborhoods during the late 1800s through the early 1900s, it was integrated with French Créoles; not by White Americans. Present day Tremé is still integrated and its residents are still mostly Créole and African American, the homes are valued between $150,000.00 and $700,000.00. Residents of Tremé are working professionals, artists, musicians, community leaders, entrepreneurs and activists. There is much pride associated with having a Tremé address.
A car is quite a good way to make your way around the Tremé if you intend to venture any further than the cemetery, Louis Armstrong Park, and the few sights just east of the park—getting to the specific restaurants is a pain without one, and it's not the safest part of town after dark to hang out waiting for buses or take long walks. Even for most of the B&Bs, having a car is going to be a big help. Parking is in ample supply.
Bus 91 is a handy route if you are staying on the Esplanade, as it will take you down Esplanade to the border of the Quarter on Rampart, and on to the CBD. Weekends see pretty limited service, only every hour from 6AM to around 10PM, but on weekdays it's every half hour from 6AM-11PM. Buses 57 and 88 also run from the CBD along Rampart, with the ever handy route 88 going east to Marigny, Bywater, and on the the Lower 9th Ward, and 57 going to Marigny and then up all the way on to the University of New Orleans.
Buses 51,52,62, and 64 all run through the center of the Tremé along Claiborne to the Canal St in the west, and then the length of I-10 throughout central New Orleans to the east.
Bus 84 is a handy and relatively frequent (by New Orleans standards) bus running the full length of Broad St through Midtown
Taxis work great on the way in, but getting one on the way out can be tough. The best bet is to call United Cab at ? +1 504 522-9771 to schedule a pick up.
- Backstreet Museum, 1116 Henriette Delille Street (St. Claude Street was renamed Henriette Delille Street in 2011; 1 block back from Rampart Street across from St. Augustine Church), ☎ +1 504 522-4806, . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM. Costumes of "Mardi Gras Indians" and other artifacts of Tremé culture. An easy walk a block and a half from the French Quarter; well worth the $8 admission fee not only for the displays but also for fascinating narration about local culture by the neighborhood curators. $8.
- Basin Street Station, 501 Basin St, ☎ +1 504 293-2600, . 9AM-5PM. The old Southern Railway train station has been remodeled; the ground floor has a visitors information center with gift shop, informative film and local museum exhibits free of charge.
- Louis Armstrong Park. Includes historic Congo Square, and statues of early jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, and Buddy Bolden. As of late 2011, much of the park are is still usually closed except when events are held in the park. Within Armstrong Park are 3 important buildings:
- Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, 801 N Rampart St, ☎ +1 504 525-1052, . This is one of the largest performance venues in the city, and is frequently used by the Louisiana Symphony Orchestra and for large scale dance performances and musicals. The official address is listed as 801 N Rampart St, but it is actually located away from Rampart towards the back of the park.
- Municipal Auditorium, 1201 Saint Peter St, ☎ +1 504 218-0150. Old neoclassical stone auditorium from c. 1930. (Still closed from Katrina flood damage as of early 2012.)
- Perseverance Hall #3, 950 St Claude Ave, ☎ +1 504 589-4841, . At the Saint Claude entrance to the park, is an old 19th century dance hall, usually vacant, but sometimes used for music, exhibits, and other events.
- New Orleans African American Museum, 1418 Governor Nicholls St, ☎ +1 504 566-1136, . W-Sa 11AM-4PM. Call ahead to make sure they'll be open. $7.
- Saint Augustine Church, 1210 Governor Nicholls St (at corner of Henriette Delille Street, formerly St. Claude Street), ☎ +1 504 525-5934, . This famous church founded at the start of the nineteenth century by "free people of color" is famous in local African-American history. Shortly after it opened in 1842, the church quickly became the most integrated church in the country, and for an odd reason. Free blacks were buying pews to reserve for their families. White families, upon hearing of this, did not want to be outdone, and began buying up their own pews. In this racial race, the black congregants won decisively, outpurchasing white families by a three to one ratio, and gave away the extra pews to slaves—but once all the families had plunked down the money, they were certainly going to stay in the now integrated church! For a more in-depth visit, you can call ahead to request a tour.
- Saint Louis Cemetery #1, 451 Basin St (Basin Street between St. Louis and Conti Streets, 2 block walk from the French Quarter). M-F 9AM-3PM, Sa-Su 9AM-noon. Local notables entombed here include 19th century Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Do not visit this cemetery alone, as criminals have been known to target vulnerable individual tourists. It can safely be visited with tour groups; free ones are given by the park service (visitor Center: 419 Decatur St, ? +1 504 589-2636, ) in addition to various pay tours. Almost all tours start early in the morning, although a couple pay tours will start at 1PM during weekdays. Free.
- Tour Tremé, 834 N. Rampart St (Tour meets at Mike's On The Park in the French Quarter), ☎ +1 504 666-8300, . 1PM during the winter months and 10AM in the summer. Walking Tour of Tremé. Explore this vibrant neighborhood with an informative and entertaining, licensed guide. See where Jazz was born. Visit the most important laundrymat in Rock and Roll history. View film locations from HBO's Treme'. Treme' is the heart and soul of New Orleans. Reservations Required. $22.
- Mardi Gras Henriette Delille Street (formerly St. Claude Street) in front of the Backstreet Cultural Museum (see above) is a popular gathering place during New Orleans Mardi Gras -- on Lundi Gras ("Fat Monday", the day before Mardi Gras Day) the "Red Beans & Rice Parade", and on Mardi Gras Day brass bands, troupes of Mardi Gras Indians, and various costumed revelers make a stop here.
- Candlelight Lounge, 925 N Robertson St, ☎ +1 504 571-1021. 8PM-very late. This is one of New Orleans' truly great neighborhood bars/jazz clubs. The famous Tremé Brass Band play here virtually every Wednesday, and it's quite the party! Any night with live music will be great here, though, and there are fewer non-locals when it's not Wednesday. Ignore people who tell you the neighborhood is not safe (taxi drivers) and go roll with the good times.
- Kermit's Treme Speakeasy 1535 Basin St (just over a block riverwards of Claiborne Avenue) Local trumpeter bandleader plays at here at his own place Sunday and Monday evenings, 6pm. (He can sometimes be found cooking great New Orleans soul food other times as well). Jazz jam sessions Thursday evenings.
- Zulu Memorabilia Club Shop, 732 N Broad St, . Zulu is arguably the most famous krewe at Mardi Gras. Zulu's fame stems both from their 100 year long history, with origins as a satire of white parades during segregation, and for the prized "golden nuggets" (painted coconuts) that they throw to paradegoers. While the Krewe finds its headquarters in this building, the Zulu Memorabilia Club Shop has yet to open—but it will indubitably be cool.
- Cafe Treme, 1501 Saint Philip Street (at corner of N. Villere), ☎ +1 504 264.1132, . M-F 7AM-7P; Sat 9A-5P. Coffee, tea, pastries & snacks.
- Dooky Chase, 2301 Orleans Ave, ☎ +1 504 821-0600. Tu-F 11:30AM-10PM. Dooky Chase is right up there with Willy May's below, vying for the status of most famous Soul food restaurant in the city. The chicken, unsurprisingly, is a star on the menu, but for something more interesting, try the shrimp Clemenceau. Dooky Chase has fallen on tough times following Katrina, when the owners were forced to live in a FEMA trailer, and the opening times reflect the difficulty of getting the business going again in a now depopulated neighborhood. Call ahead, since their hours are as unpredictable as the rain--they might be open when you don't expect, or closed during regular hours. $12-25.
- Lil Dizzy's, 1500 Esplanade Ave, ☎ +1 504 569-8997. Breakfast and lunch Tues-Sat. Another Creole soul food restaurant in the neighborhood (surprise surprise!), run by members of the Baquet family, locally famous for great chefs and jazz musicians for generations. Since Dooky Chase and Willie Mae's are closed for breakfast, this is undisputedly the best place to go.
- Roosevelt's Black Pearl, 1001 N Claiborne Ave, ☎ +1 504 827-5770. This is one high quality, locally (Tremé) renowned soul food cafeteria. So expect big portions of mac 'n cheese, collard greens, fried chicken, turkey necks, corn bread, a casual community vibe, low prices, and bare-bones atmosphere (we're talking a rundown little shack). $3-9.
- Willie Mae's, 2401 Saint Ann St, ☎ +1 504 822-9503. M-Sa 11AM-3PM. The sign above the front door says "Willie Mae's Restaurant", but everyone calls it "Willie Mae's Scotch House" — no, not Scotch food; the name is from when the place started out as a bar generations ago, specializing in a drink made with milk and scotch. No booze served now; just a limited delicious menu of fried chicken or smothered pork chops with sides such as red beans, butter beans, or french fries. They are so well loved that chefs and food fans from near and far chipped in to help them rebuild and reopen after this family owned restaurant flooded in the Katrina disaster of 2005. Lunch Mon-Sat, no reservations, cash only. Drive or take a cab to and from here. $12-25.
- Wing Shack, 759 N Claiborne Ave, ☎ +1 504 827-0602. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F-Sa 11AM-5AM. The name sums it up well, although its misspelled all over the place as "Wing Snack"--the sign, the menu--the owner hasn't bothered to change it back, and it's not like that's a bad name either. Wings here are served dry, which means they can't disguise bad wings under loads of sauce, which in turn means that they do them well. They have about 100 flavors of wings, fries come in heaping portions, and the can't miss item is the Ghetto Punch. If you get skittish in cities, stay away, as this is under I-10 a block from the Iberville housing projects. $3-8.
Candlelight Lounge and Kermit's Speakeasy; see above at "Live Music". Drinks served even when there isn't live music going on.
The historic Esplanade Ave corridor is lined with beautiful mansions, several of which house beautiful bed and breakfasts (and plenty of others which still lie sadly in disrepair post-Katrina). They are some of the highest rated inns (by guests) in the city, and you are likely to have a great time there. But be aware that the Esplanade is not the safest street in the city after dark, so enjoy the pretty walk along the busy street in the day to the French Quarter and Marigny, take a cab back after dark.
- Antebellum Guest House, 1333 Esplanade Ave, ☎ +1 504 943-1900 ([email protected]), . Opulence best describes this place, full of really magnificent antiques and chandeliers. Expect five star Creole hospitality, and excellent breakfasts. Courtyard garden has a sunken jacuzzi. $100-300.
- Degas House, 2306 Esplanade Ave, ☎ +1 504 821-5009, . This is Edgar Degas' house. Yes, you can stay in his house (or visit on a tour by appointment), and it's a lovely place to stay. Each room has a copy of Degas in New Orleans, a prize-winning documentary, and the house is filled with reproductions of the 22 paintings the master composed in this very house. Shelling out for one of the more impressive suites is a good idea, as some come with balconies and jacuzzi. $200-300.
- Empress Hotel, 1317 Ursulines Ave, ☎ +1 504 529-4100, . If you want a dirt cheap option within blocks of the French Quarter, well, this is that. But truth be told, it's a foul trap that tourists fall into, especially during a special event when it's hard to find lodging elsewhere. Past the cheery exterior is a run down place with questionable safety, cleanliness, and featuring hourly rates. This might work for some, but know what you are getting into. $30-65.
- Five Continents B&B, 1731 Esplanade Ave, ☎ +1 504 324-8594, . Another charming Esplanade Ave house with themed rooms of the various continents: Asian suite, European suite, etc. If you check the online reviews, you'll see that virtually everyone who has stayed there raves about the host's rich breakfasts. Gated off-street parking. $125-200.
- French Quarter RV Resort, 500 N Claiborne Ave, ☎ +1 504 586-3000, . This RV park has 52 sites, saltwater pool with a jacuzzi and pool bar, fitness and laundry rooms at the clubhouse, wired and wireless internet, and a business office. And it's next to the Quarter, the CBD, and an I-10 exit. The downside? The neighborhood. It's right next to the Iberville projects. But it does have excellent security. $70-150/night, $440/week.
- H H Whitney House, 1923 Esplanade Ave, ☎ +1 504 948-9448 ([email protected]), . Yet another really pretty Esplanade property—this one a Civil War-era Italianate. The owners are great about providing information about the city, and in addition to the huge breakfast in the morning, will set you up with complimentary cocktails. Really nice pool and jacuzzi in the back garden. $110-250.
- Monrose Row Bed & Breakfast, 1303 Governor Nicholls, ☎ +1 504 524-4950, . A popular spot for its charming and efficient owner, great big breakfasts, artwork and antiques, and the charm of a well-kept 1839 Tremé house (three suites). Unlike all the Esplanade B&Bs, Monrose Row is really right in the heart of the Tremé, not on its border. $120-225.
- New Orleans Guest House, 1118 Ursulines Ave, ☎ +1 504 566-1177. This uncreatively named fourteen-room inn has the distinction of great prices plus free secured parking right next to the Quarter (and Marigny). Breakfasts are pastries, fruit, juice and coffee/tea. $80-110.
- Rathbone Inn, 1227 and 1244 Esplanade Ave, ☎ +1 504 309-4479, . Consisting of two next door mansions dating back to the 1840s, this is the Esplanade option closest to the Quarter and Marigny. If you have a choice, the 1244 property is a little more convenient, as it has the new pool and jacuzzi, as well as the grand parlor for breakfast. Parking is limited, and you will likely need to park around the corner in the Tremé proper. $100-250.
Tremé is a neighborhood to be mindful about rather than avoided completely. Informed visitors can visit interesting attractions. Still, it is a good idea to dress down, do not display expensive jewelry or video-cameras in this presently economically compromised neighborhood.
Know where you are going and you can walk to the attractions which are just a block or so from the French Quarter or along Esplanade Ave during the day time. Since Katrina has rendered portions of the area relatively sparsely inhabited—the boarded up houses are not a result of blight, they are a result of natural disaster. Regardless, it is not recommended taking random long walks, at nighttime, through the neighborhood, especially in the areas furthest from the French Quarter, and those closest to the Iberville housing projects (west of St Louis Park and south of I-10).
Those who live in major metropolises, such as New York City for instance, would be less inclined to feeling "fearful" in this historic neighborhood. But, as with any place that is new to one, common sense as opposed to fear, is always the advantage. Keep in mind also that New Orleanians as a people, are exTremély hospitable and helpful.
Daytime events with many people around such as "jazz funerals" at Saint Augustine Church or outdoor concerts at Armstrong Park are very safe.
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