In New Orleans, the people’s sense of direction is in four viewpoints: Uptown, Downtown, River, or Lake. Along the lines of this compass that the Crescent City has graciously designated her own, unique neighborhoods exist, rich in history and culture. New Orleanians are known for their pride in their city, yet it only deepens as it reaches their own doorsteps. Each neighborhood contributes its own ingredient to the distinct, flavorful pot of the city that is New Orleans. Over the next few months, we will be offering several “profiles” of neighborhoods in the city of New Orleans. As we look to live the gospel, love the city, and be the church, it is important to know where we live and who we live among. Today’s neighborhood is the Uptown/Carrollton neighborhood.
The history of Uptown New Orleans begins with a divide among the French and Anglos. The original French settlement was in the modern-day areas of the Central Business District and the Vieux Carré (French Quarter). Following the Louisiana Purchase in the 18th century, Americans began to move to these areas in the city. Because of tension from the Creoles or French, Americans began to move “upriver” to build homes and faubourgs (suburbs or neighborhoods) along the riverfront of the Mississippi.
Farthest upriver in the Uptown area, the Carrollton area was originally an individually separate town. As a part of extending the New Basin Canal in the 1830s, a segment of land was purchased in efforts to create a resort-style community outside of the city of New Orleans. Visitors from neighboring New Orleans flocked to Carrollton arriving on steamboat or the Carrollton and New Orleans Railroad, now the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, to enjoy the pleasures of the local racetrack and amenities of the Carrollton Gardens Hotel.1
Because of the way that Uptown was established and continued to build up, the major streets run horizontally to the river, fitting to the curving crescent that gives New Orleans its name. Tchoupitoulas Street, closest to the river, is one of the city’s famous streets that stretches anyone’s pronunciation skills. Further in from the river, Magazine Street is home to various shops and boutiques, numerous restaurants, and quaint homes. This shopping district begins in the Central Business District and curves throughout the Lower Garden District and Uptown, ending at the Audubon Park and Zoo in the Audubon neighborhood of Uptown. This neighborhood also includes Tulane University and Loyola University. St. Charles Avenue, the iconic major street of the Uptown area, like Magazine Street begins in the Central Business District and ends at the river bend of the Carrollton area.
With other parts of the city considered more urban, St. Charles Avenue is the historic streetcar ride into the “moonlight and magnolias” New Orleans, with grand mansions on green lawns lining the street with aged oak trees encompassing the neighborhood.2 The famous St. Charles streetcar, recently designated a national historic landmark, allow locals and tourists to take in the Uptown culture a part of the city. The St. Charles streetcar continues to run to the Carrollton area to the main Carrollton Avenue. Besides St. Charles and Carrollton Avenues, the Carrollton neighborhoods stem off of Maple and Oak Streets. Home to several restaurants, local shops, and businesses, these streets are a combination of commercial and residential properties. Cul-de-sacs throughout Carrollton’s streets have allowed this area to maintain its identity of the past.
The Uptown/Carrollton neighborhood is comprised of eleven different sub-neighborhoods, all which make up District 3 of the city. The neighborhoods closest aligned with the river include West Riverside, Audubon, and the Black Pearl and Leonidas neighborhoods of the Carrollton area. Closer to Jefferson Parish are the Hollygrove and Dixon neighborhoods. The inner parts of the Uptown/Carrollton district include East Carrollton, Marlyville/Fontainebleau, Broadmoor, Freret, and the Uptown with Uptown.
According to the 2010 census, the smallest neighborhoods of Dixon, Black Pearl, and Freret each have a population of 2,000 or less, with the remaining neighborhoods in Uptown/Carrollton each having a population of 4,000 or more.3 In comparison to the Orleans Parish population of close to 344,000 taken in 2010, the Uptown/Carrollton area accounts for close to 58,000. The largest of the neighborhoods, Audubon single-handedly has a population of almost 16,000. Interestingly, Audubon is the only neighborhood that saw an increase in population from the 2000 census, following Hurricane Katrina. Every other neighborhood saw a great decrease in people. Considering the Uptown/Carrollton area is on much higher ground than other parts of the city, these neighborhoods were spared from a significant amount of flooding during Katrina. Because of drainage issues, Broadmoor and Hollygrove were some of the only neighborhoods that had significant flood damage.
The racial makeup of the Uptown/Carrollton area varies as with any part of the city of New Orleans. The Hollygrove and Dixon neighborhoods are predominantly African-American with 90 percent or more of African-American families, with also Broadmoor, Leonidas, and Freret with 60 percent or more African-American families. The remaining neighborhoods of Marlyville/Fontainebleau, Uptown, West Riverside, Black Pearl, East Carrollton, and Audubon are predominantly white neighborhoods with 63 percent or more whites.4
1Elsie Martinez and Margaret LeCorgne, Uptown/Downtown: Growing Up in New Orleans (Lafayette, Louisiana: University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1996), 14.
2Debra Shriver, In the Spirit of New Orleans (New York: Assouline Publishing, 2012), 117.
3“The Data Center Analysis of Data from U.S. Census 2000 Summary File 1 (Sf1) and U.S. Census 2010 Summary File 1 (Sf1),” The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, accessed March 23, 2015, http://www.datacenterresearch.org.
4All statistics are from the Greater New Orleans Data Center.