Along St. Claude
Over the course of 2013, I interviewed dozens and dozens of folks who live, or once lived, in the neighborhoods along both sides of St. Claude Avenue, roughly from St. Bernard to Poland Avenue. I asked folks to share stories of their neighborhoods, what they’re like now, how they’ve changed, and how they feel about those changes. These voices became the makings of a seven part radio documentary, Along Saint Claude, which aired on WWNO, our local NPR station.
In the years I've lived on, and just off, of Saint Claude Avenue, I'm amazed by the changes I see happening around me. I hear people talking about these changes all the time, and I wanted to listen more closely to what different people think and feel about our community’s past, present, and future. I am incredibly thankful to all the people who took time to talk with me.
Thanks also to: Adam Fiebleman, Nina Feldman, Thomas Walsh, Tina Antolini, Laine Kaplan Levenson, Seth Ludman, Marie Lovejoy, Alison Fensterstock, Greg Schatz, Rebecca Snedeker, Katy Reckdahl, and Eve Troeh.
Listen to the entire, hour-long documentary here:
Or in 7 separate parts:
Downtown New Orleans goes by lots of names: Marigny, Bywater, St. Claude, St. Roch, the 9th Ward. But a lot of these names are relatively recent inventions. How do these names form our identities? How do they separate and divide us?
Before we lived here, before anyone from Europe or Africa lived here, the geography of this land laid the foundation for everything that came afterwards. In 6 minutes, learn 300 years of Downtown New Orleans’ history!
The neighborhoods along Saint Claude have been lots of things for lots of people, but when today’s old timers wax nostalgic about “the old neighborhood,” it’s often for this place -- the neighborhood we now call Bywater.
The neighborhoods along Saint Claude have been changing even before they were neighborhoods, but the upheaval known as White Flight, which began in the middle of the last century, drastically reorganized who lives where in New Orleans, and all over our country.
Some people can barely even say the word gentrification. Others blame it for a host of problems. Still others think it gets a bad rap. Let’s get into it.
Who are these new people moving to the neighborhoods along Saint Claude Avenue? (People, like me, for example.) What does it mean to be “from” here? And why on Earth would anyone want to move to a city that flooded so badly?
Chances are, if you live in a neighborhood along Saint Claude Avenue, you live in an old building. It may even be the reason you live here. These masterfully crafted, aging, and often dilapidated houses stand on some of New Orleans’ highest ground. In other words, they’ve become hot property. In this episode: real estate, zoning, the arts corridor, restoration, scale, density, and a hint at the future.
In order to make Along Saint Claude, I extensively interviewed well over 4 dozen people. Those hundreds of hours of recordings simply couldn't be squeezed into a single documentary, and many, many beautiful moments died on the cutting room floor. Take a listen to some of my favorite outtakes, and come back for more! We'll be switching out from time to time and adding others.