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Monday, September 03, 2007

Lafitte Corridor Among New Orleans Most Endangered Landmarks

The Louisiana Landmarks Society, a non-profit devoted to is to preserving Louisiana's historic sites and resources just released their list of the 11 most endangered landmarks in New Orleans in 2007. Fourth on their list was the Lafitte Corridor. Here is a detailed description why the society is concerned.

The Lafitte Corridor runs from Basin Street to Canal Boulevard along St. Louis Street through Mid City. Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods have been working to preserve this open space and are in the process of creating a bike path that would run the entire length of the corridor, permitting a pedestrian friendly way to traverse the city from the French Quarter to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. National Historic Districts are in place along both sides of this 3-mile stretch of land. The concept of a public park amenity in this swath of land has been embraced as part of the city master plan since 1999. Logically, the Sojourner Truth Community Center, Lemann Playground and Community pool, complete with tennis courts, would all be a all logical components with this larger amenity serving the children of New Orleans. Right now, these facilities sit neglected, in need of major attention from the City.

This neglected strip which was once part of the Carondelet Canal and later became the old Norfolk Southern Rail Line, is ideal for a trail and park network in the corridor. In 1794 the Carondelet Canal was completed from Bayou St. John to Basin Street and was a small but critical waterway for commercial ships to reach the back of the French Quarter near Congo Square.

In 1938, the canal was filled in and railroad tracks were installed, the Lafitte Corridor remained an important path for the delivery of mail and other non-passenger freight. It was here that Storyville formed on Basin Street between the Lafitte Corridor and Canal Street where the passenger terminal was located in the late 1800s.

Recently, the Friends of the Lafitte Corridor, an organization working to secure portions of the corridor for a dedicated bike and pedestrian path were a substantial grant in support of their vision. Commercial developers have begun the push to acquire some large parcels of land along this corridor. Development along this critical area, which runs through the heart of the city, should be done with gentle consideration for the residential core of Treme, Mid-City and Bayou St. John.

Threat: Inappropriate Land Use, development pressure, neglect.


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