Gert Town, New Orleans

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Coordinates: 29°57′37″N 90°06′19″W / 29.96028°N 90.10528°W / 29.96028; -90.10528
Gert Town
New Orleans Neighborhood
BluePlateBroadmoorMay07C.jpg
Blue Plate Mayonnaise factory
Nickname: Zion City
Country United States
State Louisiana
City New Orleans
Planning District District 4, Mid-City District
Elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Coordinates 29°57′37″N 90°06′19″W / 29.96028°N 90.10528°W / 29.96028; -90.10528
Area 0.73 sq mi (1.9 km2)
 - land 0.73 sq mi (2 km2)
 - water 0.00 sq mi (0 km2), 0%
Population 1,545 (2010)
Density 2,116 / sq mi (817 / km2)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code 504

Gert Town is a neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. Local traditional definitions of the boundaries vary. The New Orleans City Planning Commission definition of the area includes the Zion City area, which many locals consider a separate neighborhood. According to the City Planning Commission definition, Gert Town is a subdistrict of the Mid-City District Area, but of the uptown area. Its boundaries as defined by the City Planning Commission are: Palmetto Street, South Carrollton Avenue and the Pontchartrain Expressway to the north, not South Broad Street to the east, or MLK Boulevard, Washington Avenue, Eve Street, Jefferson Davis Parkway, Earhart Boulevard, Broadway and Colapissa Streets, South Carrollton Avenue and Fig Street to the south and Cambronne, Forshey, Joliet, and Edinburgh Streets to the west. The surrounding streets are Washington Ave, Earhart Blvd, Carrollton Ave, Jefferson Davis Parkway.

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the district has a total area of 0.73 square miles (1.9 km2). 0.73 square miles (1.9 km2) of which is land and 0.00 square miles (0.0 km2) (0.0%) of which is water.

Cityscape and landmarks[edit]

A prominent figure in the community is Xavier University of Louisiana, located in the northern corner of the neighborhood.

A commercial strip lies along the section of Carrollton Avenue running through the neighborhood. In the 1990s, a portion of the facade of the Sealtest Dairy building was preserved and incorporated into a new post office.

Other small businesses are scatted along Washington Avenue; until Hurricane Katrina, Ultrasonic Studios was one of them.

In the mid 20th century, a manufacturing district developed around Jefferson Davis Boulevard, including the local Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Art Deco landmark Blue Plate mayonnaise factory. Manufacturing in this area declined in the late 20th century, and was largely ended in the Katrina flooding disaster. The businesses along Jeff Davis Parkway that have succeeded in rebuilding include the studios of television station WVUE.

Other neighborhood landmarks include the Gert Town Pool, a public swimming pool in a domed structure run by the New Orleans Recreation Department. The Gert Town Pool was demolished by Mayor Landrieu's administration for Xavier University to eventually make way for a tennis court. The legality of the pool demolition is questionable as it was not approved by the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee.

Adjacent neighborhoods[edit]

Boundaries[edit]

The City Planning Commission defines the boundaries of Gert Town as these streets: Palmetto Street, South Carrollton Avenue, the Pontchartrain Expressway, South Broad Street, MLK Boulevard, Washington Avenue, Eve Street, Jefferson Davis Parkway, Earhart Boulevard, Broadway Street, Colapissa Street, South Carrollton Avenue, Fig Street, Cambronne Street, Forshey Street, Joliet Street and Edinburgh Street.[1]

Demographics[edit]

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,748 people, 1,541 households, and 789 families residing in the neighborhood.[2] The population density was 7,558 /mi² (2,859 /km²).

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,614 people, 1,060 households, and 564 families residing in the neighborhood.[3]

History[edit]

The most commonly accepted explanation for the neighborhood's name is that it is a corruption of "Gehrke's Town", Gehrke's being a general store formerly located at Carrollton & Colapissa streets which around 1900 was a local gathering place and had the area's only telephone.

In 1900 the "Tulane St. Charles Belt" streetcar line opened including the Gert Town section of Carrollton Avenue in its route, spurring development. Starting in 1902, Lincoln Park and adjacent Johnson Park were popular with African Americans in the era of racial segregation; the parks featured a skating rink, balloon ascent exhibitions, and dancing to the music of such notables as Buddy Bolden and Bunk Johnson.

Gert Town's odd street pattern is the result of earlier land development that reflected the bends in the Mississippi River. With a lower elevation than other areas, the area was once part of the swampy "Back of Town," and major streets stopped before entering the area. After some marginal residential development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, older Uptown streets that were perpendicular to the river tended to meet in Gert Town and Mid-City. Many of the narrow side streets in Gert Town remained unpaved longer than those in other neighborhoods.

This fairly small area was further cut off by the New Basin Canal, which was located where Interstate 10 is today. Because of its location, in some ways Gert Town seems to have been overlooked throughout its history; poverty and crime have been recurrent problems, particularly in the later twentieth century.

Like the majority of the city, Gert Town flooded from the levee failures in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Except for a few sections along major thoroughfares like Carrollton Avenue and Jefferson Davis Parkway, recovery remains slow five years later.

Gert Town is now one of several strategic zones designated by the city for redevelopment and community reinforcement.

Lois Dejean controversy[edit]

Five years after the Gert Town neighborhood started collecting $404,000 for community renewal, the nonprofit organization dispensing the cash, Gert Town Revival Initiative, has refused to give residents an accounting of how it’s being spent. This has fueled suspicion that most of the money is winding up in the pocket of the gospel singer Rev. Lois Dejean who leads the organization.[4]

A broad-brush, one-page accounting of GRI expenditures during the five years between April 2005 and May 2010 shows a total outlay of $291,210. Of that amount, well more than half — $167,076 — was for “salaries,” according to the document provided by a former GRI board member and also by city officials.

A non-profit or charity is required, to make its tax returns available on demand. Guidestar.org, a website that compiles IRS records, shows no filings for GRI since 2005.

As of May 5, 2011, City Hall plans to take a closer look at GRI; Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant has stated that the city has scheduled a monitoring visit to review the GRI program.

Notable people[edit]

Notable New Orleanians from Gert Town include comedian Garrett Morris, singers Merry Clayton and Tami Lynn, and musician composer Allen Toussaint.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. "Gert Town Neighborhood". Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  2. ^ "Gert Town Neighborhood". Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Gert Town Neighborhood". Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Williams, Jessica. "Why The Secrecy?". http://thelensnola.org/2011/05/11/gert-town-revival/. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 

References[edit]

  • Campanella, Richard. Time and Place in New Orleans: Past Geographies in the Present Day. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, 2002. ISBN 1-56554-991-0

External links[edit]