Irish Channel, New Orleans

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Coordinates: 29°55′23″N 90°04′55″W / 29.92306°N 90.08194°W / 29.92306; -90.08194
Irish Channel
New Orleans Neighborhood
St. Alphonsus Church 03.JPG
St. Alphonsus Church on Constance Street in the Irish Channel
Country United States
State Louisiana
City New Orleans
Planning District District 2, Central City/Garden District
Elevation 7 ft (2.1 m)
Coordinates 29°55′23″N 90°04′55″W / 29.92306°N 90.08194°W / 29.92306; -90.08194
Area 0.83 sq mi (2.1 km2)
 - land 0.50 sq mi (1 km2)
 - water 0.33 sq mi (1 km2), 39.76%
Population 1,907 (2010)
Density 2,298 / sq mi (887 / km2)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code 504

Irish Channel is a neighborhood of the city of New Orleans. A subdistrict of the Central City/Garden District Area, its boundaries as defined by the New Orleans City Planning Commission are: Magazine Street to the north, First Street to the east, the Mississippi River to the south and Toledano Street to the west.

Geography[edit]

Irish Channel is located at 29°55′23″N 90°04′55″W / 29.92306°N 90.08194°W / 29.92306; -90.08194 [1] and has an elevation of 7 feet (2.1 m)[2]. According to the United States Census Bureau, the district has a total area of 0.83 square miles (2.1 km2). 0.50 square miles (1.3 km2) of which is land and 0.33 square miles (0.9 km2) (39.76%) of which is water.

Adjacent Neighborhoods[edit]

Boundaries[edit]

The City Planning Commission defines the boundaries of the Irish Channel as these streets: Tchoupitoulas Street, Toledano Street, Magazine Street, First Street, the Mississippi River and Napoleon Avenue.[3]

The Historic District Landmarks Commission defines the boundaries of the Irish Channel as these streets: Jackson Ave. to Delachaise St., Magazine St. to Tchoupitoulas St.[4]

Demographics[edit]

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,270 people, 1,750 households, and 904 families residing in the neighborhood.[5] The population density was 8,540 /mi² (3,285 /km²).

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,373 people, 1,665 households, and 649 families residing in the neighborhood.[5]

History[edit]

The mostly working-class neighborhood was, as the name implies, originally settled largely by immigrants from Ireland in the early 19th century. However early on the area also had people of other ethnicities, including German, Italian, and African American, living nearby each other. The origin of the name is obscure. However, one school of thought says that the Irish "channeled" into the area, while another says that rain would settle into the streets of this predominately Irish neighborhood at the time.[6]

Significant emigration from Ireland to the United States occurred during the period 1810 - 1850, with a particularly large wave to New Orleans during the decade of the 1830s. The point of debarkation was Adele Street, where many immigrants, penniless, took up residence in simple cottages, providing the beginnings of today's shotgun houses.[7] These Irish immigrants arrived primarily to dig the New Basin Canal,[6] and were generally regarded as expendable labor.[7] Many of these immigrants were misled by shipping companies who led prospective immigrants to believe that New Orleans was close to other Irish enclaves in the United States such as New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston. New Orleans subsequently had the largest Irish population in the American South. These Irish immigrants were predominantly Roman Catholic, in contrast to the Protestant Irish that were more common as immigrants to most of the rest of the Southeastern United States.[6] In addition to the Irish Channel, many Irish immigrants also settled at Irish Bayou, in present day Eastern New Orleans.


At the time of early immigration to the Irish Channel, this area was outside of the incorporated city of New Orleans, and the area was known as Lafayette, being formally annexed into New Orleans in 1852.[8] Irish ethnicity dominated despite the multi-ethnicity of the area. Adele Street was the center of activity in the early days of the Irish Channel.[8] St. Alphonsus Church, constructed in 1855 by the Redemptorist Fathers, served the religious and cultural needs of this Irish immigrant population for many years.[9] In these early years, churches were built to serve various other ethnic groups. St. Mary's Assumption Church served the German immigrant population of the Irish Channel, while Notre Dame de Bon Secours Church served the French immigrants.

The Irish Channel developed a reputation for ruffians early in its history,[10] a reputation that slowly eroded. Much of this centered around conflicts between ethnic groups, eventually congealing as gangs, such as the St. Mary's Market Gang, the Shot Tower Gang, the Pine Knot Gang, and the Crowbar gang.[8] The river front area was home to petty thieves and prostitutes, although much of the gang activity of the time centered on the corner of St. Mary Street and Religious Street.[7]

Through the early 20th century much of the population worked in the port of New Orleans before modern shipping innovations greatly reduced the need for stevedores and similar jobs. There were also local breweries in the area. This had significant economic consequences, with the resulting poverty persisting today.[11]

Since about the 1960s, the neighborhood has been majority African American, with substantial minorities of the descendants of the 19th century immigrants and more recent Latino immigrants.[12] Parades and parties are held on and around St. Patrick's Day which are enjoyed by many locals whether they are of Irish ancestry or not. Examples of organizations that parade on St. Patrick's Day and promote other civic activities are the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club and the Irish Channel Corner Club. The local chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians also promotes Irish Channel heritage.[13] Parasol's Bar and Tracey's Bar, a block apart on Third Street, on are a focal point for St. Patrick's Day parades in the Irish Channel.[7]

The area is known for much surviving working class and middle class 19th century residential architecture, including many shotgun houses. The neighborhood included the St. Thomas Development.

Built on the city's old high ground, the neighborhood escaped the catastrophic flooding of most of the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (see: Effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans).

Education[edit]

The Irish Channel is zoned to schools in the New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS) and the Recovery School District (RSD).

The Batiste Cultural Arts Academy is a K-8 charter school operated by the charter management organization ReNEW Schools that is located in the former Live Oak Elementary School Building in the Irish Channel. As of 2012 it has over 600 students. In 2012 the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities stated that the school was one of eight that would participate in the Turnaround Arts program.[14]

After Hurricane Katrina, Live Oak was a school directly operated by the RSD.[15] In 2009 about 75% of the fourth graders at the Live Oak Elementary School failed the LEAP test.[16] In 2010 the school had a performance score of "40" which was below the "65" that was the level considered "academically unacceptable."[15] Cindy Chang of The Times-Picayune said former Live Oak Elementary School was performing so poorly that Paul Vallas, the superintendent of the RSD, gave the school to the ReNEW charter management school group, which specialized in taking control of poor performing schools. ReNEW repurposed the school into Batiste Academy. Gary Robichaux, the executive director of ReNEW, had full control over the school's hiring and firing, and he kept 15% of the previous teaching staff and brought younger teachers to replace them.[16]

Notable people[edit]

Many early jazz musicians including Tom Brown, the Brunies brothers, Nick LaRocca, and Tony Sbarbaro lived in the Irish Channel.[17] Prizefighter John L. Sullivan trained in the Irish Channel,[8] since much prizefighting centered in New Orleans in the late 19th century.[18]

"Anti" O'Rourke was a show man who earned his living as a diver, often diving from steamboats on the Mississippi River. He originated the jack-knife dive, which he termed the "Anti Dive".[8]

Francis Xavier Seelos was a Redemptorist priest who served those stricken by yellow fever in the Irish Channel from 1866-7. He was blessed by Pope John Paul II and there is a feast day for him on October 5.[19]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. "Irish Channel Neighborhood". Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  4. ^ "Irish Channel Neighborhood". Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Irish Channel Neighborhood". Greater New Orleans Community Data Center. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c J. Martin, as interviewed by A.N. McGrath, Irish Eyes, vol. 2, no. 2, p. 7, July / August 1995.
  7. ^ a b c d Irish Channel Neighborhood, accessed June 10, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e L. Saxon, E. Dreyer, R. Tallant, Gumbo Ya-Ya, Pelican Publishing Co., 1998, pp. 50 - 74, ISBN 0882896458.
  9. ^ History of the St. Alphonsus Art and Cultural Center, accessed June 16, 2012.
  10. ^ Daily Delta, July 10, 1861.
  11. ^ Change in the Irish Channel, accessed June 10, 2012.
  12. ^ Journal of American History, 94 (Dec. 2007), pp. 704-15.
  13. ^ Louisiana Chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, accessed June 9, 2012.
  14. ^ Vanacore, Andrew. "Batiste Academy in Irish Channel chosen for federal arts program." The Times-Picayune. April 23, 2012. Retrieved on March 30, 2013. "Batiste Cultural Arts Academy, a K-8 charter school of more than 600 students in the Irish Channel neighborhood,[...]" and "Batiste, located on the site of the old Live Oak Elementary, is in the second year of a turnaround effort led by the charter management organization ReNew."
  15. ^ a b Morris, Robert. "ReNEW hopes to lift Laurel and Live Oak schools out of “failing” status next year, and will open accelerated high school at Bauduit campus in the fall." Uptown Messenger. May 20, 2012. Retrieved on April 2, 2013.
  16. ^ a b Chang, Cindy. "Katrina rewrites the book on education in New Orleans." The Times-Picayune. Thursday August 26, 2010. Updated Monday May 28, 2012. Retrieved on April 1, 2013. "Last year, the Batiste building on Constance Street in the Garden District was occupied by Live Oak Elementary."
  17. ^ National Park Service maps.
  18. ^ University of Richmond History Engine, accessed June 12, 2012.
  19. ^ The Life of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, accessed June 21, 2012.