Algiers, New Orleans
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Algiers is also known as the 15th Ward, one of the 17 Wards of New Orleans.
Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, was granted a large tract of land on the West Bank of the river opposite New Orleans in 1719. This date is sometimes given as the year of the town's founding, making it one of the oldest neighborhoods in what is now New Orleans, but development as a town as opposed to a private plantation did not actually occur until about 1800. The name is believed to have come from the proximity to the city as compared to France and Algeria. Another theory is that a soldier returning from fighting in Algeria decided it looked just like that country when viewed from a ship.1
A powder magazinedisambiguation needed was built here for safety reasons and because it stood on higher ground. A slaughterhouse was also established and Algiers went by the name of Slaughterhouse Point for some time. With the importation of African slaves, Algiers was used as a holding area until those that survived the crossing recovered enough to be dispatched across the river to be sold. Algiers was to become a holding area for the Cajuns that survived the Grand Derangement, when the British expelled them from Nova Scotia.1 The oldest part of Algiers is Algiers Point, across the river from the French Quarter.
The Duverjes built their plantation home in Algiers in about 1812. They would become the first family of Algiers and their home would later become the Algiers Courthouse. Algiers Point has been connected with the foot of Canal Street across the river by the Canal Street Ferry since 1827.
Part of the Battle of New Orleans (January 1, 1815) was fought on the West Bank in what is now Algiers. Original earthworks remain, marked with a historical marker on General Meyer Ave. in the Aurora Gardens neighborhood.
Much land in Algiers and elsewhere in south Louisiana was owned by John McDonogh, who was one of the world's largest private land owners until his death in 1850 when his estate was willed to public schools in Baltimore and New Orleans.23 4 McDonogh's home was located on the river south of Algiers point, but the land has since been washed away.5 McDonogh's grave is in the McDonogh Cemetery in Gretna.
In the 1850s, Algiers became a major railroad center and eastern terminus of the New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad. The Algiers Train Ferry carried passengers across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter landing at St. Ann St. to the railroad terminal.6 Later, the railroad yard at Algiers would be the eastern repair shop for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The SPRR shop employed 4000 and had the capability to build mechanical parts for steamships.5
In April 1862, during the American Civil War, flames arose from the shipyards in Algiers as Confederate officials destroyed property that might benefit the invading Union troops. Historian John D. Winters, in his The Civil War in Louisiana (1963), notes that the New Orleans populace was "'amazed and could scarcely realize the awful fact, and ran hither and thither in speechless astonishment.' . . . Shocked out of their dumb disbelief, many people joined in the destruction. Cotton was rolled from the warehouses, ships loaded with produce were boarded, and fire was set to the lot. Crowds of the city poor broke open warehouses and carried away baskets, bags, and carts spilling over with rice, bacon, sugar, molasses, corn, and other foods. What they could not carry away they attempted to destroy by dumping in the river, burning, or throwing into the open gutters. A mob broke into the powder and gun factories in the Marine Hospital and carried away rifles and ammunition. The city was a frenzy of disorganized activity."7
In 1870, Algiers was annexed to the city as the 15th Ward, an arrangement which has remained although there have been repeated discussions of secession.
Until the latter 1930s, large rail yards housed large amounts of freight and rolling stock, which was brought back and forth across the Mississippi River by barge. Then the Huey P. Long Bridge was built upriver at Bridge City, Louisiana. The largest railroad presence was the Southern Pacific yard.5 That location is still known to Algerines as "the SP yard." For decades it was largely a vacant strip. Portions of the tract were redeveloped for housing in the early 21st century. In the yard's active days, a steam-powered Southern Pacific train ferry brought railroad cars from there across the Mississippi River. The Algiers railyards were known for their ability to repair or create replacements for any part needed for any type of locomotive and mechanical parts for ships.5
A fire destroyed most of the buildings in Algiers in 1895.5 Most of the gingerbread-fronted houses seen in the neighborhood today date from the rebuilding that began almost immediately after that fire; although a small number of older buildings still survive.
In 1901,the U.S. Navy established a Naval Station in Algiers. From 1966 until 2009, the site was one of the two campuses of the Naval Support Activity New Orleans base. Now the shuttered facility's Westbank campus is being redeveloped as a Federal City.
For centuries, intensive settlement in Algiers extended little beyond Algiers Point. The completion of the GNO bridge across the Mississippi River in 1958 (now the Crescent City Connection) and the construction of Victory Drive (now General DeGaulle) and General Meyer Avenue made significant new development possible, and Algiers grew rapidly for the next twenty-five years.
An early history of Algiers is The Story of Algiers by William H. Seymour, published in 1896. The book was republished in 1971 and has been referenced in New Orleans and Louisiana histories.5 An index of the book is on-line at the New Orleans Public Library Web site.8
Algiers is home to many churches. There are numerous Catholic and Baptist congregations. The oldest Lutheran congregation, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, was founded in 1875.10 Trinity's steeple was blown off by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A Catholic congregation, as well as Methodist and Episcopalian congregations, are all on the Historic Register of New Orleans, and some Algiers churches are listed on the National Historic Landmark lists.
There are two branches of the New Orleans Public Library located in Algiers.11 The Cita Dennis Hubbell Branch was built in 1907 as the Pelican Avenue Branch, one of three Carnegie libraries in New Orleans. Following years of neglect and hurricane damage, the library's roof was found to be in imminent danger of collapse and the location was closed on May 2008.12 The Hubbell Branch was temporarily located at the Algiers Courthouse Carriage House a few blocks away, until it re-opened in the summer of 2013 in the original Pelican Avenue location. The Algiers Regional Branch, two miles away, is a larger library built in 1966. This library was damaged extensively by Katrina. The building was demolished and a new library constructed, which opened in early 2013.13
The area upriver from the Point was historically known as McDonoghville (which extended into part of what is now Gretna). Downriver from the Point is the West Bank portion of Naval Support Activity New Orleans, the largest military installation in the Greater New Orleans area. Further downriver from this is the neighborhood of Aurora,Lower Algiers (Cutoff, River Park) and further still, the English Turn area, which was not substantially developed until the late 20th century.
On September 26, 2005, Algiers became the first major section of New Orleans to be reopened to residents after Hurricane Katrina. Although a number of buildings suffered wind damage from the storm, Algiers escaped the flooding which affected most of the East Bank.
Algiers contains many neighborhoods such as
- Algiers Point
- Old Aurora
- New Aurora
- Lower Algiers (Cutoff, River Park)
- Fischer Development
- Tall Timbers/Brechtel
For the 2006-2007 school year, parents have a choice between the following NOPS operated schools:
- Benjamin Franklin Elementary School (K-8)
- Bethune Elementary School (K-8)
- McMain High School
- McDonogh 35 High School
The schools include:
- Martin Behrman Elementary School (K-8)- Algiers Point
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School (K-8)- Tall Timbers/Brechtel
- William J. Fischer Elementary School (K-8)- Fischer Development
- Alice M. Harte Elementary School (K-8)- Old Aurora
- McDonogh #32 Elementary School (K-8)- McDonogh
- Harriet R. Tubman Elementary School (K-8)- Whitney
- Edna Karr High School- Old Aurora
- O. Perry Walker High School - Behrman
- L. B. Landry High School- Whitney
Colleges: Our Lady of Holy Cross
- http://algierspoint.org/AHS/history.html algierspoint.org "Algiers History"
- McDonogh, John (1851). The last will and testament of John McDonogh, late of MacDonoghville, state of Louisiana. New Orleans: Printed at the job office of The Daily Delta. LCCN 2002553168.
- Allan, William (1886). Life and Work of John Mcdonogh. Baltimore: I. Friedenwald. 152545752.
- Ciravolo, G. Leighton (2002). The legacy of John McDonogh. Lafayette LA: Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. ISBN 1-887366-48-2.
- Seymour, William H. (1971). The story of Algiers, 1718-1896. Gretna LA: Pelican Publishing Company. LCCN 71162346.
- Dixon, Bill (2009). Last Days of Last Island: The Hurricane of 1856, Louisiana’s First Great Storm. Lafayette, LA: University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. ISBN 1-887366-88-1
- John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. 96
- "What's New in NUTRIAS". New Orleans Public Library. Retrieved 2006-04-28.dead link
- National Register of Historic Places - Algiers
- Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Branches and Bookmobiles. New Orleans Public Library. Retrieved on March 31, 2010.
- Hubbell Library
- Hubbell Library
- "Central Office Staff." New Orleans Public Schools. Retrieved on December 15, 2009.
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- Algiers Point Association
- Algiers Point Information and Links page
- Cita Dennis Hubbell Library
- City of New Orleans
- Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society