It had been sometime, since we did more than drive through the area, once known as “Storyville.” In December, on a gorgeous Winter day, while strolling the length of the French Quarter, on Rampart St (the lakeside boundary of the Quarter), we decided to look at the redevelopment of Storyville.
Basically, Storyville is an almost square twenty blocks, and runs from Iberville St to St Louis St, and Basin St to Claiborne St. It encompasses two famous cemeteries, St Louis #1, and #2.
Once, the area was quite grand, and famous for its houses of prostitution. That changed in 1917, when the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy, declared it too close to a US military installation, during WWI. Having thrived since its “creation” in 1897, it was gone.
During its heyday, it also turned out, or gave a spotlight to many of the jazz greats from that time.
We knew the area at probably its rundown worst, and even driving past on Basin St (named for the New Basin Canal, which once ran along the downriver edge of Storyville), one would lock their doors.
Now, the area is experiencing a resurgence, but not with bawdy houses this time. Just to the upriver side, along Canal St, the development is most prominent, with the remodeling and reopening of the Saenger Theater, and the condominiums across Basin St, and behind the theater.
The Storyville area has been immortalized in the TV series, “Treme,” which is the name for the broader area.
On this visit, we did not do a tour of either of the St Louis Cemeteries, but have done both – however at a time before tours were required.
We walked past Lulu White’s Saloon, named for a famous bawdy house madam, from the active days of Storyville. The Vietnam War Memorial is right along the Basin St edge, and this was new to us. Everywhere we looked, there was renovation, and construction, and the area is slowly returning to its past glory. It had definitely come a very long way, from the days that we would avoid the area, any way possible.
After a little detour, we were back to Rampart St, to head to a “Champagne bar,” but it was closed on this Monday.