Artwork courtesy Amzie Adams
Faubourg St. John, established in 1708, is a neighborhood located just north of Broad Street at the intersection of Orleans Ave.
It is approximately 75 city blocks in area and has an average elevation of about 1 foot above sea level. Not bad when you consider about half of New Orleans is several feet under sea level. More than 4,000 residents call Faubourg St. John home.
One of New Orleans’ finest neighborhoods, Faubourg St. John is famous for its stately trees, abundant parks, spectacular homes, world-class museums, vibrant bayou, excellent restaurants and fine shops throughout the neighborhood especially along its business districts on Ponce de Leon and Broad Streets.
Faubourg St. John contains the full range of residential uses, fun and friendly business districts, office space, a wide range of medical services and a small amount of light industrial property. This full range of land use, plus the economic and ethnic diversity of the neighborhoods’ population qualifies Faubourg St. John as a premier destination.
FAUBOURG ST. JOHN
“Where Big Dreams Grow!”
Bayou St. John is the Reason for New Orleans
by Angela Carll
Times Picayune – November 15, 1985
Bayou St. John is the reason New Orleans is located where it is. The bayou provided a connection from the Mississippi River overland via an old Indian path to Lake Ponchartrain.
A number of historic landmarks still stand in this neighborhood to remind visitors of the city’s heritage.
The Old Spanish Custom House, built in 1784 at the corner of Moss Street and Grand Route Saint John, is the oldest structure in this neighborhood.
Another renowned home is the Pitot House, named for James Pitot, the second mayor of New Orleans. Built in 1799 at 1370 Moss Street, the Pitot House was later moved a short distance up the bayou to 1440 Moss in 1970.
The Tivoli amusement park once stood where the Pitot House is now. It featured a pavillion, orange trees, and dances were held there on Sundays.
Much of Bayou St. John remained swampy and unable to be developed while the city was attempting to drain the area, which was called “back of town” as early as 1835.
In 1866, the city started using the bayou as a drainage receptacle, and a community of houseboats grew up along it. In 1936, the State House of Representatives declared the bayou a non-navigable stream.
Fort St. John, where the bayou and lake meet, was originally built as a fortification by the French and later became the most prominent resort area in New Orleans during the 1930s. The Old Spanish Fort still stands on this site.
The fort is a modern-day battleground. The Orleans Levee Board has proposed replacing the Lakeshore Drive bridge that spans the bayou at its entrance to the lake with a grade-level crossing using culverts for water to flow back and forth from the lake to the bayou.
Members of the Bayou St. John Improvement Association have sued the Levee Board to halt construction, arguing that wind moves water currents and that the City Park lagoons which are fed by water from the bayou will soon stagnate. They also contend that closing the mouth of the bayou will damage an important part of the city’s historical heritage.(The “waterfall dam” near the mouth of Bayou St. John was removed in 2013. Please visit the link for more information: http://fsjna.org/2012/08/update-on-dam-removal/)
Although the bayou today lacks even the rowing clubs, which were popular in the last century, a drive along its curving shore shows typical Louisiana country homes. It still exists to remind us of New Orleans’ earliest beginnings, and why the city was built in a place that seems most improbable to us today.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW A PDF OF THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE.
Faubourg St. John was a community ten years before the founding of New Orleans in 1718.
The Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association Executive Board:
Michael Cohn | Jimmy Fahrenholtz | Winter Jeanfreau Linda Landesberg | Seth Levine | Tommy Lewis | Brenda London | Charlie London | Steve Mardon | Gloria Martin | Pushpa Ramaiah | Rocky Seydel | Kerry Tully
The FSJNA Advisory Board:
Conrad Abadie | Vincent Booth | Richard Cahn | Mike Pearce | Suzanne Accorsi | Nancy Shepard | Bobby Wozniak
Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association
P.O. Box 19101
New Orleans, LA 70179
The Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association (FSJNA), organized in 1977, is a benevolent group interested in continuing improvements in this historic New Orleans neighborhood through its people, children, historic waterway, public spaces and other environs.
FSJNA has participated in numerous beautification efforts throughout Faubourg St. John from Parks and Playgrounds to simple street plantings. A few examples of this are Desmare Playground, rebuilt by FSJNA in the early 90’s and beautified with tree plantings in 2008, the maintenance and care of Fortier Park, the beautification of the median on Esplanade Avenue and plantings along Bayou St. John. FSJNA worked in conjunction with KABOOM to restore the children’s’ play area at Stallings Playground, which was negatively impacted by Hurricane Katrina. After playground equipment was installed, FSJNA obtained a loan to purchase additionally needed rubberized safety tiles for the area. FSJNA also continues to apply for grants to support these activities. Our Keep Louisiana Beautiful grant allowed us to obtain benches and garbage cans for local parks.
FSJNA works to keep its membership informed. The http://FSJNA.org website (available to anyone) is a library of the events, benefits, and programs FSJNA provides. Additionally FSJNA.com is a resource for paid members (dues are $10 per year) this is a “yahoo group” website where members can exchange ideas, get neighborhood information, and even get hurricane updates. During our recent barrage of hurricanes over the last few years, this site was a welcome source of information from people who stayed in the neighborhood to those who evacuated. It can be very reassuring to know the status of your home when you are away. The Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association is also represented on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
While zoning matters can be contentious, they are a necessary function of an involved neighborhood organization. FSJNA has successfully negotiated and worked with most of the neighborhood businesses to protect the quality of life and increase the appeal of the area for those businesses and residents through limiting traffic and noise pollution, helping with the elimination of blight and providing safer streets.
FSJNA also works with and reaches out to other non-profits and bordering neighborhood organizations by participating in area festivals, cultural events, community workshops and informational seminars. Future work will continue to focus on building partnerships with local non-profits and community organizations to help retain the historic character and positive quality of life we enjoy.
Past and potential fundraising activities include solicitation of private donations by members through email and in person, applying for grants and matching government funds, and holding special events such as a historic home tour, continued involvement with the Fortier Park Fest, Bastille Day Festival, Esplanade Holiday Fest, Bayou Boogaloo, and FSJNA’s annual fundraiser, Voodoo on the Bayou. The money raised is used to support implementation of community programs and advocacy throughout Faubourg St. John. All of the FSJNA board members always have and continue to serve on a voluntary basis.
Additional information about the activities of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, Inc. is available online at:
Our Yahoo Group website: http://fsjna.com/.
Our public website is located at www.fsjna.org.
FSJNA works to maintain the parks and playgrounds in our community, helping a cash-strapped city to stay beautiful. The links below feature some of what we have been able to do:
Fortier Park: http://www.viddler.com/explore/katrinafilm/videos/15/
Trees planted in 2007 and play equipment at Desmare Playground:
Olive Stallings Playground Play area:
In 2011, FSJNA planted thousands of iris bulbs along the banks of Bayou St. John.
FSJNA also fertilized trees in the area.
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The City of the Future
Meanwhile, enterprises ranging from Mr. Chill‘s barbershop to Renee Brown’s Bayou Brew Wellness Tea used seed money to rise up and prosper. Seven years ago, the city’s population stood at less than half its pre-Katrina total (455,000). Today, it’s 79 percent of the prestorm total – and growing.