The last few months have seen a flurry of activity in downtown New Orleans, with most of the improvements focused on the area between the Superdome and the French Quarter.
The new Loyola Avenue streetcar, a $45 million project, took center stage last week, with elected officials jostling for face time while aboard the 1.5-mile inaugural run.
Using the Superdome as the center of the compass, a scenic two-mile walk will take you past the heart of the French Quarter, with restaurants, bars, shops and activity every step of the way.
A much shorter walk takes you to a very different New Orleans: Central City and the adjacent Tulane-Gravier district. Here, residents still struggle with the double-whammy dealt by Hurricane Katrina and generations of poverty.
The evidence of economic vitality includes the colossal bio-medical complex and the new Home Depot outlet, a post-Katrina project back in the spotlight, what with former Mayor Ray Nagin ’s recent indictment. The 21 counts of alleged corruption portray a mayor far more attentive to his own business opportunities than to the needs of these or any other New Orleans communities.
On Central City’s Clio Street the rails of a long abandoned streetcar are still visible beneath the macadam. The Clio line, also known as the C-L-10, connected Central City with New Orleans’ Uptown district by way of Claiborne Avenue. But service ended in 1932, according to historian Michael Mizell-Nelson.
As these pictures demonstrate, you’re still within sight of the Superdome, but have no doubt about it: The tracks may be nonexistent, but you’re on the wrong side of them.