Central City languishes just a short walk from the glitzy Superdome

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The former Myrtle Banks School on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in Central City was auctioned off in April of 2011. In June 2012 the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority issued a loan for the redevelopment of the property. Plans for the property included a marketplace, but no progress is evident. Photo by Steve Beatty.

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.

The former Myrtle Banks School on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard was auctioned off in April 2011. In June 2012 the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority issued a loan to revive the property. Plans include a marketplace, but no progress is evident. Photo by Steve Beatty.

Two houses in varying stages of decay stand side by side on Clio Street at South Saratoga St. Photo by Craig Mulcahy.

Weeds and brush claim the lot next door while cat’s claw works into the eaves and attic of an abandoned house on Erato Street. Photo by Craig Mulcahy.

A mobile U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office has been abandoned along Poydras Street, a few blocks north of the Superdome. Photo by Craig Mulcahy.

A shotgun-style house on Clara Street, a block away from the Home Depot, has been elevated above flood levels. But the nearby vacant lot has become a dumping ground. Photo by Craig Mulcahy.

Weeds, vines and a banana tree bring a bucolic touch to a vacant lot a stone’s throw from the Superdome and the New Orleans Arena. Photo by Craig Mulcahy.

A makeshift refuse pile rises beneath the footings of  Interstate 10 and the Pontchartrain Expressway. Photo by Craig Mulcahy.

University Hospital, on Perdido Street at North Galvez, is an LSU teaching hospital soon to be absorbed into the city’s giant post-Katrina bio-medical complex. Photo by Craig Mulcahy.

 

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