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Algiers Point Neighborhood Snapshot

Census 2000 Data Tables: People & Household CharacteristicsHousing & Housing Costs, Income & Poverty, Transportation, Employment, Educational Attainment, Immigration & Language, Disabilities, Neighborhood Characteristics

The Algiers side of the Mississippi River has for a long time been the Port's "support" side of the East Bank. The West bank built and repaired ships, provided mooring and bunkering, and ran towboats that pushed lines of barges. Algiers was also home to industries that needed the river and prospered because of their location along its banks, notably the Southern Pacific Railroad plant.

Algiers Point, named for Algiers Bend, a sharp right angle turn in the Mississippi, nestles against the levee that confines the river. This neighborhood holds the flavor of a step back in time with its shotgun houses, Creole cottages, Victorians trimmed in gewgaws (a showy trifle), and Greek Revival townhouses. Sitting directly across the river from the foot of Canal Street and the French Quarter, its schools, churches, corner stores, library and courthouse serve the neighborhood as they have for generations.

Some of its History

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.

  This print, probably from the 1830s, shows the city from the Algiers shore, with the spires of St. Patrick's and the First Presbyterian Church and the dome of the St. Charles Hotel visible on the east bank. [Louisiana Division Print Collection]

Algiers Point was part of Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne de Bienville's original 1719 land grant. In 1721, Adrian de Pauger, the engineer who laid out the streets of the French Quarter, took a pie-shaped piece of Bienville's land for himself. A legal battle ensued and the courts returned the land to its original owner.

A "slave corral" was housed on the Point and enslaved Africans were sold from it to the colonists. During the Colonial period, Algiers Point was also the site of the French colony's slaughterhouse and was sometimes called Slaughterhouse Point.

After changing ownership many times, the land was eventually sold to Barthelemy Duverje and was known as the Duverje plantation. Their plantation home stood at the site of the present Algiers Courthouse and was constructed in 1812. The family donated land for a church, school and cemetery. In 1848, the first Catholic parish on the West Bank was organized, under their leadership.

Algiers' shipbuilding tradition began in 1819 when Andre Seguin bought land from Duverje and established a shipyard. The first dry dock in Algiers, operated by the New Orleans Floating Dry Dock Company, was brought from Paducah, Kentucky in 1837. By the end of the 1840s, there were eight boat-building companies in the area.

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.

"The ferry system serving the left and right banks of the Mississippi River dates back at least to 1820, and continues today under the aegis of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Crescent City Connection Division." [Louisiana Postcard Collection]  

Good Times and Bad

In 1827, the ferry began transporting people between Algiers and New Orleans proper. Farmland gradually turned into a growing community where most residents could trace their livelihood to the dry dock industry, lumberyards or iron foundries in Algiers. In 1840, the town of Algiers was laid out on the former Duverje plantation.

Economic and population growth occurred in the late 1800s, following the Civil War, due to the ferry, various commercial industries, and the railroad yard that extended south from the Mississippi River to the Parish line between Atlantic and Thayer Avenues. Additionally, with much of the city of New Orleans still an undrained backwater swamp, freed enslaved Africans and immigrants from Ireland, Germany and particularly Italy, at this time, settled on the few available areas of higher ground. Algiers Point was one of those areas.

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.
  "On October 20, 1895 a small fire managed to grow into a general conflagration. The front page of the Daily States tells the awful story and catalogs the community's losses." [Algiers Exhibit]

A devastating fire in 1895 in Algiers Point destroyed 250 houses, leaving 20 scorched acres. As a result, although some buildings of earlier styles survived the blaze, the majority of housing stock today consists of shotgun doubles, constructed after the fire.

A Musical Flavor

In the early part of the 20th century, Algiers Point was known to jazz musicians as "Over da river" and "Brooklyn of the South." A thriving neighborhood of coffee houses, bars and saloons, and a "red light" district drew a clientele of seamen and local workers, who wanted, in addition to "wine and women," musical entertainment.

Classically trained musicians (many of whom were Creoles) and members of marching, military style brass bands had been in Algiers for some time. Several plantation communities like "Magnolia" had trained brass bands, like the Eclipse Brass Band of 1900-1917. These bands played in Carnival parades, at dances, for picnics and other types of social gatherings.

With the advent of jazz, many African American and white musicians moved into Algiers and New Orleans. Some of those Algiers musicians were Red Allen, Peter Bocage, Norman Brownlee, Oscar "Papa" Celestine, Louis Douroux, Bill Eastwood, Emmett Hardy, Murray Henderson, Lord Beaconsfield Landry, Manuel Manetta, Oscar & Milton Marcour, and Kid "Thomas" Valentine. According to a brochure published by the Friends of the Algiers Courthouse and Old Algiers Main Street Corporation, "Even those who gained fame had to work day jobs in shipyards, iron foundries, lumberyards and the railroad yards of Algiers."

"Over Da River" is Algiers Point article

More on Oscar "Papa" Celestine

More on Murray Henderson

More on Lord Beaconsfield Landry

A Historic Neighborhood

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.

"The Robinson Atlas, published in 1883 from surveys made several years earlier, provides us with an overview of Algiers as it appeared just a few years after annexation by New Orleans."  

In Algiers Point, there are entire streetscapes hardly altered since the turn of the 19th century. Rows of shotgun doubles compose the majority of housing stock while churches or schools often occupy the corners. Mount Olivet is a simple country church and the oldest in the area, in use since before the Civil War. Algiers Methodist was constructed in 1921 in a Colonial Revival style. Holy Name of Mary is an example of 1920's Gothic.

The old Duverje plantation home was used as the courthouse prior to the fire of 1895. The home was destroyed in the fire and the Algiers Courthouse was constructed on that same site in 1896. The chiming of the present-day courthouse clock on the hour adds a touch of charm and serenity to the neighborhood.

The New Orleans Public Library Algiers Point Branch opened in December 1907. It is one of five libraries in New Orleans that was built due to a grant from Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy northern philanthropist, and is one of two of the Carnegie libraries still in operation. In 1965, this Italianate style building was severely damaged by Hurricane Betsy and the library was closed. After renovations, it was reopened in 1975.

Algiers Point streets were named after the leading families of New Orleans during the 1700s (Verret, Vallette, Olivier, Delaronde and Lavergne) and their daughters (Elmira, Eveline, Eliza and Alix).

The art festival, home tours, Octoberfest and Christmas Bonfire on the Levee are among some of the many family and community events that take place in Algiers Point today. Adding to the feeling of a small-town neighborhood is the sprinkling of small commercial establishments, parks, churches and schools in the area.

Industry Along the River

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.
  Major ship repairs require the use of dry docks and Algiers has been home to a number of them over the years. Today, you can check out the dry docks at the Bollinger yard.[LA Postcard Collection]  

A number of industrial establishments use the Mississippi River to conduct operation and transport goods. One such company, the Bollinger Shipyards, Inc., has about 50 employees from the New Orleans area at its Algiers site. Started in 1946, this family-owned business is a "provider of marine repair and conversion services and . . . provider of new construction services to the energy, commercial and government marine markets in the Gulf of Mexico region."

Read more about Bollinger Shipyards

The "official" Bollinger Shipyards site

For more information:

"Welcome to Algiers Point."

Relocate New Orleans, Algiers Point

Welcome to Algiers Point

River Exhibit: Algiers

New Orleans Public Library. Algiers Point Branch

Notable African Americans from Louisiana

National Park Service. New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, New Orleans Jazz Neighborhood History Map

National Park Service. New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, A Brief History of New Orleans Jazz

1999 Land Use Plan New Orleans City Planning Commission, , Chapter Two

Neighborhood Profiles Project Document prepared by the City of New Orleans Office of Policy Planning and the City Planning Commission. Published December 1980. Study available at the Williams Research Center (non-circulating collection).

Young, Tara. "Historic Neighborhoods: Algiers Point," Times Picayune - Real Estate Section, 9/29/01, pp. 10-15.

Garvey, Joan B. Beautiful Crescent. New Orleans, LA: Garner Press, Inc., 1984.

Wood, Lacey. "To the Point: Exploring Old Algiers." New Orleans Magazine, June 1998, p. 84.

Algiers Point Association. "History of the Algiers Point Neighborhood." Ride the Free Ferry to Algiers Point Historic Neighborhood brochure.

Kevin Herridge. "Ride the Free Ferry 'Over Da River' to Old Algiers" brochure. The Friends of the Algiers Courthouse and Old Algiers Main Street Corporation.

Census 2000 Data Tables: People & Household CharacteristicsHousing & Housing Costs, Income & Poverty, Transportation, Employment, Educational Attainment, Immigration & Language, Disabilities, Neighborhood Characteristics

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Last modified: October 4, 2002