Community Data & Info Share Center Banner

Home >> Pre Katrina Home >> Orleans Parish >> Algiers District >> Whitney >> Snapshot

This information is pre-Katrina.
Although the information on this page is out-of-date, we are continuing to make it available, as it provides insight about this neighborhood pre-Katrina.

Post-Katrina, we will not be making any changes or updates to this page. As a result, you may find outdated information and broken links.

For current data about New Orleans and its neighborhoods, visit our homepage.

Whitney Neighborhood Snapshot

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

Whitney is one of the older areas of the Algiers district. The neighborhood is mainly residential containing a mixture of single- and two-family housing.

This predominately African American low- to middle-incomecommunity of families is composed mostly of homeowners (Census 2000, Claritas 1999). Small business establishments are scattered throughout the neighborhood, and industrial use is mostly confined to the old Southern Pacific Railroad line and to the riverfront. There are few parks and playgrounds in the area.


Agriculture played an important role in the Algiers district's economy – during the 1850-1851 season, the area was home to six plantations.

As the city of New Orleans' grew economically and in population in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so did Algiers/Whitney. Irish, Italian and German immigrants and African Americans, escaping the crowdedness on the East bank, settled on the West bank.


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

  "Trains of the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western Railroad and the U.S. Military Railroad" circa 1865 [Louisiana Vertical File]

The railroad industry that affected all of New Orleans created prosperity for the Algiers/Whitney community in the late 19th century. The Southern Pacific Railroad yard became important as a source of jobs for those in the surrounding neighborhoods and, for some time, was the eastern boundary of development in Algiers/Whitney. The railroad yard extended from the river to the Parish line between Atlantic and Thayer Avenues. The railroad plant's wharf stretched for nearly half a mile along the West bank and depended on the river to ship and receive raw materials and finished products.

In the latter part of the 19th century there were scattered residences east of the railroad yard, but the area was mostly undeveloped. Between 1927 and 1949 limited development occurred, and construction of the Mississippi River Bridge in the late 1950s became the catalyst for more extensive development.

Historic landmarks and noted figures from the past

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

Clarence "Frogman" Henry on the left, in 1953.[The Buccaneer, L.B. Landry High School yearbook, 1955]  

L. B. Landry High School on Whitney Avenue was dedicated in October 1938 as a high school for African American Algerines. The school was named after Lord Beaconsfield Landry, a physician who practiced medicine in Algiers for nearly 30 years. He was a member of the famous Fisk Jubilee Singers, while attending Fisk University, and organized and directed the Osceola Five, a vocal group specializing in educational and religious musical programs, when in Algiers.

Clarence "Frogman" Henry, rhythm and blues performer and songwriter was born in Algiers in 1937. As a child, he followed his sister to her piano lessons, then took her place when she decided music was not for her. He attended L. B. Landry High School where he played trombone and was considered one of the "favorites" of the Class of 1953.

Frogman Henry's official web site

The principal of Landry at the time was Israel M. Augustine, Sr., the father of the late Judge Israel Meyer Augustine, Jr.

Read more about Mr. Augustine at the NOPL Notable African Americans site

Image courtesy
  An example of a second line

Second line and walking clubs

Algiers is home to a few of the many walking and second line clubs in New Orleans. One of today's more popular ones is the Algiers Steppers Social Aid & Pleasure Club.

While walking clubs were formed specifically as Carnival club groups, Second Line Clubs have another history. The Social Aid and Benevolent clubs supplied the only insurance for African Americans in the New Orleans area for many years. Later, when major insurance companies began cornering the market, the clubs continued the celebrations that were used to "advertise" their service. These clubs are what we call Second Line Clubs.

Read more about Second Line Clubs at

McDonoghville Cemetery

Technically in Gretna, a portion of the cemetery lies in the Whitney neighborhood in Orleans parish. John McDonogh established this burial ground in 1850 for his enslaved Africans. Buried in McDonoghville, he was the first Caucasian laid to rest in this cemetery. (See the McDonogh neighborhood for more information on Mr. McDonogh.)

Another noted figure interned in McDonoghville Cemetery is "Kid" Thomas Valentine. Valentine was an early traditional jazz trumpeter with a performing career that spanned 77 years. At age 14 he became a member of the Pickwick Brass Band, his father's band. In his early twenties, he moved from Reserve, Louisiana to Algiers where he was the major attraction in Elton Theodore's band. He is said to be one of the few musicians of the time not influenced by Louis Armstrong and the developing trends in jazz trumpet playing. He started his own band, the Algiers Stompers, who often toured Europe and Japan in the 1960s and were regulars at Preservation Hall. He continued playing in Algiers well into his eighties and died at the age of 91.

Louisiana Music Artist Directory with links to music by Mr. Valentine

1976 photo of Mr. Valentine

The "Algiers shooting" in 1980

As in other parts of New Orleans, Algiers/Whitney has had its share of police brutality. One of the most publicized events occurred after a white officer was killed in November 1980. Here is the account of civil rights attorney Mary Howell:

When a white police officer, Gregory Neupert, was found dead from a gunshot near the Fischer housing project in Algiers [Whitney] on the Westbank of New Orleans, conflict in the community was at the boiling point. And boil it did. "Within days people were calling in about people being harassed by the police, people being thrown up against the wall, young men being marched through the project with their hands up like prisoners of war in massive roundups," Howell says.

The Algiers incident culminated a week after Neupert’s death. Police had tortured two young black men, Johnny Brownlee and Robert Davis, at a swamp in a mock execution to force them to sign affidavits accusing two other black men, James Billy and Reginald Miles, of killing Neupert. On the basis of these affidavits, police stormed the homes of Billy and Miles, killing both men and Sherry Singleton, Miles’ girlfriend. Singleton, who apparently tried to hide at the time of the raids, was found nude in a bathtub.

"We got the call [from Singleton’s family] around noon that their sister had been killed," Howell recalls. "We were there by 3 o’clock that afternoon. We walked in. There had been no effort to secure the crime scene. The place was wide open. We were digging bullets out of the walls. There was bloody clothing all over the place. There was a whole series of things that we were totally unprepared for how to handle."

Howell served as attorney for Brownlee and Davis and for Herbert Singleton, Sherry’s brother, who also had been beaten by police in an effort to get information. She also represented the interests of Cornell, Sherry Singleton’s 4-year-old son, who witnessed the killings. In all, there were 16 plaintiffs in the Algiers case. "Those people were traumatized for life," says Howell.
After six years of legal work, a significant settlement from the City of New Orleans was awarded in these cases, and three officers went to prison for abusing Algiers residents during their probe. But no officers were indicted in the deaths of Billy, Miles and Singleton. (from the article "The Advocate," in the Summer 2001 issue of Tulanian)

In June of 1981, protestors took over the office of the mayor, then Ernest "Dutch" Morial. The community's response to the "Algiers shootings" contributed to a restructuring of the police force, including the resignation of the police superintendent, a $3.5 million settlement against the city, the installation of 911 emergency telephone service, and the creation of the Office of Municipal Investigation (OMI) to investigate citizens' complaints of police or other city employees misconduct.

Morial Administration: 1982-1986

Human Rights Watch: Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States

For more information:

1999 Land Use Plan New Orleans City Planning Commission

New Orleans Public Library's River exhibits

Algiers: The Right Bank, Part V

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

Home >> Pre Katrina Home >> Orleans Parish >> Algiers District >> Whitney >> Snapshot



The Community Data Center website is a product of Greater New Orleans Nonprofit Knowledge Works. Copyright © 2000-2. All Rights Reserved.

Last modified: October 4, 2002