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Iberville Development Neighborhood Snapshot

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

The Iberville Development was built on the site of “Storyville,” one of the most famous jazz districts in New Orleans history. Although at one time Iberville was the home to servicemen and later working class families, the exodus of industry from the inner-city plunged housing development residents into deep poverty. At an estimated household income of $7,279, today Iberville is one of the poorest neighborhoods in New Orleans (Census 2000).


Storyville, the area just lakeside of the French Quarter, was the legendary “red light” district of New Orleans.

Ironically, Storyville was named for alderman Albert Story, who fought to have prostitution banned from all other New Orleans neighborhoods. Prostitution operated legally there from 1897 to 1917, but music was equally prominent in Storyville.

  An early photograph of Storyville

As sailors on leave in New Orleans visited Storyville, they became familiar with the new music form known as jazz. Some brothels had a jazz pianist and, in addition, there were many clubs and restaurants in Storyville where jazz was played, such as Pete Lala's, the 101 Ranch, the Fewclothes Cabaret, the Tuxedo Dance Hall, and the Big 25. Storyville reigned over New Orleans nightlife for over two decades, and through visiting sailors helped to expose the rest of the country to jazz.

Pretty Baby

Storyville was the birthplace of the song Pretty Baby by Tony Jackson. The famous photos by E.J. Bellocq of Storyville prostitutes were published in a book called Bellocq: Photographs from Storyville, the Red-Light District of New Orleans. Later, these unique photographs were the inspiration for a movie also called Pretty Baby starring Susan Sarandon and a very young Brooke Shields.

In 1917 the Secretary of the Navy declared Storyville off limits to all servicemen and insisted that the district be shut down. Restaurants and bars in the neighborhood began to go out of business and many buildings went vacant. By 1940, ninety-five percent of the houses were considered substandard.

Development of Iberville

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.
  Housing Project, June, 1952 [Alexander Allison Photograph Collection]

In the depths of the Great Depression, many families became homeless and many others were at risk of homelessness. Nationwide, there was great concern about this situation, which led to the passage of the United States Housing Act of 1937. The Housing Act, also known as the Wagner Bill, instituted the United States Housing Authority within the Department of the Interior. Its mission was to provide public housing for low-income families. The Housing Authority was to contract with local housing officials to construct dwellings. New Orleans became the first city in the United States to benefit under the Wagner Act. The Iberville Development was the third of six low-rent public housing developments in New Orleans that were funded by the Wagner Bill.

Almost all Storyville structures were removed for the construction of the development. The relocation of the 817 families that lived there took over four months. Ironically, the Iberville Project was originally intended for white servicemen. Shortly after Iberville was complete, eighty-seven families of non-commissioned army and navy officers were temporarily housed in the project.

Iberville today consists of seventy-three two and three story dwelling units containing 858 apartments, and it is considered one of the smaller housing developments in New Orleans. The Housing Authority of New Orleans is currently working to substantially modernize the Iberville Development.

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.
  African American children in St. Louis Cemetery #1, February 15, 1901 [Cornelius Durkee Photograph Collection]

St. Louis Cemetery #1

The Iberville development neighborhood is also home to the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery #1. Built in 1789, when New Orleans was under Spanish control, this cemetery used the wall vault system that was popular in Spain at that time. This method was also practical, because graves below ground had to be very shallow – because of the high water table, caskets would actually float. The richest families had the most ornate tombs, almost like little houses with cast iron fences.


Marie Laveau's Tomb  

But unlike other New Orleans cemeteries where the tombs are laid out in straight rows like streets, the St. Louis Cemetery #1 is a twisting labyrinth of narrow walkways. St. Louis Cemetery #1 inspired Anne Rice novels, was the site of a famous scene in the movie Easy Rider, and is the final resting place of several famous New Orleanians. In this cemetery can be found the tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Also at rest here is Homer Plessy, a Creole man who boarded a white only railroad car in 1892 in violation of Louisiana state law at that time. His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the famous Plessy vs Ferguson case that institutionalized segregation in the south for the next 60+ years.

Also buried here is Mayor Ernest (Dutch) Morial. Ernest Morial was a business graduate of Xavier University and the first African American graduate of LSU law school. He worked diligently to defend civil rights activists in the 1960s and he once served as the head of the New Orleans chapter of the NAACP. In 1977 he was elected the first African American mayor of New Orleans.

Read more about Homer Plessy

Who's links to information about Homer Plessy from Afro-American
Almanac and World Book's African American Journey


Read more about Ernest (Dutch) Morial

Brief bio of Ernest Morial courtesy of Marc N. Morial

Southern Institute for Education and Research

St. Louis Cemetery #2

In 1823, St. Louis Cemetery #2 became the fourth cemetery built in New Orleans. It is graced with many elaborate monuments of Italian granite and marble. Many accomplished Creoles and free people of color from the nearby Treme neighborhood created the ornate gates and railings for which the cemetery is famous.

Courtesy NOPL ( Permission for reuse required.

Photo of Rudolph Lucien Desdunes (1849-1928) from Nos Hommes et Noir Histoire  

Buried here is Rudolph Lucien Desdunes, author of Nos Hommes et Noire Histoire (Our People and Our History) who died in 1928. His book celebrates the literary, scientific and artistic accomplishments of New Orleans people of color. Mr. Dedunes was a civic leader who helped to organize the Comite des Citoyens, which supported Homer Plessy’s attempts at legally challenging segregation in public transportation.

Another famous person of color buried in St. Louis Cemetery #2 is Captain André Cailloux who died fighting for the United States army in the civil war. Known as an American Spartacus by people of color, abolitionists, and northern newspapers, his funeral in New Orleans drew an enormous crowd and he became a mythic hero even after his death.


  Artist's depiction of Captain Cailloux's funeral procession  

According to historian Stephen J. Ochs:

"In unprecedented numbers, both slaves and free people of color lined the principle downtown streets of Federal-occupied New Orleans on Wednesday, July 29, 1863.They congregated that day, much to the chagrin of most white New Orleanians, to bid a final farewell to one of their own: Captain André Cailloux of Company E, 1st Louisiana Native Guards. Cailloux was the first black warrior-hero of the war and an officer in the first black regiment to be officially mustered into the United States Army and to engage in a major battle. He had fallen on May 27, 1863, while courageously leading a doomed charge of the Native Guards against an impregnable Confederate position defending Port Hudson, Louisiana.”

Read more about Captain Cailloux and the people of color who fought in the Civil War: American Spartacus’: Captain André Cailloux of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards

In 2001, an equally impressive funeral procession hit the streets of New Orleans when Ernie K-Doe was buried in St. Louis Cemetery #2. Recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, Ernie K-Doe’s passing was a loss to New Orleans entertainment. According to The Passing of a Legend - Ernie K-Doe, 'Emperor of the World':

“New Orleans said good-bye to charismatic rhythm and blues icon Ernie K-Doe as only the Big Easy can - with a traditional jazz funeral procession and wake ... Thousands of friends and fans lined the route of the jazz processional from the funeral to the cemetery. Before and behind the horse-drawn cortege, jazz bands marched and played, while followers twirled colorful umbrellas, in a ritual which is unique to New Orleans.”

The Save our Cemeteries organization was formed in 1974 to save St. Louis Cemetery #2 from being demolished. This group now raises money to restore the most precious and under funded cemeteries of the city.

Save our Cemeteries official website

On All Saints Day (November 1) relatives gather in St. Louis Cemetery #2 to uphold a long-standing New Orleans tradition. They remember their dearly departed by cleaning, repainting and repairing the vaults, and placing new flowers at the mausoleums.


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).

National Park Service’s site of historical musical areas

Lonely Planet’s brief history of New Orleans

HANO’s plan to modernize Iberville

Explore New Orleans

Dr. Von Zuko's Weird n' Spooky Places

Louisiana’s Department of Culture and Recreation

Passing of a Legend - Ernie K-Doe, "Emperor of the World"

New Orleans Public Art Project's information about Memorable Places

For more information:

Masters of Photography - E.J. Bellocq

Haunted New Orleans History web site

Sex and the City

City of the Dead: A Journey Through St. Louis Cemetery #1 by Robert Florence.

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: November 4, 2002