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Lake Terrace & Oaks Neighborhood Snapshot

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

This neighborhood is rich with history about one of New Orleans’ most hopping entertainment districts. Now it includes the University of New Orleans and two of the wealthiest subdivisions in the city.

Some of the Lakefront’s jazz and entertainment history

At one time, the Milneberg settlement was located on the land at the end of Elysian Fields. In 1830 when the Pontchartrain Railroad connected the Faubourg Marigny with this settlement, it consisted only of a couple of hotels, bars and a few houses.

Courtesy of the Tom Morgan Collection, Jazz Roots:

  Sheet music for "Milenburg Joys" showing the misspelling of Milnebug.

When the Milneburg pier was built, New Orleans residents started building small wooden houses on stilts (which they referred to as “fishing camps” or just “camps) around Milneburg.

Around 1870 the “Smokey Mary” began carrying passengers to Milneburg to hear some of the city’s early jazz at the many honky-tonks, dance halls and bandstands that had sprung up at here. These included Morgan's Saloon, the Joy Club, Romer's Café, The Inn, Quarelles, Nick's Restaurant and dozens more.

The Milneburg resort area continued to be popular through the 1930s, and many of the city’s early jazz greats played there, including Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and Danny Barker. This resort area is commemorated in the song “Milneburg Joys” (often misspelled as “Milenberg Joys”) written by Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton, Leon Rappolo, Paul Mares. The song was recorded by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings with Jelly Roll Morton, and also by Leon Roppolo & the Friars Society Orchestra, and most recently by Pete Fountain.


© Stanley Beck (

Milneburg Lighthouse, a popular old meeting place.  

But, in the 1930s the Levee Board and WPA implemented lakefront reclamation plans that included demolishing the many camps, and building bathing houses and a reinforced shoreline. By 1941, the Milneburg resort was gone except for the old Milneburg lighthouse, which still stands today.

New Orleans Lakefront Reclamation

Prior to the 1920s, much of the rest of the lakefront was marshy swampland comprised of scattered fishing shacks and camps. In an effort to develop strategies for providing improved levee protection from flood disasters, the Louisiana legislature named Colonel Marcel Garsaud to be Chief Engineer of the Orleans Levee Board in 1924. He was commissioned to plan and implement the reclamation and improvement of the lakefront.

In 1928, a plan was adopted that included provisions for a public park area between the lake drive and the lake, recreational features and residential development with one section of homes fronting on the lake. The principal reason for the adoption of this plan was its potential for becoming self-supporting. In 1926, prior to the adoption of the plan, pumping and draining of the swamps as well as seawall construction began.

By 1930, work on the lakefront plan began. The new lakeshore consisted of a stepped concrete seawall built 3000 feet from the shore with a filled area raised five to ten feet. Above the lake level were a beautiful public waterfront, beaches and parks. The transformation of the lakeshore allowed for the construction of the Lake Terrace and Lake Oaks subdivisions.


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

  Men of the 182nd General Hospital board Higgins boats for a trip across the lake, 1944. [Higgins Eureka News Bulletin]

Higgins boat testing

With the advent of World War II, this land became part of the New Orleans Naval Air Station and was used as a training facility, as well as a test site for the boats constructed by Higgins Shipbuilding. Higgins built many boats used during World War II. The Navy abandoned the property after the war to the state.

The Orleans Levee Board leased the bulk of the site to the Louisiana State University system, which opened LSU-New Orleans.

University of New Orleans

The University of New Orleans opened in 1958 as Louisiana State University in New Orleans until the name change in 1974. It transitioned from being a tw0-year to a full four-year university in 1961. In 1964, in addition to the enlargement of the physical plant, the curriculum was expanded to include six academic colleges, a graduate school and an evening division. Although the name of the university changed to the University of New Orleans (UNO) in 1974, it is still a part of the Louisiana State University system.

UNO continues to grow and expand and today occupies nearly 350 acres on the lakefront in addition to leased property at several satellite locations in the metropolitan area.

Pontchartrain Beach postcard, 1960s.For more information about Ponchartrain Beach, see the New Orleans History – Lake Pontchartrain website  
Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park

After World War II, a section of the property that fronted the lake was leased to the Batt family who developed it into an amusement park with rides from one end of the mid-way to the other, including a big wooden roller coaster called the Zephyr.

In the 1970s, Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park was considered the largest thrill park in the south. Unfortunately, Pontchartrain Beach was closed in 1984. This old amusement park just couldn’t compete with slick theme parks like Astroworld and Disney World, as well as the World’s Fair, which came to New Orleans in 1984.

Image courtesy New Orleans Public Library ( Permission for reuse required.
  Pontchartrain Beach amusement park from the air, 1940s.

The rides were dismantled and sold to other parks and the Zephyr was scheduled to be demolished when Aaron Broussard, then Mayor of Kenner, took it to a new home across the street from the Kenner Court House, along with some other Pontchartrain Beach memorabilia. It is still there today for those interested in a nostalgic moment.

Descriptions of Lake Terrace and Lake Oaks subdivisions

The Levee Board opened Lake Terrace in 1953. This area is bounded by Lake Pontchartrain, the London Avenue Canal, Robert E. Lee Boulevard and Bayou St. John. The area has 93 acres of park space. In 1964, Lake Oaks was opened, which was bounded by Elysian Fields Avenue, Music Street and New York Street.

Lake Oaks is smaller than Lake Terrace and conforms to the traditional linear arrangement of streets. Houses are built on rather small lots. A park area near Lakeshore Drive offers picnic and playground accommodations for the neighborhood.

With the opening of Lake Terrace/Lake Oaks, plans for lakefront development were fulfilled. The reclaimed lakefront realized its potential with additional housing and naturally beautiful recreational open space for the city.


The University of New Orleans website
Learn more about University of New Orleans’ history, academics, student life, library, arena events, and admissions.

Laborde, Errol “Ride and Seek; Pontchartrain Beach – 15 Years Later.” New Orleans Magazine. August 1998, p 128.

Description of jazz at the Milneburg resort area

At New’s description of the Milneburg Lighthouse (old Pontchartrain Beach light

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).

For more information:

Realtor Tommy Crane’s web site

1999 Land Use Plan New Orleans City Planning Commission
Read more about the development of the Pontchartrain Beach and UNO area

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 5, 2002