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This information is pre-Katrina.
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Gert Town Neighborhood Snapshot

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

Gert Town has long been home to hard working residents, light industry, and one of the city?s most prestigious institutions, Xavier University.

When was Gert Town first developed?

The area now called Gert Town was once part of the large McCarty Plantation. In 1833 the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company purchased land and many of New Orleans? most important railroad lines ran through what was to become Gert Town. Finally in the late 19th century, parts of this area were divided up into residential lots, homes built and the neighborhood was established.


© GNO Community Data Center

  Clockwise starting in upper left: Blue Plate Mayonnaise, World Shipping supply company, Coca-Cola Building and the Carrollton Post Office.

According to the 1920 census, there were about 1220 persons living in the neighborhood. By 1949, about 8700 dwelling units had been constructed. The 2000 census reported a population of only 4,748 with 1,876 housing units (18% of which are vacant), indicating that the area has declined as a residential neighborhood. But it has remained the center of much light industry, the headquarters of several businesses, and the home of the expanding Xavier University campus.

Gert Town is the home of historical jazz sites

In the early 1900s, Johnson and Lincoln parks became important jazz sites in New Orleans when many African Americans moved to Gert Town and staged ?cutting contests? there. Cutting contests were informal musical matches between bands to win over audiences. Famous contests took place in Gert Town in 1905 between Buddy Bolden's hot, uptown band and John Robichaux's smooth, downtown orchestra.

Both Johnson and Lincoln parks have been redeveloped and are still the sites for many parades.


Artist Mark Andresen © Offbeat Magazine.

  OffBeat's 1999 Festival Poster and the Jazz Fest cover image for the same year is an image of Allen Toussaint.

Allen Toussaint born here in 1938

Singer, pianist, songwriter, and producer, Allen Toussaint has been making hit records since the late 1950s. He has recorded four solo albums and performed on many famous tracks including Dr. John?s "Right Place, Wrong Time" and Labelle?s "Lady Marmalade," while his horn arrangements were featured on " Paul Simon?s "Kodachrome." Some of the best known hits penned by Toussaint include: "Mother-in-Law," "Working in the Coal Mine", and "Southern Nights." He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and is cofounder of NYNO Records, a music company devoted to bringing the indigenous music of New Orleans to the world. Toussaint is revered for his distinguished record in public service, consistently devoting his talents to a variety of community and charity programs including New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness, an organization he co-founded with Aaron Neville.

NYNO Records

New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness

The Golden Star Hunters Mardi Gras Indians


Photo by Marc Weitz. Courtesy of
  Big Chief Larry Bannock dresses for the parade.

The Big Chief of Gert Town's Golden Star Hunters Mardi Gras Indians is Larry Bannock, a 51-year-old carpenter, welder and handyman. On Mardi Gras morning, Mr. Bannock steps out of his shotgun home in a resplendent, flamboyant turquoise costume complete with a towering headdress, and leads his neighbors through the streets of Gert Town shouting, drumming, singing and dancing.

Read more about the Golden Star Hunters

New Orleans based journalist Rick Bragg won a 1996 Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles on American life, one of which featured the Golden Star Hunters Mardi Gras Indians of Gert Town.

The Masking of Mardi Gras Indian, article on

More background on the Mardi Gras Indians

What makes Xavier prestigious?

Xavier University ranks as the top school in the nation in the number of African American students earning undergraduate degrees in biology, physics and the physical sciences, number one in pharmacy degrees awarded to African Americans, and number one in placing African Americans in medical schools. It is the only historically Black and Catholic university in the country.


© Xavier University Archives. From

  Xavier University Administration building, built in 1933.To learn more aboout Xavier's history, visit their History page.

Xavier has accomplished these things without significant means. And it continues to stay true to its historic mission to serve capable minority students, including those whose potential achievements have been hindered by financial problems. The New York Times Selective Guide to Colleges has observed, "Xavier is a school where achievement has been the rule, and beating the odds against success a routine occurrence."

Xavier University, founded in 1915, moved to the area when St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of Blessed Sacrament bought a tract of undeveloped land and built Xavier's gothic administrative building (now a city landmark) at the corner of Palmetto and Pine Streets in 1933.  St. Katharine Drexel was canonized by Pope John Paul II in October, 2000, becoming the the second native-born United States citizen to be declared a saint.

Some more interesting things...

The Daughters of Charity Health Center located in the Carrollton Plaza Shopping Center provides access to health care to the residents of Gert Town. The center offers on-site physician services, a licensed retail pharmacy, a laboratory, and x-ray services for a sliding scale fee.

Gert Town Records is located at 8359 Fig St., records New Orleans musicians like Charmaine Neville, New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, and poet Andrei Codrescu.

Additional sources

National Park Service’s New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park

Xavier University

Encyclopedia Louisiana

NYNO Records bio of Allen Toussaint

The Catholic Health Association of the United States

Gert Town records

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).

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: April 27, 2005