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Home >> Pre Katrina Home >> Orleans Parish >> Bywater District >> Florida Development >> 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Although the information on this page is out-of-date, we are continuing to make it available, as it provides insight about this neighborhood pre-Katrina.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 As a result, you may find outdated information and broken links.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.

Florida Development Neighborhood Snapshot

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

In recent years, many housing developments in New Orleans have undergone massive renovations and redevelopment. The numbers from the 2000 Census for this neighborhood are no longer accurate. Please check with the Housing Authority of New Orleans and the Florida Resident Council for the most current status.

According to a June 2004 personal interview with Resident Council President, Diane Conerly, as of that date 20 of the old Florida Development buildings remained between Law and Dorgenois Streets. Florida Avenue to Law Street had been demolished. And there were 68 residents in the approximately 133 newly constructed duplexes and townhouses. Some of the former Florida residents have returned.

Wagner Act

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.

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

  North Broad underpass at Florida Avenue, April, 1952 [Alexander Allison Photograph Collection]

In 1937, New Orleans became the first city in the United States to benefit under the Wagner Act. Florida Avenue Development was the fourth of six low-rent public housing developments in New Orleans that were funded by the Wagner Bill. Under the provisions of the contract signed with the United States Housing Authority, the Florida Avenue Development was to be used exclusively for war workers for the duration of World War II and was to revert to the local Housing Authority after the conflict.

The Florida Avenue Development was erected on a sparsely settled 18.5-acre tract of land bounded by Florida Avenue, Dorgenois Street, Congress Street, Law Street and Gallier Street. The area had been considered a squatter’s paradise for years along the tracks at the end of Louisa Street.

© GNO Community Data Center
Newly constructed housing, February 2002  

In addition, there were 110 occupied dwellings on the site when construction began. Between twenty and forty of the houses were salvaged and moved to other lots in the city because of the extreme housing shortage that existed in New Orleans at that time. Relocation of families ended in 1943. World War II ended before the project was completed, possibly because of the difficulty getting materials due to the war effort. War workers, therefore, never occupied the Florida Development. Initial occupancy occurred in 1946 after the war ended.

The Florida Avenue Development originally consisted of 500 dwellings and followed the traditional architectural principles for housing developments. Forty-seven two- and three-story brick apartment buildings are arranged around outdoor spaces used for courtyard, playgrounds, drying yards and parking spaces. They were self contained and at the same time isolated. The structures themselves were not constructed as well as the others built under the 1937 program because materials were not pre-war quality and not as durable. In 1953, 234 dwelling units were added. Title III of the 1949 Housing Act provided expansion funds.

In September 1965, Hurricane Betsy caused floodwaters to reach a depth of six feet in this area of the city resulting in the inundation of the lower apartments. The flooding added to the demise of the poorly built structures. The poor construction of the buildings has meant that maintenance of the buildings has been very costly. It is said that tenants often waited years to receive repairs they needed from the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

© GNO Community Data Center

  Construction of the new Florida Housing Development

Housing redevelopment

In the late 1990s,the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) began a major redevelopment effort at the Florida housing site. Phase I of the plan for redevelopment includes selective demolition of 194 units to reduce crowding, complete overhaul of 77 units and construction of 62 new units. Phase II of the plan includes the complete demolition of 500 units.

For more information...

Housing Authority of New Orleans’ web site about the Florida Housing Development

Housing Authority of New Orleans’ Jan 2002 update on their revitalization plan for the Florida Housing Development (scroll down to read about Florida)

1999 Land Use Plan New Orleans City Planning Commission

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).

Butler, Jack. "Po-boys in N.O." Arkansas Writer's Project, Inc. March 7, 1997.

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: June 23, 2004