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Within the past few years, the Afro-Louisiana Historical and Genealogical Society erected a plaque on the neutral ground at the intersection of Esplanade and Chartres.
Ornate mansions shoulder modest shotguns shoulder squat Creole cottages all along its reach. Here, ghosting beneath the residences, is the former site of a complex of slave pens—private jails that housed slaves before they were sold off to planters—that made up one of the city’s most active slave-trading sites from 1840 to 1862.
Before the Civil War, New Orleans was the largest slave market in America, and the French Quarter riverfront was the center of activity.
As Esplanade leaves the Quarter behind and makes its way toward City Park, it intersects Claiborne Avenue.
Claiborne’s traffic roars by both at ground level and along the elevated highway, Interstate 10, propped along its spine.
Historians believe residents were less able to mount a successful resistance to the proposed highway along Claiborne Avenue (in contrast to the concentrated effort put forth to prevent the one proposed for the French Quarter around the same time) in part because city officials, through various logistical maneuvers, kept local residents from attending planning meetings, and community leaders were focused on other pressing Civil Rights-era issues.
By the time work on the highway was completed in 1968, nearly 500 mature oak trees had been removed from the neutral ground between Canal Street and Elysian Fields Avenue, and the construction of three sets of ramps meant that hundreds of structures had been demolished.John, a small waterway along the eastern edge of City Park. To locals and visitors alike, its iconic status is obvious on a sensory level.Conceived of as both a transportation corridor and a residential “garden suburb” for the city’s Francophone elite, the Esplanade of yesteryear was a bustling thoroughfare, teeming with mule-drawn omnibuses and pedestrians, peppered with restaurants, parks, and pleasure gardens. But other elements of Esplanade’s history are no longer immediately discernible.Claiborne Avenue developed, in part, as a response to the segregated Canal Street commercial district nearby, and quickly became the retail corridor of the Treme and Seventh Ward neighborhoods.Circle Food Store, the first African-American-owned and -operated grocery store in New Orleans, opened in 1938, and though it struggled to reopen after Hurricane Katrina, it is still in operation at the intersection of St.Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Bayou Road was known for its concentration of free people of color who owned numerous lots along its diagonal reach.Near its intersection with Esplanade, Le Musée de f.p.c.Oak-lined, bisected by a grassy median locals call a “neutral ground,” studded with multicolored homes of all shapes and sizes, the avenue has been iconic for centuries.In the 1830s, Esplanade was extended in segments from the river’s edge through a succession of , or plantations, to Bayou St.However, beginning in 1829, slave traders were legally bound to board slaves outside of the Quarter due to public health concerns surrounding the overcrowded and squalid conditions of many of the slave pens.So those enslaved people who were not sold immediately upon docking were sent to pens that popped up along the Quarter’s edges—like the one located at the downriver, lakeside corner of Esplanade and Chartres—where they were given new clothes and increased rations, and forced to exercise (all to increase the traders’ profits) until planters came to the pens to inspect and decide who to purchase.