Marigny, Bywater, and Holy Cross follow the Mississippi River as it flows downstream. Parallel to them on the lake side of St. Claude Avenue are the neighborhoods of St. Roch, St. Claude, and the Lower Ninth Ward. Marigny, bounded by Esplanade and St. Claude avenues, Press Street, and the river, was laid out by Barthélemy Lafon for Bernard de Marigny in 1806 to a plan drawn up earlier that year by engineer Nicolas de Finiels, which called for twelve houses to a block and a public space called Washington Square. Initially Marigny, like Tremé, was populated mainly by free people of color. St. Roch, laid out in 1834, was named for the cemetery (OR49) and chapel at its core.
Bywater, between Franklin and St. Claude avenues, the Industrial Canal, and the river, initially housed mostly German, Irish, and Italian immigrants who arrived in great numbers beginning in the 1840s. In the twentieth century African Americans settled in this neighborhood of modest houses. The Beaux-Arts classical memorial arch (1919) in Macarty Square commemorates local war veterans. Press Street, originally Cotton Press Street, was the city’s first thoroughfare paved with concrete, built to support the weight of wagons loaded with cotton bales. Holy Cross, once an area that housed truck farmers, dairies, and commercial gardeners, lies downriver from Bywater across the Industrial Canal. Jackson Barracks (OR60) forms the downriver boundary of the neighborhood and of New Orleans.
These neighborhoods have retained the intimacy and small-scale character of their nineteenth-century origins. While Marigny mostly has Creole cottages and shotgun houses, the latter are characteristic of Bywater and the less dense Holy Cross. In 2014–2015, the river edge in Bywater was converted to Crescent Park (OR53) and surviving rice, sugar, and cotton-press sheds have been converted for other uses, some as artists lofts. Marigny began to be gentrified from the late 1970s, as have the Bywater and St. Claude neighborhoods following Hurricane Katrina.
The neighborhoods on the lake side of Bywater and Holy Cross developed in the mid-twentieth century, primarily with the arrival of African American residents. But inland from the river and at a low elevation, these areas were inundated with water during Hurricane Katrina after the levee along the Industrial Canal was breached by an unmoored barge. Rebuilding continues. Several streets in the Lower Ninth Ward became the focus of actor Brad Pitt’s Make It Right (OR57) reconstruction campaign.
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