Gert Town, New Orleans

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Gert Town
Gert Town, New Orleans, 3Feb 2019 66.jpg
Coordinates: 29°57′37″N 90°06′19″W / 29.96028°N 90.10528°W / 29.96028; -90.10528Coordinates: 29°57′37″N 90°06′19″W / 29.96028°N 90.10528°W / 29.96028; -90.10528
CountryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
Planning DistrictDistrict 4, Mid-City District
 • Total0.73 sq mi (1.9 km2)
 • Land0.73 sq mi (1.9 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.0 km2)
0 ft (0 m)
 • Total1,545
 • Density2,100/sq mi (820/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s)504

Gert Town is a neighborhood in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is the home to Xavier University of Louisiana and is a part of the Mid-City District.

Gert Town played a major role in improving the New Orleans area, through its streetcar lines and railways that contributed to the residential and community growth of the area. The Blue Plate Mayonnaise Factory, Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, Sealtest Dairy, and Thompson-Hayward Chemical Company were all fundamental manufacturing bases of the working-class neighborhood. Gert Town was also well known for being a center of development for jazz and other music genres. Musicians such as Buddy Bolden, John Robichaux, Merry Clayton, Bunk Johnson and Allen Toussaint all came from the neighborhood and helped shape the musical influence of New Orleans.[1]

Today, Gert Town is still undergoing changes and redevelopment in order to fully recover from the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Restaurants such as Five Happiness, Dunbar's Famous Creole Cafe, LA Smokehouse, and Gracious Bakery Cafe are all locally-owned restaurants that are contributing in the redevelopment of the neighborhood. Furthermore, its new nanatorium and New Orleans Police Department station also aid in strengthening its community redevelopment and reinforcement.[2]


According to the United States Census Bureau, Gert Town has a total area of 0.73 square miles (1.9 km2), all land. The neighborhood is bordered by several other neighborhoods including: Holly Grove, Mid-City, Fountainbleau and Gravier.[3]

Originally, this area was part of the Jeanne de McCarty plantation. This plantation was purchased by the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company in the 1830’s to extend the New Basin Canal.[4] During this time much of Gert Town was undeveloped and major streets of New Orleans were cut off from Gert Town.[5] The New Basin Canal was eventually replaced by the Pontchartrain Expressway.    

Gert Town did not start to establish independence as a neighborhood until the 1900s. During this time streetcars ran near Gert Town which fostered the growth of the neighborhood. The development of Gert Town was also greatly aided by Lincoln Park a popular spot for African Americans in the community.[4]

Today Gert Town is located in the center of New Orleans.[4] Gert Town’s streets run parallel to the Mississippi River, causing the streets to curve and wind. The City Planning Commission defines the boundaries of Gert Town as these streets: Palmetto Street, South Carrollton Avenue, the Pontchartrain Expressway, South Broad Street, MLK Boulevard, Washington Avenue, Eve Street, Jefferson Davis Parkway, Earhart Boulevard, Broadway Street, Colapissa Street, South Carrollton Avenue, Fig Street, Cambronne Street, Forshey Street, Joliet Street and Edinburgh Street.[6]   

Migration pattern and elevation[edit]

Gert town is one of the points of lowest elevation in New Orleans and currently ranges from 0 to -4 meters below sea level.[7] According to geographer Richard Campanella, “vertical migration” patterns, based on topographical elevation, appeared to have a specific trend from 1920 to 2000 in New Orleans[8]. There is no evidence suggesting that race was a factor of the vertical migration pattern, but as time went on, New Orleanians appeared to move from areas of higher elevation to lower elevation. Between the years 1920 and 1930, areas of low elevation such as Gentilly, Lakeview, and especially Gert Town experienced great increases in population while areas of high elevation such as Marigny, Treme, and Lee Circle simultaneously experienced decreases in residential populations. Hiwever, the above-sea-level population in New Orleans decreased from approximately 90 percent in the early 20th century to approximately 38 percent in the start of the 21st century.[8] Following Hurricane Katrina, there was an increased percentage of the New Orleans population living at higher elevations, but it was more so due to slow re-population of more drastically affected low-elevation areas in opposed to social preference of high elevation living.[9]


Xavier University of Louisiana is located in the northern corner of the neighborhood, while a commercial strip lies along the section of Carrollton Avenue running through the neighborhood. In the 1990s, a portion of the facade of the Sealtest Dairy building was preserved and incorporated into a new post office. Other small businesses are scatted along Washington Avenue; until Hurricane Katrina, Ultrasonic Studios was one of them.

In the mid 20th century, a manufacturing district developed around Jefferson Davis Boulevard, including the local Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Art Deco landmark Blue Plate Mayonnaise factory. Manufacturing in this area declined in the late 20th century and was largely ended after the post-Katrina flooding. The businesses along Jeff Davis Parkway that have succeeded in rebuilding include the studios of television station WVUE.

Other neighborhood landmarks include the Gert Town Pool, a public swimming pool in a domed structure run by the New Orleans Recreation Department. The Gert Town Pool was demolished by Mayor Landrieu's administration for Xavier University to eventually make way for a tennis court.[2]

Blue Plate Mayonnaise Factory[edit]

Blue Plate Artist Lofts

The Blue Plate Mayonnaise Factory, which closed down following Hurricane Katrina, is now known as the Blue Plate Artist Lofts. Blue Plate was one of the primary mayonnaise manufacturers in the country.[10] The creation of Blue Plate mayonnaise was influenced by Amelia Schlorer because Schlorer created her own mayonnaise recipe under a company named Schlorer Delicatessen Company. The success of her mayonnaise motivated the Wesson-Snowdrift Company to produce Blue Plate mayonnaise. The mayonnaise was originally produced in the city of Gretna until they moved the location to 1315 S Jefferson Davis Parkway in the small Gert Town neighborhod in 1941. Some people believe that the production of the mayonnaise came to a halt because of Katrina, but the factory stopped producing Blue Plate mayonnaise in 2000. Reily Foods Co. who was in partnership with Blue Plate found a more up to date factory in Tennessee which is why they stopped production in New Orleans.[11] Although the building suffered some damage in the hurricane, and was shutdown, its historic architecture has been replenished. Years after Katrina, the Blue Plate building was transformed into an artist apartment complex. The historical and cultural impact that the Blue Plate Factory has left on New Orleans is much deeper than the surface. The original structure of the building still stands so that everyone can be reminded of the influential impact that the Blue Plate factory left on the city. The once New Orleans' made gourmet condiment is now sold in Walmart and enjoyed by people all over the United States.

Lincoln and Johnson Park[edit]

Lincoln and Johnson Park

The two historical parks located in Gert Town are Lincoln Park and Johnson Park. They are adjacent to each other and are located near Earhart Boulevard, where Carrollton Avenue intersects. From 1902 to 1930 both parks were amusement parks where local families gathered. These amusement parks consisted of a skating rink and hot-air balloon rides available on occasional weekends. However, in present time, Lincoln Park is now known as Larry Gilbert Stadium where youth sports are held. Johnson Park has now transitioned to Cuccia-Byrnes Playground, where annual youth activities are fund-raised.[12] In the early 1900s Lincoln and Johnson Park were designated for the African American population.[13] Although the parks did only seem to be of recreational purposes, their main attractions were for entertainment, jazz music specifically. Both parks have had great significance in terms of jazz music in New Orleans and the genre of music in entirety.[12]

Famous jazz musicians who performed at Lincoln and Johnson Park were Buddy Bolden, Bunk Johnson, and Freddie Keppard.  Many other featured performances were done by the orchestra of John Robichaux. The most notable performer of the parks was Buddy Bolden, who often battled against other musicians at Lincoln and Johnson Park.[13] The contributions of the parks to Gert Town and jazz music still remain in how jazz music evolved using a unique improvising style, which was first exhibited at Lincoln and Johnson Park.[13]

Waldo Burton Memorial Boy's Home[edit]

Waldo Burton Memorial

The Waldo Burton Memorial Boys Home is located on 3320 S Carrollton Avenue, very close to the campus of Xavier University of Louisiana. The Waldo Burton Memorial Boys Home was built by William L. Burton in 1918, who named the Home after his son William Waldo Burton. This home was originally an orphanage for young boys in the 1920s until the 21st Century.

Now it has transitioned into a retirement home for the elderly. The Waldo Burton Memorial Boys Home is still standing to this day surrounded by trees, and lots of nightlife, even through Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters to hit Gert Town.[14] Currently community service is provided to the elderly whenever high school or college students apply to help. In Gert Town there are not many landmarks that stand out and that are known around Louisiana and or the New Orleans area. So in this immediate vicinity of Gert Town, this is one of the few old and historic places that is known to this community. There were many names for the home such as the Orphan Boys Asylum, or Asylum for the Relief of Destitute Orphan Boys.[15]

Xavier University of Louisiana[edit]

Xavier University of Louisiana

Gert Town’s most prominent landmark is Xavier University of Louisiana, which was established in 1925 and is the nation’s only Historically Black Catholic University. Xavier was founded by St. Kathrine Drexel, an educator and philanthropist. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana leaving Xavier under 6 feet of water.[16] Hurricane Katrina was a category 5 storm and it decimated Xavier’s student enrollment. The student population decreased from 4,100 students to 3,000 students.[17] The campus was flooded with water for 2 weeks. It took nearly 5 months and 80 million dollars from the federal government and private donors to help reconstruct the campus. Important buildings such as the Norman C. Francis Academic Science Complex and the University Center had to go under demolition to repair the buildings. In the spring semester of January 2006 Xavier University opened back up.[18]


The most commonly accepted explanation for the neighborhood's name is that it is a corruption of "Gehrke's Town," Gehrke's being a general store that was located at Carrollton & Colapissa which around 1900 was a local gathering place and had the area's only telephone.[19] Originated after the man himself Alfred Gehrke who in 1893 contributed to the community by providing a convenient store, which during this time was located at the corner of Carrollton Avenue and Colapissa Street, for the residents. Alfred's corner store was also considered a "hot spot" at the time, this because it was more of a meet and greet where many people of the community can come and socialize. The store was also the only area that had an accessible telephone.

In 1900 the "Tulane St. Charles Belt" streetcar line opened including the Gert Town section of Carrollton Avenue in its route, spurring development. Starting in 1902, Lincoln Park and adjacent Johnson Park were popular with African Americans in the era of racial segregation; the parks featured a skating rink, balloon ascent exhibitions, and dancing to the music of such notables as Buddy Bolden and Bunk Johnson.

Gert Town's odd street pattern is the result of earlier land development that reflected the bends in the Mississippi River. With a lower elevation than other areas, the area was once part of the swampy "Back of Town," and major streets stopped before entering the area. After some marginal residential development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, older Uptown streets that were perpendicular to the river tended to meet in Gert Town and Mid-City. Many of the narrow side streets in Gert Town remained unpaved longer than those in other neighborhoods.

This fairly small area was further cut off by the New Basin Canal, which was located where Interstate 10 is today. Because of its location, in some ways Gert Town seems to have been overlooked throughout its history; poverty and crime have been recurrent problems, particularly in the later twentieth century.

Like the majority of the city, Gert Town flooded from the levee failures in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Except for a few sections along major thoroughfares like Carrollton Avenue and Davis Parkway, recovery remained slow five years later, but was improving by the end late 2010s.

Gert Town is now one of several strategic zones designated by the city for redevelopment and community reinforcement.

Thompson-Hayward Lawsuit[edit]

In 1931 one acre of land in Gert Town was purchased by the Thompson-Hayward chemical company. The facility opened a year later producing wet pesticides and wet and dry herbicides. Because this was an important piece of land, many people wanted to control this area. From 1931 to 1986, three corporations purchased this land. It went from the Thompson-Hayward chemical company to the TH Agriculture and Nutrition Company and finally, the Harcos Chemicals Inc. This plot of land went from housing wet pesticides and herbicides to only dry products to storing chemicals and several cleaning supplies.[20] This chemical factory provided jobs despite the odor and dust. As the years progressed the factory was told to cease production and the release of chemicals outside by Louisiana Department of Environmental quality (DEQ). This resulted in the building being torn down, but the toxic chemicals seeped into the bricks. The toxic chemicals escaped through water and air ventilation. This caused many people to develop several symptoms from minor headaches to death.[20] This angered many people, and they filed a lawsuit. This lawsuit went on for months until a settlement was agreed on. The defendants were forced to "pay $51.575 million into a single fund that would compensate the plaintiffs."[4] Overall, Gert Town was affected greatly by the addition of the chemical factory.



Gert Town is a small, densely populated area in the middle of New Orleans. Between the years 2012 and 2016, approximately 54% of the neighborhood population was living in poverty. [2] Although the area is heavily impoverished, of the 3,614 people living in the area, 41.6% of Gert Town's residents are employed,[3] on the contrary to the 34.1% employment before Hurricane Katrina.[1] The small area of Gert Town, New Orleans is occupied by a large young demographic.[4] In this small town, a majority of the employed are teens and young adults, working in food services,[2] but before the 2005 hurricane, the Gert Town neighborhood was known for its contribution to the cities electrical industry. [5]

Pre-Katrina Population[edit]

The population of Gert Town has been of low numbers since its founding around 1900. On the other hand in regards to the race and ethnic population of the city, the numbers have been slightly different based on the majority of race within the area. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the population of Gert Town was predominately African American with very few other ethnicities in the area.[21] African Americans accounted for more than 90 percent of Gert Town's population.[22] Whereas, all other ethnicities aside from African Americans were below about three percent. Following the destruction that occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the percentage of African Americans became about 80 percent.[23] Other ethnic groups rose to approximately ten percent of the overall population. These other ethnic groups include Caucasians, Hispanics, and Asians.[23] There was a decrease in the majority percentage population of African Americans within the Gert Town community following Hurricane Katrina which allowed for the leveling out of ethnic groups to begin to live in the area. Gert Town is a city considerably small in number, but as the economy begins to grow so does the amount of different ethnic groups that reside in the city.[24]

This information is mainly about pre-Katrina population numbers. Before Katrina, Gert Town was at its highest population in the 1940s with about 8,700 people.[25] However; the 2000 census shows the population declined to 4,748 people. The reason for this decline in population is unknown. Gert Town, in particular, doesn't appear to have a lot of information about population changes between the years of 1950 to 2000.[26] However; records have shown that after Katrina, the population experienced another decline and has not gotten back to the pre-Katrina numbers since. The vertical migration patterns explain in more detail how the population changes and when and where people were moving to. Gert Town was not completely renovated after Hurricane Katrina. Sources say that this may be the reason for Gert Town's population decrease. More information about post-Katrina population will be provided below, along with households, ethnic groups, educational status, and ages of the general population. More detailed information about how Katrina affected Gert Town will also be provided. The Post-Katrina subsection will provide more recent population data from the years 2010 to 2016.

According to American Community Survey, there are three primary races reside on Gert Town: Black or African-American -78,9%; White -9,2%; Hispanic (any race) -6,8% and also, Asian diversity (2,1%) as well. The percentage of married households is-13%, and one-person owner composes -47%.[27] The total number of households, in obedience to 2010 in Gert Town is 1,060.[28] When evaluating the development of household characteristics and population in the Gert Town area, specificity of the terms is important.  According to the Census, family is understood as people who live together in relation to one another. Whereas household are all individuals that occupy a housing space.[29] Prior to Hurricane Katrina, household characteristics in Gert Town were more abundant than now.  According to the Southeast Louisiana Data Center, the number of people who lived in the Gert Town area in 2000, pre-Katrina, was 4,748 people, compared to the 4,221 people between the years of 2012 and 2016.[30] The data implies that the events of Hurricane Katrina influenced a decrease in population. It is also clear that there were social changes with in the town. For example, prior to Hurricane Katrina, there were only 8.0% of households that fit the American standard, which represents a married couple with children.[31] In those households, the children were under age 18. After the events of Hurricane Katrina, a house fitting the American standards only made up 7.0% of the Gert Town households, as of 2010. Data also suggest that the total housing units decreased from 1,876 in the year 2000, to 1,524 between the years of 2012 and 2016.[32]

Post-Katrina Population[edit]

In 2005,Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans, and because of Gert Town’s low elevation and its previous pre-Katrina damages, the neighborhood was vastly affected.[33] Prior to the hurricane, Gert Town was inhabited by 4,748 people,[34] since then, there has been a decline in the neighborhood population to about 3,614 people due to the destructive natural disaster that hit the city of New Orleans. [35] Between the years 2012 and 2016, approximately 54% of the neighborhood population was living in poverty. [36] Although the area is heavily impoverished, of the 3,614 people living in the area, 41.6% of Gert Town's residents are employed.[37] This is an increase from the 34.1% residential employment before Hurricane Katrina.The small area of Gert Town is largely occupied by a young age demographic.[38]A majority of the employed residents are teens and young adults, working in food services,but before the 2005 hurricane, the Gert Town neighborhood was known for its contribution to the cities electrical industry.[39] In the 1999 planning of this neighborhood, a majority of the land was to be turned into a commercial light industry so that it could not only help the city of New Orleans but also provide jobs for the area.[40] The population of Gert Town after Hurricane Katrina was severely affected.[41] In Gert Town, 27.8% of people do not have a high school diploma. That being said, 32.4% of the population has a High school diploma or equivalent of one, 39.2% have attended college but have not earned a degree, 4.9% have an Associate’s degree, 4.0% have a Bachelor’s degree and 1.3% have a Graduate degree.[41] 54.5% of the population are considered to be in poverty.

Racial & Ethnic Diversity of Gert Town
Ethnicity 2000 2012-2016
African American 94.5% 78.90%
White 2.9% 9.20%
Asian .5% 2.10%
American Indian .0% 0.10%
Multiple Races .6% 2.8%
Hispanic 1.3% 6.8%

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,614 people, 1,060 households, and 564 families residing in the neighborhood. Prior to Hurricane Katrina household characteristics in Gert Town were more abundant than they are today. The population of people who lived in the Gert Town area in the year of 2000, pre-Katrina, was 4,748 people.[42] Compared to the population of 4,221 people between the years of 2012 and 2016.[42] The context of the data exemplifies that the events of Hurricane Katrina influenced a decrease in population. It can be seen in the data that there were effects on the structure of households. Prior to Hurricane Katrina there were only 8.0% of households that fit the American standard, married couple with children. In those families, the children were under age 18.

Age of Gert Town Citizens
Age 2000 2013-2017
4 years of age and under 5.5% 7.5%
5-9 years old 5.8% 5.0%
10-14 years old 5.5% 3.4%
15-17 years old 3.4% 3.5%
18-34 years old 42.6% 51.6%
35-49 years old 15.9% 11.8%
50-64 years old 10.7% 11.0%
65-74 years old 5.2% 4.5%
75-84 years old 3.5% 1.3%
85 years old and older 1.8% .4%


Influence on Hip-Hop and Jazz[edit]

Second Line Jazz had originated in Gert Town where racism, poverty, and a high crime rate was overwhelming. Second Line Jazz in Gert Town motivates the citizens for a better tomorrow for both themselves and their community, despite the daily realities such as poverty. A passage from the article describes how Second Line Jazz is a passage of opportunity for not only the "Jazzworld" (Culture of Jazz), but for people struggling to make a living on the streets.[43]

Anthropologist Helen Regis states how Second Line Jazz parades in neighborhoods such as Treme, Central City, and Gert Town since it generates dancing in the streets and is inviting for everyone in the area to join.  She also states how Second Lines in communities such as Gert Town that are affected by racism, poverty, and high crime and mortality rates assist in promoting and maintaining hope in spite of the harsh daily realities they have faced, such as Hurricane Katrina, or continue to face to this day.[44]

Gert Town's poverty-stricken neighborhoods had helped create the foundation of Hip Hop. From these neighborhoods arose bounce DJs who represented the neighborhoods of where the foundation of Hip-Hop came from by calling out their names in specific songs. Hip-Hop brought fame and fortune to the area by representing what hope and desire Gert Town has for its communities, people, and its future as a historical area filled with musical culture.[45]

Bounce DJs, specifically Partners ‘N’ Crime, had songs such as “New Orleans Block Party" that represented their communities of where they were from – one of them being Gert Town.[46]

Local Musicians[edit]

Charles "Buddy" Bolden was a pioneer of the early sound of jazz. Buddy was a prominent trumpeter and is hailed as the king of jazz. Born in 1877 dying in 1931[47] in New Orleans very little is known for sure about his early life. In the early years of his playing with his band fusing the styles of music, he heard ragtime blues and gospel creating the culmination of these genres to create jazz. A lot of credit with the founding of the jazz art form was his iconic playing in Lincoln Park. Was an iconic meeting ground for people in early Gert Town. This is where we see the concrete connection to Gert Town. Lincoln park[48] was located at Carrollton Avenue and Fern, Forshey, and Oleander Streets with located near another iconic park for African American. It is said the buddy would play his trumpet or cornet and would call crowds from Johnson Park and the surrounding areas of Gert town and New Orleans to him playing in Lincoln park making him a true icon for gert town inspiring a Jazz and the people of New Orleans.

Willie "Bunk" Johnson was a jazz trumpeter from Gert Town, whose contributions left a significant impact on the Jazz genre. Johnson started his musical career at age six and continued until he began his professional music career at age fifteen.[49] Johnson’s first professional job was under jazz pioneer Charles "Buddy" Bolden, and he later went on to play professionally in numerous bands that toured Japan, Australia, and South America. Beginning in the 1920’s, Johnson held most of his music operations in Southwestern Louisiana, and he eventually moved from New Orleans and settled in New Iberia. After settling, Johnson's career took a turn in 1932 after being involved in a bar fight that left him jobless because he lost his teeth and destroyed his trumpet. So, he began to rely on manual labor jobs so that he could provide for himself. This left him off the scene of Jazz until 1938 when Jazz enthusiast/historians found him toothless with no musical output in New Iberia. The historians revived his career as they established relations with the former musician and gave him donations that led him to return to New Orleans, acquired a set of false teeth, and play professionally again. After rectifying his career, he produced over fifty recordings and achieve both musical and cultural celebrity status.[50] The status he received was a direct impact of his style of play which ignited the New Orleans Jazz revival (in the U.S and around the world in countries such as the UK). But Johnson’s impact on the genre occurred even after his death (July 7, 1949) as a New Orleans band he assembled, which was later led by, George Lewis (Clarinetist), as they played the style of Jazz that he played that reflected the musical and cultural traditions that led to the birth of Jazz. In the U.S., this revival led to the creation of commercially- viable style called Dixie Land, and in England, it led to a hybrid genre called skiffle which was seen in later bands such as the Beatles.[51]



Dunbar’s Creole Cuisine is a native Louisiana, family-run restaurant re-established by Celestine Dunbar in 2017.[52] Before its location at 7834 Earhart Boulevard, the restaurant was originally called Dunbar's Creole Cooking and found on Freret Street; however, the roots of the establishment started at a local deli off of Oak Street before the big move 1986.[52]

During the 1970s, Mrs. Dunbar took over the duties and responsibilities of the deli across the street from her home when the owner fell ill. Each day she would cook the meals needed at home and bring them over to the deli. As time passed the business gained more traction and consistent customers who knew of Dunbar and her home-cooked meals. Consequently, she finally decided to open up a bigger restaurant of her own. This establishment would open in 1986 on Freret Street and be called Dunbar’s Creole Cooking. It didn’t take long for the restaurant to receive praise and recognition not only from native New Orleans residents, but also from supporters worldwide. Dunbar’s Creole Cooking was featured in various magazines such as Southern Living and the Gourmet.[53]

Just as many other places, the restaurant was greatly affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Dunbar lost her entire business and didn't have the insurance needed to cover the expenses to rebuild and replace all that was wiped out. Fortunately, Dunbar remained hopeful and chose to take her business mobile and go to Loyola Law School's food court in 2006. At this location, she grew her clientele with university students and faculty.[53] She even participated in numerous festivals and other events until she finally found a new location to rebuild her restaurant.[52]

The final and current location Dunbar found was on Earhart Boulevard, on the edge of Gert Town. After an extensive process, the new and improved Dunbar's Creole Cuisine had its grand opening on April 7, 2017. Countless loyal supporters were ecstatic about the return of the beloved restaurant and now it has become a hot spot for many.[53] Dunbar's Creole Cuisine still stands in Gert Town and continues to draw people in from far and wide with its unique fusion of modern Creole cuisine and home-made country Louisiana meals. [52]

Gert Town Festival[edit]

After Katrina, Gert Town was torn apart. Many residents were forced to leave and the community itself was lacking resources. Schools, churches, and other businesses were abandoned. To rebuild Gert Town, many residents gathered under tents and booths, on a hot Saturday, to hold their first Gert Town Festival in 2010. The festival was a way to start reforming the community and to raise awareness for the needs of the community. The community made "strong relationships with adjacent neighborhoods, which include Hollygrove and Fontainebleau, among others."[54] Families from all over were welcomed and taken in.

The events still go on to this day, hosted by the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission and Fit NOLA Parks. The parks hoped to "increase the use of neighborhood parks and provide access to healthy foods in underserved areas." Giving the families a chance to have a fun day, while also helping the community get back on their feet. One Saturday in June, the people of Gert Town gather for a second line in the park. The second line is led by Da Truth Bass Band and then the fun begins.[55] Many community organizations, students, and local artists, such as Dj Captain Charles provided entertainment. Free food, drinks, and games for all ages are provided. Gert Town's festival brings back the joy the community once had.

Mardi Gras Indians[edit]

Larry Bannock (February 16, 1948- April 30, 2014), also known as “Big Chief Larry Bannock”, is a Mardi Gras Indian from Gert Town who grew up on Edinburgh St. Bannock began Indian masking with the Gert Town crew “Golden Star” in 1972. He continued rising in rank where he eventually became Big Chief of the tribe in 1979 and renamed it the Golden Star Hunters who he also referred to as the 17 Hounds.[56] Big Chief Bannock and his tribe were Mardi Gras Indians, one of the oldest cultural traditions brought to New Orleans from African tribes.[57] As the chief, Bannock lead his crew and demonstrated his creativity through the Indian costume designs and performances that he exhibited. Bannock knew how to bead and sew Indian suits, often teaching and sharing his skills with others in his community.[58] In the 1980’s he became one of the first Indians to receive a grant to teach the sewing tradition of Mardi Gras Indians. His costume designs were heavily influenced by African Americans. Indian suits are preservations of African American folk art and are representations of New Orleans’ complex culture.[57] These colorful beaded suits are hand-sewn all year long before they are paraded around the streets of New Orleans and shown off while singing, dancing, and chanting folk songs. Bannock received national notoriety in 1980 when he toured the world with one of his hand-sewn suits selected by the Smithsonian Institution to represent the culture of Mardi Gras Indians.[58] Bannock was the past president of the The Mardi Gras council where he shared his knowledge on Indian traditions and culture.[59] The African drumming traditions in the Indian tribes combined with the traditions of the New Orleans brass bands have had an influence on jazz in New Orleans. Many Indian gangs support the bands of traditional second-line parades or jazz funerals with percussion instruments.[57] Bannock and The Golden Star Hunters were annual performers at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, until he passed away three days after his appearance at the festival in 2014.[58] Bannock also represented Gert Town by being a voice for political and social issues in his community. In 2012, Bannock was interviewed for a piece called “Outsiders Prey on Gert Town” where he reflected on how the results of paying taxes is not felt in the Gert Town area. When Bannock died, the impact he had on his community was felt through the large audience that was present, and his display of Indian costumes.

Notable people[edit]

In addition to the musicians described above, other notable New Orleanians from Gert Town include the comedian Garrett Morris and the singers Merry Clayton and Tami Lynn.

See also[edit]


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