New Orleans
Neighborhood Portraits


"Lakeview is a moderately wealthy neighborhood of frame cottages and brink ranch houses, the value of which have continued to increase since the 1960s. Seven schools and twelve churches of various denominations serve Lakeview. Street names, such as Robert E. Lee, General Diaz, Marshal Foch and General Haig, reflect local and national history." (from The New Orleans Data Center)

Jeb Bruneau, president of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association (LCIA) when Katrina hit

Q: Is it possible to say ‘post-recovery’ period in Lakeview now?

Jeb: Sure, we’re past 10 years. Right? So, absolutely. We changed generationally, it’s a younger neighborhood now.

Q: And the Air B&Bs, do you have much of that here? We haven’t seen much.

Jeb: Nah, I mean, we’re not that far from Jazz Fest, or from the Endymion parade route, so we probably have some of it, but it’s not pervasive, like in the Quarter, or certain parts of the city. It’s a lot. It’s a neighborhood problem for some neighborhoods, I know. In fact, Mid-City has some issues. It’s free market so that’s good, but it’s kind of messing up the integrity of the neighborhood, so that’s bad. But for Lakeview it’s not a big issue.

Jeb: When the storm hit we had a lot of folks 65 and older living in the neighborhood, but that oldest generation, a lot of the folks that really build the neighborhood, built the houses out here after World War II. Some people rebuild those, some people knocked those down and built new houses, some people put modern structures in here. But that older generation, we really lost those folks. If you were over 70 you probably went to live with a relative, or moved to Metairie, or went somewhere else.

There’s a whole new twenty-something, young families. And Harrison Avenue at night is not quiet at 9:30 or 10 o’clock at night like it used to be before the storm. It’s quite happening. We’ve had a lot of new businesses sprout up. This whole corridor that we’re on, we call it Middle Harrison, has been rezoned for some light commercial activity. So, we adopted the ‘main street program’ after the storm. And as a result, some more thought was put into planning of this part of the neighborhood and Harrison Avenue is really the commercial corridor of the neighborhood.

Brian Anderson, an architect and city planner,
is president of the Lakeview crime prevention district
and a past president of the Lakeview Civic Improvement Association

Jeb: Brian is currently the president of the crime prevention district. He’s a past neighborhood president as well.

Brian: By the time we moved back into this neighborhood [after the storm], we were early 30s, professionals just making enough money to buy into Lakeview, and pre-Katrina your options for Lakeview were, you could buy a vacant lot for $225,000, $250,000 or you could buy a lot with a very tiny little house on it for $300,000. [My wife] Jan’s parents were that middle group, in their 50s. And there was a huge amount of 75, 65, 85-year-old people in Lakeview pre-Katrina. The house flooded. We ended up tearing down. It took us four or five years before we finally got back.

I told my wife, I said, “if we’re going to live here, we’re not living on the North Shore, we’re not going to commute from Jefferson Parish; we’re going to live in Orleans [Parish].” And as an architect my business is basically centered around the city. So, when we moved back I wanted us to be in Lakeview, I wanted us to be in Orleans Parish. So, it was interesting, I guess, my difference from you [Jeb] is, your family has a lot of roots back in this area. Whereas Jan’s parents were the first of her family to move in. For me, it was more of, “okay, this is where I live. Let’s get ourselves incorporated into the neighborhood.” And then I started to realize what you were talking about, and what Jan had told me about. It was families. It was not just one family, two families, three families. People that cared deeply about living in New Orleans.

Jeb: Well my grandparents had lived in Gentilly, not too far from the racetrack on Onzaga Street, off of Gentilly Boulevard. And then sometime when my dad was in college, they built one of these little ranch-style houses off of 22nd Street and my mom was from Baton Rouge, so when she married my dad, my grandparents were here but they bought a house on 14th Street, and I grew up in that house till I was 7 or 8 years old and then we moved to Argonne [Boulevard].

Brian: You and I, when we moved in, we were the young group. But now we’re not the young group anymore. What’s interesting is, I think it’s our age group that really focused on the push to replace, with the guidance of some of the older people like Freddy Yoder, and your dad.

Jeb: Absolutely. And we had a few people that stuck around, that were maybe in-between us and that older group. 

Brian: That middle-aged, they stayed, and they were the leadership. And then the younger people were us, coming in, in our 30s.

Jeb: They were in their early 60s and a lot of them debated.

Brian: And it’s absolutely the leadership in the neighborhood is the reason this neighborhood came back. The people your dad’s age that were not in their 70s when it happened—

Jeb: Well, give credit to the schools and the faith-based communities too.

Brian: We lived next door to my wife’s family. That’s not something uncommon in this area.

Jeb: My dad is a block away, my brother is 10 blocks away, my father-in-law is eight blocks away, my brother-in-laws are five and six—

Brian: There were so many families in this neighborhood that generation after generation, I mean, you can easily have 3+ generations of the same family in this neighborhood. It is just that camaraderie, to this day I feel like we’re in a better situation as a neighborhood than a lot of others because we are so well-organized. And the Al Petrie’s of the world and Freddy Yoder’s’ and Jeb and those guys, they’re starting to take a backseat, but guys like me who came in two years after, who weren’t so burnt out were able to pick up and I basically just lean on the exact same structure that was built before me.

Jeb: The neat thing about Lakeview is you’re not all the way in the suburbs, but you’re not in the heart of the city either, so you get a little taste of both. You can walk to Jazz Fest from Lakeview.

Brian: It really is kind of a suburb. It’s the only real, in my opinion, really New Orleans suburb.

Jeb: So, the neighborhood now is younger, it’s more multicultural—

Brian: Very much so.

Jeb: More racially diverse than it was before the storm.


Brian: We’re doing a lot of stuff internally. We have our own system within the city, within, you know, and that works in our favor and it works against us. It works in our favor because we don’t allow big things to get above us. We’re in front of it. So, we are the head watchdogs for our neighborhoods. Because there’s a house mom on Louis XIV [Street] who calls me every day, there’s an older woman who’s retired who lives over on Vicksburg [Street], I talk to her all the time, so this group watches out for itself. But the other thing that we do, I think, a good job of, and we’ve tried each year to get better is, we have inserted ourselves and we’ve pushed a lot further into city government, because I think a lot of times the city looks at us and goes, “well Lakeview’s problems aren’t as bad as other people’s, so we’ll go focus on those problems.” And we’ve been trying our hardest to put an effort forth so that, “yeah, yeah, we could fix all these by ourselves, but we don’t want to.”


Brian: We’re starting to see newer restaurants come in and fill spots where other restaurants were because that restaurant’s product may not be what used to be, or Lakeview is getting better, you know, we’re getting better restaurants, we’re getting those types of—places like this that have been around for a long time that do good, they stick around, but we’re Chinese restaurants and Japanese restaurants.

Jeb: More diversity. It’s a very walkable neighborhood too. It was before, but it’s even more post-the-storm.

Brian: Yeah. And it is nice that we have this commercial corridor.

Brian: My background is in architecture, so I’ve taken urban planning classes, I’ve looked at sociology of neighborhoods, it was planned in the late ‘50s as a self-contained neighborhood. It is a self-contained neighborhood. And it’s crazy because now you’re seeing that as the new thing everybody wants to do. They’re building up north, these self-contained neighborhoods.

Brian: But this neighborhood wasn’t developed by affluent Uptown people who just wanted to get out the city. This neighborhood was developed by working-class people that were coming back from the war and wanted a place to live.

Jeb: Yeah. World War II.

Brian: Immigrants that were coming into the country, you know, so you’ve got a little bit of that. I think that working-class mentality is probably never list left this neighborhood. You know, so maybe that’s part of the reason.

Brian: So you were probably in your 30s when you move into Lakeview because you couldn’t afford anything in your 20s. You needed to be professionals, and you needed two incomes to afford the property or the houses. When Katrina came and all the house prices dove, there was an opportunity for many years that you could get into this neighborhood for very cheap.

Brian: The prices have risen now. So actually, now prices are where they were before, if not more. But because of that we got a large influx of twenty-something-year-olds, which are now 28 years old, 29 years old.

Jeb: Going into their early 30’s almost.

Brian: So, during the recovery, you had this steady stream of I’d say 45 to 55-year-olds that had the energy, they had the understanding, that could do it, and was the leadership. Then you had the younger guys, like Jeb and I, that were in our 30s, who had the energy, that were running, that were doing the work. That younger group wasn’t there yet.

Brian: And now you’ve got the ‘millennial group’ that’s moving in. I mean, you can’t walk down the street without seeing somebody pushing a stroller and there’s not just one kid in that stroller; there’s multiple children in that stroller. What I have noticed is though, I think that some of the younger group weren’t necessarily part of the … you know, Jeb and I have the pride when we walk down the street because we know it’s here because of us. Right?

Brian: We were on the lower end of that middle-class, you know, we were right on that bridge. Now you look around and this neighborhood is filled with lawyers and doctors, and you know—

Jeb: It’s professional people.

Brian: Professionals, teachers. And I think it’s partially now because it’s expensive to move into the neighborhood.

Brian: And the kids are coming back, but the grandparents were still here.

Stephanie Hilferty, Representative for Lakeview in the Louisiana House of Representatives,
and Joe Giarrusso, City Councilperson for District A, which includes Lakeview

Jeb: It’s much different than parts of Uptown where—

Brian: Old money, that’s been around for a long time. You don’t see that around here.

Jeb: Yeah. The power base of the city, but really, we didn’t have that leadership out here.  

Brian: And I’ve heard murmurs within circles, that that power group that used to be in that Uptown area, they’re not so happy about what’s going on out here because there is a lot more influence. We just elected a city council person that lives a block away from here, Joe Giarrusso. He’s a Lakeview guy. He was an LCIA President [Lakeview Civic Improvement Association]. And we’ve got we got Stephanie Hilferty, she lives right in Lake Vista, she’s a Statehouse representative. So, I think that this group is very well-organized. You are getting a little bit more affluence, you get doctors and lawyers, and the schools are very good.

Jeb: The Irish Channel the area. Have you been there? Some people are criticizing that that is gentrification, but I think it’s wonderful what’s happened in that neighborhood. They’ve—that was not a safe place to live and now—

Brian: We’ve kind of gone the opposite. It’s more diverse, it’s was probably more of a white working-class group. Now you’re getting much more diverse neighborhood so—

Jeb: I’d say it’s a little bit more affluent, but a little bit more diverse.

Brian: I used to joke we repelled people. If you are were strong and you were smart and you were talented you got the hell out of this area because there just weren’t opportunities, pre-storm. Now for the first time, we’re like the opposite; it’s a magnet. People are coming, people that are smart and educated and young and want to see things are coming. And I don’t see as much of them living in this neighborhood because I really think this is the neighborhood you move into when you start having children and you realize that safety is very important.

And there was tons of volunteers that came in and out of the city after Katrina. Thousands and thousands and thousands. All of these volunteers came in. Youth groups all over the country started sending these young kids: 17, 18, 16, 19. They’d come in, they’d spend their entire summer helping us. I can’t tell you how many kids I run across now that were in their late 20s, because I always ask people, “you’re not from here? How did you end up here?” Because it’s always a girl. Every time it’s a girl. It might be a guy on occasion, but it’s almost always a girl, because if you meet a girl from New Orleans she ain’t leaving her mama. That’s the rule. But I always ask people, “how did you end up in New Orleans?” And the answers I get was, “we came here in a youth group to volunteer and we stayed” or “I came back after I graduated.” Most of the young people that are not from the city, that are now coming into this city, are people that see opportunity that wasn’t there before, people that want to be part of something bigger than themselves, that want to get involved.

Stephanie: I live in Lake Vista, which is one of the neighborhoods right along the lakefront.

Brian: Whoever wins [the Mayoral election] will listen to the people in Lakeview. Probably the whole city now. Those days are over, the days of ‘I’m just going to close my shutters and do my job.’ That’s another interesting thing. I always talk with friends of mine that live in other cities, some big some small.  Birmingham, those, and they’re like, “you know your councilperson?” I’m like, “he lives around the corner from me.” They’re like, “you know your state house representative?” I’m like, “yeah, yeah.” You’re [to Jeb] good friends with our government, you know, our Senate house representative. And here everybody knows each other. That’s always the big joke about New Orleans. Everybody’s related to somebody somehow. In this city if you are going to be an elected official you have to get down and talk to everyone, so regardless of who it is who gets elected they know that they’re going to have to listen to what we’re saying.

Brian: and if you jump the canal right there, it’s Jefferson parish not Orleans, and it’s an interesting demographic because it’s the same kind of thing. There were a lot of older families and now younger families moving in.

Brian: If you go east of us and cross over into the other side of the Park, lots that were selling for 30, 40 or $50,000 are now going for 200. In the Oak Park area. So we are seeing now young couples that want to be in this area, who don’t want to live in the warehouse district, who don’t want to live in the French Quarter, who don’t want to live in Mid City, but can’t live in Lakeview anymore. now moving towards that area.

Brian: Gentilly will be the next one to see the rebirth, and it will be because Lakeview is full and the people are moving. I was talking to a girl the other day and she was telling me that she and her husband couldn’t afford to live in Lakeview. Three or four years ago she said she never would have lived in Gentilly. Now she has a home in Gentilly and said she loves it more than Lakeview.

Joe: I think there was a special time when people in our age group were buying too. From 2005 to maybe 2009 when the neighborhood was really being lifted up. Then people saw that Lakeview is back. And then maybe from 09 to 2012 is when people our age could really afford the neighborhood.

Brian: I tell people all the time the reason we moved out here is one: Jen’s parents are out here. But the reason we made the leap was because I lived Uptown. I loved Uptown but the only thing I could afford was a sketchy neighborhood. Things were getting stolen, the house was getting broken into. So if we were going to have a child, we weren’t going to live there, we were going to live here. And I think that usually happens right? You hit your late 20s and early 30s and all of a sudden you have enough money to afford to live somewhere and your starting to have children, and that’s what happens in this neighborhood. And I’m excited to see that what Lakeview has started starting to spread. It’s not just Lakeview. Holy cross reopened on Paris Avenue. The whole Gentilly thing.

Brian: When the grandparents were the first one and then their kids are old enough to buy. “I want to buy by mom.” And then their kids. And so it was this hidden secret. My wife used to tell it. I wasn’t from here. Jan knows everyone; she would go to grocery store  and know people. And now my daughter knows people. Because her friends, their parents are Jan’s friends. And so you can’t go talk to someone without them telling you, “Oh I remember that kid, I knew his dad too.” It’s not a hidden secret because people call me all the time, “I need to get into Lakeview.”

Stephanie: It’s going eastward and maybe some extent westward. People are looking at Gentilly and seeing it they can go there.

Jeb: In Midcity too. the other way. There’s definitely people want to live on the other side. There’s people that want to live in the city of New Orleans. Despite all of its issues, which our new city councilman will have to deal with. (Laughter)

Joe: Look how happy Stephanie was when he said that (chuckles)

Jeb: You also have the civic leaders. Rita LeGrand.

Brian: She was our blight Queen

Jeb: She was awesome.

Joe: She was the catch basin Queen.

Jeb: She’s like… If you were looking for a neighbor. Even at her age now, she’s still got the juice.

Brian: When I came in as president, there were a list of probably 20 blighted properties, and now there’s nothing.

Jeb: She’s part of that older generation that did come back. We lost almost all of them, but the ones that stayed …

Joe: I feel like there’s a generational divide along those lines, because you have some people like us who are young say “I love the idea that you can walk out in the morning and something is ready two minutes away. You could be the grocery store, you can get a coffee.

Stephanie: It’s a walkable neighborhood.

Joe: But other people are going, “but our neighborhood is sleepy and idyllic and quiet.”

Stephanie: Well you people that moved here, what they call middle Harrison, they moved here when it was still a sleepy stretch of road, relatively noncommercial, but now that blossomed, and so there’s always that push and pull.

Q: Let me ask you guys this. I’m assuming most people don’t work in this neighborhood. They live here and they are employed elsewhere.

Brian: We’re starting to see people like. Lawyers are trying to get back in the neighborhood.

Q: The question is where are people working? Is it in the city or is it Metairie.

Stephanie: I’d say it’s a combination. I don’t know from a percentage standpoint, but I work in Metairie and my husband works in New Orleans, so… We kind of go opposite directions.

Brian: But yeah people who can’t afford in this neighborhood now are jumping to [the Oak Park area, on other side of City Park, in Gentilly], and I’m telling you there are lots going over there for $150,000, which is very nice to see. Holy Cross moved in there, and they are really invested in that area.

Brian: You’re going to be very surprised. Those are some well laid out neighborhoods. A lot of those neighborhood have cul-de-sacs with parks in the middle of them. It wasn’t just like oh it was an afterthought and they started building them. That area was designed in the same way as Lakeview and Lake Vista

Q: I talked to them and they said the delayed growth was partly because business wasn’t willing to anchor. Leadership yes. They were big and sprawling there, but also that businesses weren’t willing to open. What’s the name of that strip mall that just wouldn’t open and wouldn’t open?

Group response: Lake Terrace on Paris Avenue.

Q: They were really upset about that. They were saying it was holding the neighborhood back.

Brian: It does.

Stephanie: That’s a fair argument

Jeb: Who owns that now though? The guy that held it up forever doesn’t own it anymore.

Stephanie: It went back to First NBC

Brian: It’s really true. You need the leadership. You need to people who are willing to move back. But you need the Robert’s [supermarket] of the world, the Lupos [Lakeview business family] of the world that are willing to bring you basic necessities. You don’t want to move somewhere where you can’t get.

Q: One of the first things that Denise Thornton told us. We interviewed Denise at the beginning. It was a total chicken and egg thing. If the retail didn’t come back, the people wouldn’t come back. And if the people didn’t come back the retail wouldn’t come back.  So they had to jawbone both sides to make it happen. The people in Gentilly were saying “that’s the missing piece for us.”

Stephanie: You need places for people to congregate.

Brian: But it is a chicken and egg thing.

Brian: I was the president of the Lakeview Civic Improvement on the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Jeb: (to Joe) Were you after him?

Joe: I was right after him.

Brian: Every year after Katrina we would have a ceremony. We would go out and throw a wreath in the water, and it would have large groups of people. And when the 10 year mark came around, everyone in the country wanted to come back. Anderson Cooper was calling. We were getting calls from everywhere. And we had a lot of internal debates in our group about what we were going to do. And an overwhelming majority said, “You know what, we are done. We’re done with that conversation.” And it was a big dispute. And we told everyone there, “This is it; were not going to do a wreath ceremony anymore.” We were going to stop bringing that up because at some point you have to leave it alone and move forward.

(Stephanie leaves)

Jeb: So I’m 47, how old are you?

Brian: I’m 42.

Joe: I’m 41.

Brian: So Stephanie is younger than all of us.

Brian: And she’s phenomenal. She’s one of those young people that came into the neighborhood, newly married, just had a baby, and she was running for her seat.

Jeb: She exemplifies that new generation of people that moved in here.

Brian: She unseated an incumbent who was about our age who had been there a long time. The fact that she did that shows that this neighborhood is changing in a lot of ways.

Jeb: We wanted proactive leadership.

Joe: But you’re starting to see that across government now. I said this the other day. We have a new city Council. Jason is 44; I won’t say Helena’s age. She’s in her early 40s. I’m 41. Jared is 35. Seth is 40, Jay is 57, and Chris is 50. That’s reflective of what we’re seeing.

At "Cue in the View," a barbecue at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in Lakeview

Dan Crowley, president of the St. Dominic Men’s Club

Jeb: Dan is president of the St. Dominic Men’s Club right now.

Dan Crowley: This is the second annual Cue in the View. It’s basically a barbecue event that people enter by their team and the event. They sell their food. All the proceeds go to the school for various projects around the school. This year we’re taking the money that we raise from this event and buying the kids a wrestling mat. This is going to be the first year that St. Dominic’s will have a wrestling team. So, the proceeds from this event will go to purchase the wrestling mat for the school. Last year, this is a pretty good note, all the proceeds went to our sister parish, the Mount Caramel Parish in Haiti, so we raised $14,000 that went to help the children affected by the earthquake in Haiti, specifically the Mount Caramel Parish.

Jason Pippenger with Jeb

Jeb: I want to introduce y’all to Jason Pippenger, too. Jason is like one of the architects of this whole thing.

Jason: Well what was great about this neighborhood is the community. And the ability to come back and recover. And a lot of that involvement entails putting on events that, for instance, I would say 90% of all of the teams here live within a 10-block radius. So, it’s bringing them together. A lot of their children go to school here, but bring them here so that the kids can see the parents involved. Now Craig is making sure we’re all involved and everybody sees the involvement and that’s what builds the community. So, you have a lot of people with similar thoughts, similar beliefs, similar actions. That’s what builds it and that’s what we’ve created here over multiple decades.

Jason: It’s awesome. And what’s great is, so my parents moved into Lakeview probably 1972. And they and other families perpetuated what you see here now. Like there’s a lot of families here, I’ve known Jeb for 20-some-odd years—

Jeb: My brother dated his sister when they were in high school together, 30 years ago.

Jason: It’s a great community. Everybody is involved. Our kids are seeing that and hopefully we’re training them through, what’s the word I’m looking for…through—

Jeb: Through familial community, you know.

Jason: Yeah.

Jeb: Your mom and dad are great examples. They were leaders of the neighborhood before the storm and still now to a degree.

Jason: Yeah exactly. So, my father is a Deacon of St. Dominic’s and he has been since 1996. Anyway, it’s encouraging to see that all our actions have reactions that are in a very positive manner.

Jeb: Don’t you feel like the neighborhood is totally regenerated?

Jason: What’s different is … So, Lakeview has started out pre-Katrina as very blue-collar. You can attest to this, blue-collar, both-parents-went-to-work neighborhood. It’s morphed into a very high-end, in some respects more of a….

Jeb: It’s young professionals, you know.

Jason: Yeah. So basically, before Katrina it was young professionals, growing up, and then they were aging out to about 50, 60—Katrina hit and now it’s like a resurgence and everybody is back, 20s 30s, coming back together. So, it’s interesting to see that dynamic.

Jeb: The neighborhood has regenerated. The housing stocks regenerated.

Jason: Right. We have a very healthy and strong Civic Association, which is a huge part of why what we’re doing now exists.

Jeb: It’s all symbiotic with the schools, the churches, the business community, and just like everything—

Jason: Absolutely.

Jason: And you have multigenerational families.

Jason: Yeah it is, but there’s no inbreeding!


Jason: I had to throw that out there. It’s just everybody knows everybody. Everybody is involved with everybody’s lives. Everybody is looking out for everybody and that’s what’s important and that’s what really build the community. In other parts of New Orleans that’s what needs to transpire to bring it to a safer environment.

Jeb: St. Dominic, the St. Dominic community, the school and the church. I kind of put them together. My kids didn’t go to school here, but I went to church here. It really was beyond whether you’re Catholic or not, whether your kids went to school here or not, this was a focal point of the community coming back. It really didn’t matter if you went to school here or if you were Catholic. It was just kind of like this was one of the—when I was president of the civic association, post-Katrina, we had a big citywide meeting here. And the Lieutenant Governor came, the Mayor came, chief of police came. It still had abandoned cars in the parking lot. A lot of people that came that were still angry; we had a mob here, like several hundred people. But this was the beginning of the Renaissance if you will.

Jason: Yeah.

Jeb: This was the meeting spot where we cried and laughed and got angry, you know, through Lakeview – just different—Lakeview Fest and different events, this is a focal point of neighborhood. Even when I was growing up we played softball here, you know. I remember getting a rainbow snowball right there—

Jason: Right! Exactly.

Jeb: For me this is like a victory lap because I saw us when we were completely devastated. Most of these people don’t know me, but that’s ok. I know somebody and they’re the hope. Look right there, a bunch of little kids, that’s the neighborhood, that’s the neighborhood right here. And it’s prevalent. So, thanks! It was awesome, I enjoyed it!

Brian: My daughter goes to school with these kids, she plays games with these kids, she sees them at social functions, they all know each other and it is something unique about our neighborhood. They used to joke and call us Mayberry, but it really is kind of its own little Mayberry. It’s got its own little mayor, it’s got its own little crazy people that run the neighborhood, the kids know each other.

Every once in a while, I run into somebody I knew from high school, and they’re like, “we live in Lakeview”, and I’m like, “no you don’t.” And they’re like, “yeah yet we do.” And I’ll ask, “how long have you lived in Lakeview?” And they’re like, “five years.” And I think, “you must not be doing much. Because I should have seen you here or across the street. You’re not really living in Lakeview, because people who live in Lakeview see each other every day.”

Stanley Cohn, attorney and leader in recovery and the effort to reduce blight

Stanley: We were one of the more affluent, educated neighborhoods. So as far as the blight goes, when we came back, it took several months before you figured well ‘What are you gonna do?’ And a lot of the older people left. They just said ‘We can’t do anything.’ So they sold, and a lot of the homes probably 90% were renovated over here. 10% were torn down and rebuilt. I tore down and rebuilt. But basically in our neighborhood, which was different from most, in a lot of the neighborhoods, there was blight because of lack of financial means. That was not the case here. The ones that we had that just sat there, it was something emotional, sociologically wrong with them, and there’s like, one of them was in a divorce, one of them was in the succession, the kids were fighting, and then you had some who were wealthy they said ‘We’re out of here,’ but they didn't want to sell because they liked to have real estate in their portfolio.

So some people needed some stimulation to get it done. And we recognized because we're more educated, that people will only do the minimum required by city government. And so at the time because they didn't want to ruffle feathers of people who couldn't afford to move faster, they just said ‘Cut the grass and board it up, and we'll leave you alone.’ And so in some neighborhoods that was good enough, because the grass had gotten so high, it was disgusting. Out here, it wasn't really enough, because we have what I like to call the IB-ers, the intellectual blighters.

And we're now down to about two houses that are still blighted. So we're down two, in this neighborhood, in my neighborhood. That's all. Which is probably better than any neighborhood in the city that was devastated.

Q: Have you worked primarily here, in Lakeview, or other parts as well?

Stanley: Well what I would do, yeah, I would work here and then we… the city would have a neighborhood network and I would attend those. They've had like a quarterly meeting where they bring in neighborhoods from all over the city, and I would go because I'm a lawyer, and I have a little more knowledge than the average person. And I would go and participate in these discussions and tell them the best practices because we did clean up a lot.

I helped out a lot also with the federal grant program that's administered by the state. Road Home and all that, and there were a lot of people who, most people didn’t understand how it worked. And I attended the various legislative committee hearings they had here in New Orleans, along with some other, a lot of other people.

Q: Do you feel like you have more younger people here than you did earlier?

Stanley: Oh yeah yeah yeah. Like my next-door, it was somebody who built the place in 1960 and they were 80 odd years old at the time of Katrina, and now I've got someone here who's probably upper 30s with three young girls, all below age ten, probably below age eight. So that's a big change.

So out here, if you're a young person and you're looking for a safe neighborhood where you can park your car off the street, and you can push your child in a stroller, or we have these dedicated parks where your child can play, ride a bicycle, and not fear getting run over, or at night you having to look all around and make sure no one's getting ready to shoot you, this is where you’d want to live.

So actually the flood insurance in this area has gone back to what it was pre-Katrina.

Yeah, because of all these floodgates that they that they built out here. They said, ‘Well, the chance of flooding like that is now dramatically less.’ So they changed our flood rating here.

We're just two doors down from the blight and you can see the right there that, where there's no electric meter. You see it, where it's missing? That beige old brick house? Well there are signs that it's not… and the one across the street, the orange brick right here. And they just been sitting like that since Katrina.

Pat, in front of his house. He moved in two years before and discovered
that the house next door and the one across the street were blighted

Pat: Are y’all gonna buy this house [next door] and fix it up?

Stanley: I wish!

Pat: I wish too.

Stanley: I was telling them here we got two pieces of blight left in our neighborhood, and these are the two right here.

Pat: It’s a little frustrating living next to a house that just hasn't been repaired. You come, in you want to be part of a community, you know, it's not a neighborhood, it's community. And we bought this this property a little bit over two years ago now, but have been living here full time about a year and a half.

We love this neighborhood, we bought the property, and it's been a little challenging having a blighted property right next door to you. Everyone else takes care of their properties, you build a sense of community, and then you've got something that that adds nothing. And so we have reached out to the city, we launched a formal complaint, they did send the inspectors out almost immediately within two weeks. The inspectors came out, and it's documented on their website as a blighted property, they reach out to the owner, but my frustration with the city is there appears to be no follow up plan.  You've reached out to the owner, and the owner has not responded to your formal notification, so then what is the next step of the process? And it turns out the property is in legal squabble with the family members and they continue to pay attorneys to settle the thing, but nothing's being done with the property.

Joey and Wayne, who grew up in Lakeview, moved away, and moved back recently

Wayne: We come from where it's an unusual situation for both of us. We were born and raised here. And we were here through college and all our education. We went to the school, we met each other across the street when we were five years old in kindergarten. but we both left at roughly the same time, right after college, Joey went to the East Coast and I went to the West Coast. I we both lived out there in our, on the opposite coasts for 30 some odd years. Down the line when I was around 48 or so I had never been married. I was a Jesuit at one time, and I had worked in the maritime industry. And when I got out of the Jesuits I started saying, well I got out because I wanted to get married eventually, and reconnected with Joey. And we started a long-distance relationship and decided to get married. So we're back in our home neighborhood in, which has changed tremendously

Joey: but I think the basics are still here, the feel, the smell. You know, I can walk down the street, I walk to church all the time, and smell the Oaks and you can't get that any place else.

The house that I grew up in that my dad hand-built every single brick, it's still standing.

Wayne: But anyway, it's been interesting coming back, and fun. But it has changed a lot in many ways from the neighborhood that we were used to. It was really a kind of lower middle-middle class type of neighborhood for our lifetime and growing up here. And it changed. And I think before Katrina we would visit and we notice things that have changed. Katrina really did change, I think, the architecture of the place. And also I think there's a natural gentrification that would that happen, now it's a much more expensive neighborhood to live it.

You still had this wonderful Lakeview which was very affordable up until Katrina. And then shortly afterwards, but when we came here we were surprised at how much it cost to live here now.

Joey: To me it's very much of a younger neighborhood, but I think it was that when we were growing up too, but I think it's evolved back because I think all the adults that I knew growing up, they're no longer here. No longer here in Lakeview, and no longer here. So I think it's evolved back to the young neighborhood

Wayne: It’s a younger neighborhood but it's a well-shoed bunch of families that have moved into the area. Very young, I mean compared to us, we're kind of at the old end of the spectrum, but it's pretty exciting. It's vibrant and it has just a lot of people that we just never expected to be our neighbors.

Joey: But speaking of vibrant there's a lot of things going on. There's the Harrison Avenue marketplace.

Wayne: So there seems to be this attempt to really get people more connected. Certainly more connected than maybe they were the past in our generation. Which I think is really great. There’s people that know each other a lot more so than I think when we grew up where you knew the people on your immediate block and then on the other side, and maybe a few others from school, but that was it. Whereas now they have a much larger range or area of people who are, geographically within Lakeview, who tend to know each other now it seems like.

After work I like to go and socialize on Harrison Avenue. There are a number of restaurants and bars and watering holes and where I can go to my third living room or a third place and socialize with and meet new friends.

Q: Do you have the impression that lots are most of the young people who are here now are from New Orleans area?

Wayne: I think so. I think they're from different parts of it, but I also know there are a lot of people from out of state that are here now who came here I suspect right after Katrina as part of the influx of people seeing an opportunity to move to a place that was hurting and being able to contribute to it, and to be part of the social fabric.

Dee came to New Orleans in the 1990s and lived in the Bywater.
She moved to Lakeview before Katrina when she got married and had a son

Dee: I moved to New Orleans in the early 90s, I believe around 92, 93. and I was in the Bywater for a long time, and then after we got married and had a son, we moved here to Lakeview in 2003, and then it flooded, so we moved back to the Bywater for a little while, and restored the house and came back here. So since I moved back I consider myself a native. You know, if I was willing to rebuild that I think that gives me honorary native status.

It was all driven by schools, which I'm sure is a very New Orleans thing. You know, I loved the Bywater, I loved it particularly then. It was not as hipster as it is now. It was just a really easy neighborhood, you were so close to the French Quarter, my office was so close to the French Quarter at the time so it was real convenient. And thinking ahead to schools, schools at that time in the Bywater were not good. So we’ve been here. And it is different, it's less well probably not a real stretch to figure with the [Grateful Dead] flag, and the peace, the prayer flags, but we do skew liberal, so we're a little bit of not a great fit in that sense, but it's also a really convenient neighborhood. You have everything you need here like you almost never have to leave the neighborhood if you didn’t want to, you don’t need to. So which in some ways was a lot like the Bywater, but yeah it was definitely a change to move here, but there's a lot of benefits. My son went to school two blocks away, he was able to walk to school for most of this is elementary and middle school career, so you know

Q: If you feel like you're a little bit different, do people find you sort of a lovely eccentric or regular?

Dee: I don’t know, that’s a really good question. I will say, Katrina really changed the neighborhood in that I knew our neighbors much better before Katrina and immediately after Katrina. our neighbors next door used to be awesome, they were originally from Arkansas and they would, like if they were mowing their lawn they would mow ours because they're like ‘Well we’ve already got the lawnmower out.’ The folks next door decided not to come back, they ended up divorcing and selling the house. The neighbor down the street, she ended up building another house and then moving to Colorado, so it's changed, so I don't really know the neighbors the way I did pre-Katrina. And the other thing I'll say is even though this neighborhood does skew more conservative, there’s more of us around here than one would think. Yeah

There are some younger people here, but by the same token I think there still are some people who have been here a long, long time.

I think it's changed. It still probably skews conservative, but maybe not quite as much as it was pre-Katrina.

Q: Do you feel like you can go to a restaurant or cafe in the neighborhood and see a lot of people you feel more similar to?

Dee: I guess I would say I don't always feel similar, but I can always find somebody that I feel similar to. Yeah, yeah.

Before Katrina the one thing I would have said about this neighborhood is, it was very active. You saw people moving all the time, walking their dogs, riding their bikes, and then we went for a period of time when we didn't see a lot of that. You know, past five years that's full-on come back. It is it is very active, you constantly, I mean my dog will tell you, that there are constantly dogs going by. So I think people are, I mean, you can't avoid the word recovery, I feel like we have, as a neighborhood, completely recovered. There are still some pockets that haven't come back, but it is it is fully recovered, fully active. Commercially, it's booming. Some people complain about it, I like it, but there's just lots of activity here. Even in that sense, there's just lots happening, so it's just really really active.

Q: That’s good. Do you guys, I mean some of the like older parts of New Orleans, the old traditional thing, like you can't pass by a person on the street without nodding and saying hi. Do you find some of that here?

Dee: I find some of that here but not as much as in other areas. I mean, I think I would have done it every single time in the Bywater. Not as much here. Yeah, that's true. Some people kind of in their own thing, they get their headphones on and they're just running or walking. Yeah, that's true.

Q: I mean it has that reputation here as not being quite as open and talkative to others

Dee: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. And that's a shame because that's one of things I love about New Orleans. That you can talk to anybody, anywhere.

Q: But talk about whether it's people longtime New Orleanians in the different places

Dee: Well I think you still have that. I mean my landlady has lived in the Bywater forever. She's a author and poet, very eccentric like hosts these, they're almost like salons, where people just come and they talk about all kinds of authorly or poetic thoughts. And I don't see her ever leaving

Q: And you feel there are more recent newcomers here than there?

Dee: There are different recent newcomers. I mean there it definitely skews whole lot younger. Like here, anyone moving into this neighborhood might be younger but their families much more, possibly much more transient.

We have a neighborhood association that is very strong, and I think they almost serve as like a little mini city. You know, they take care of a lot of things the city should take care of. We’re crime prevention district so we pay an extra hundred dollars a year to have police patrols which I think is worth its weight in gold.

Rita Legrand, long-time civic activist in Lakeview and around the city,
and Pam Legge, civic activist and legal assistant in city government

Pam: I moved down here in January of ‘08 so I've been here ten years now. But I’m originally from Buffalo New York and I was supposed to come for an AARP convention in August, the weekend of August 28th 2005. Well obviously that didn't happen, and I just got so caught up in what I saw on TV, and I just said ‘I have to get down there.’ And family situation, I'm single all my life. In September of 07, and I called my friend down here in Lakeview and said ‘Eventuality has happened. What do I do now?’ and she says ‘Well, we need somebody to be like a custodian for the building.’ It was what they called Lakeview St. Paul's Homecoming Center, and it was the church.

Q: Connie Uddo?

Pam: Yeah, Connie. Connie and Rita are the reason I’m still here. this is a very safe place to be, but I'll tell you a little something. I work for the city, which is another story, but when I talk to the folks there, and whenever I've mentioned Lakeview… Let me put it this way. It wasn't like… Lakeview had a reputation of being maybe not the friendliest for certain people.

So basically, when Connie had me at the Homecoming Center, I lived there. And then, say a group of kids came at 2:00 in the morning, she wouldn't have to come from her home, I'd be there and I’d like den mother her. So that was nice. And we had a community center during the day. I'm a career legal secretary, so I was helping people fill out their packets for FEMA and we had a fax machine and then we even had a laundry room.

Oh, the biggest thing is I work in the Blight Department at City Hall. So basically what we're doing in it, using my expertise as a legal secretary, is to the abandoned properties.

But Lakeview, everybody knows everybody.

Pam: I've been learning the good and the bad of working for a governmental agency and I will say, I hear really funny things. Like I will have gone out with Rita and her husband to a restaurant, and I'll go to work and I'll say where we went, and hear things like, ‘oh my goodness, that's a white person's restaurant.’ So I guess that's my way of saying there is still is a definite division, but it's amicable. Whereas I can say up north they act like they don't, but they're actually worse, absolutely.

If I did what I really wanted to do I would live in the Quarter, but a lot of things would be different it's just not safe for a single person, but I would go down there.

I started out, we would have our [blight] hearings for it before the people who had problems with their homes, and it was like ‘Okay you owe us thousands of dollars, now you have to pay’ or blah blah blah. Yeah, but I had always said, rather than… and it always seemed like it was the people who could ill afford it that always showed up to the hearings trying to do the right thing you, but there was no avenue to help them. And then you had the businesses and the commercial guys and all that other stuff who would, you’d pay the fine and not do anything, or hire an attorney, or take us to take us to appeals court to get, and in the meantime the property, nothing happens to it. It just seems to me with some of that money, I mean, in the amount of money some of these good, I call them “Mama and Papa” whose children left for Katrina, couldn't find jobs when they came back, Mama and Papa wouldn’t go with them because this is the only home they've had, you could have given them $5,000 and they still would have done something fantastic with that house. It might not have put it on the market. And a lot of these folks, they were either handed that home to begin with, or there was no paperwork when they got and especially in the ninth ward and down those areas there, but that's okay. We're not dealing with them now because nobody wants to buy there. I said it. It's just awful, it is awful. I know I'm talking about all the wonderfulness about being down here but that that just… so I had to stop being a hearing facilitator because it was killing me, it was killing me. I'd give them their verdict of how much it's gonna cost, they would they would break down and cry.

Rita: If you want to know how the neighborhood is now, we have kept up with what goes on with the blight in the neighborhood from early on. We've always done surveys and everything. We now have ten houses that are blighted out of the 7,000 properties that we have in Lakeview. We have three that are disgusting, the other ones are, we have to live with them, but it's been great to be able to come back. A lot of our neighborhood restaurants are changing because they've been put out to accommodate the new, younger folks and their eating habits and so forth. So we have a little change going on, but we have a lot more restaurants in Lakeview.

Well you know young people like a sushi and the things that I didn't grow up with, but it's really nice. I mean you can go to District Donut right down here and to buy a donut it's $2.50 for the plain one, and you know… we're not interested in $2.50 donuts, but young people enjoy this and they should have it. But we have a lot of restaurants that have come back and then change names and got in this newer cuisine and so forth.

But anyway I think that Lakeview’s done great and I’m happy to be a part of it. A most recent problem was we had a low flooding in August, and right before that a little group had gotten together, which I call the insurrection committees, they have another name for it, and we decided to start going to the sewerage and water board meetings to find out what was going on. People were getting very high bills and they weren't reading the meters and they were having all sorts of problem, so we started going to the sewerage and water board meetings and right after that we hit that August 5th flood. So we were already talking to them about everything and we were very fortunate because we had started surveying all of the catch basins in Lakeview to find out which ones were broken and so forth. So the meeting right after that storm, I had 25 catch basins that were broken, I bought them right down there, they didn't have any public comment on their agenda. I said, ‘I'm here on the public and I want to comment.’ Ever since then they have public comment on their agenda. And I asked for my 25 catch basins to be fixed, almost all of them were fixed, and they had three that weren't fixed, but they were working on them by the next meeting. You just have to go down there and look at them, eyeball to eyeball.

Q: I’m so bowled over by you at the Blight Stat meetings because they’d say ‘any comments?’ ‘I have a comment!’

Rita: I always have a comment!

Q: And Andy Kopplin would say, ‘how are we doing, Ms. Rita?’ and you say, ‘well you didn't cover this.’ And in the meantime, you're bringing home baked cookies. I mean, what a combination!

Rita: Well, you have to be nice or you're not gonna get anywhere. So you have to have your say, but then you go sit down and talk to them about how the kids are and so forth. And it's important, that's the way I've always done it.

Pam: We could use a lot of that in a lot more places, we really could.

Note. These photo portraits cannot represent the whole range of views in a neighborhood. My survey research tries to do that (see my home page). But I think that these photo portraits express views that are widespread in a neighborhood. This is due to the methodology. Qualitative work like these photo pages has more depth, while quantitative work like surveys has more breadth. Both are valuable, and if you want to know more about a neighborhood, you should try to learn about both.

All materials which I created, including animations,
are Copyright © 1998-2018 by Frederick Weil; all rights reserved.

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