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Along Saint Claude

Jonathan Traviesa

Over the course of 2013, I interviewed dozens and dozens of folks who live, or once lived, in the neighborhoods along both sides of St. Claude Avenue, roughly from St. Bernard to Poland Avenue. I asked them to share stories of their neighborhoods, what they’re like now, how they’ve changed, and how they feel about those changes. These voices became the makings of this seven-part radio documentary: Along Saint Claude.

I’ve lived in Downtown New Orleans going on eight years, and I’m amazed by the changes I see happening around me. I hear people talking about these changes all the time, and I wanted to listen more closely to what different people think and feel about our community’s past, present and future. I am incredibly thankful to all the people who took time to talk with me. Thanks also to Adam Fiebleman, Nina Feldman, Thomas Walsh, Tina Antolini, LaineKaplan-Levenson, Seth Ludman, Marie Lovejoy, Alison Fensterstock, Greg Schatz, Rebecca Snedeker, Katy Reckdahl and Eve Troeh.

For more pictures, audio outtakes, and to listen to individual segments of Along Saint Claude, visit

Credit Jonathan Traviesa
Eppy Livaccari.

Part 1: What's in a Name

Downtown New Orleans goes by lots of names: Marigny, Bywater, St. Claude, St. Roch, the 9th Ward. But a lot of these names are relatively recent inventions. How do these names form our identities? How do they separate and divide us?

People in Part 1: Steve Nuccio, Keith Weldon Medley, Nick Scramuzza, Julian Doerr Mutter, Kathy Hall, Richard Campanella, Miss Saint Claude, John Andrews, Beth Butler, Emily Atterbury, Daniel Eaglin, Augusta Elmwood, Joanne Moret, Nick Faust, Michael Markey, Susan Brady, Jonathan Rhodes.

Music in Part 1: “Where Ya From?” The Stooges; theme music by Greg Schatz

Part 2: A Brief History Lesson

Before we lived here, before anyone from Europe or Africa lived here, the geography of this land laid the foundation for everything that came afterwards. In 6 minutes you’ll learn 300 years of Downtown New Orleans’ history!

People in Part 2: Richard Campanella, Victoria Elmwood, Robert Elmwood, Augusta Elmwood, Miss Saint Claude, Kriss Kuttruff, Beth Butler, Peggy Bienville, Keith Weldon Medley.

Music in Part 2: 9th Ward,” Morning 40 Federation; theme music by Greg Schatz.

Credit Jonathan Traviesa
Joanne Livaccari Cieutat.

Part 3: The 9th Ward of Yore

The neighborhoods along Saint Claude have been lots of things for lots of people, but when today’s old timers wax nostalgic about “the old neighborhood,” it’s often for this place — the neighborhood we now call Bywater. 

People in Part 3:

Joan Bostick, Joanne Livaccari Cieutat, Nick Faust, Frank Donze, Roy Markey, Joycelyn Cheramie, Jim Dubuc, John Garritty, Miss Saint Claude.

Music in Part 3:

“Stormy Weather,” Dave Bartholomew; “Dear Old Southland,” Louis Armstrong; theme music by Greg Schatz.

Part 4: White Flight

The neighborhoods along Saint Claude have been changing even before they were neighborhoods, but the upheaval known as White Flight, which began in the middle of the last century, drastically reorganized who lives where in New Orleans, and all over our country.

People in Part 4: Augusta Elmwood, Robert Elmwood, Steve Nuccio, John Andrews, Daniel Eaglin, Keith Weldon Medley, Ron McClain, Beth Butler, Kathy Hall, Eppy Livaccari.

Music in Part 4: Four versions of “My Blue Heaven” by The Mills Brothers, Fats Domino, Oscar Peterson, and Marlene Dietrich; theme music by Greg Schatz.

Credit Jonathan Traviesa
Dan Lauricella.

Part 5: The 'G Word'

Some people can barely even say the word gentrification. Others blame it for a host of problems. Still others think it gets a bad rap. Let’s get into it.

People in Part 5: Meghann McCracken, Dan Lauricella, Keith Weldon Medley, Richard Campanella, Eppy Livaccari, Joanne Livaccari Cieutat, Barry Walton, Julian Doer Mutter, John Andrews, Ron McClain, Miss Saint Claude, Augusta Elmwood, Pres Kabacoff, Brooke Butler, Beth Elmwood, John Armant, Kathy Hall, Steve Nuccio.

Music in Part 5: “Chellar,” Helen Gillet; “Lazy River,” Louis Prima; theme music by Greg Schatz.

Part 6: New Kids on the Block

Who are these new people moving to the neighborhoods along Saint Claude Avenue (people like me, for example)?  What does it mean to be “from” here? And why on Earth would anyone want to move to a city that flooded so badly?

People in Part 6: Roy Markey, Frank Donze, Luke Allen, Francesca McKenzie, Arielle Schecter, Katie Hunter-Lowrey, Robert Elmwood, Diné Butler, Karen Crain, Beth Butler, Debra Campbell.

Music in Part 6: “You’ve Got to be Crazy to Live in this Town,” Alex MacMurray; “Hope You’re Coming Back,” Jazz Vipers/Joe Braun; theme music by Greg Schatz.

Credit Laine Kaplan-Levenson
In making 'Along Saint Claude', Eve Abrams put signs in Saint Claude's neutral ground asking people to talk while they waited for the train to pass.

Part 7: Old Buildings

Chances are, if you live in a neighborhood along Saint Claude Avenue, you live in an old building. It may even be the reason you live here. These masterfully crafted, aging and often dilapidated houses stand on some of New Orleans’ highest ground. In other words, they’ve become hot property. In this episode: real estate, zoning, the arts corridor, restoration, scale and a hint at the future.

People in Part 7: Miss Saint Claude, Dan Lauricella, Robert Elmwood, John Andrews, Peggy Bienville, Keith Weldon Medley, Malcolm McClay, Polly Noble, Kym Valene, Dave Melerine, Lee Walker, Dan Eaglin, Pres Kabacof, Roberta Gratz, Peter Horjus, Julian Doerr Mutter.

Music in Part 6: “Losing Game,” Greg Schatz; “Golden Parachute,” R Scully and Rough 7, “Go to the Mardi Gras,” Professor Longhair; “Saint Claude Avenue,” The Geraniums; theme music by Greg Schatz.

Eve Abrams first fell in love with stories listening to her grandmother tell them; it’s been an addiction ever since.