Back in the day we used to mock the area across the Mississippi River from New Orleans by wryly calling it The Best Bank. Over The River on The West Bank usually meant working class suburbia, shipyards, and industrial areas. Even though Tootie and I lived in New Orleans for nearly seven years in the 1980’s we rarely went across that bridge. In Bunny Matthew’s 1980’s cartoon Vic and Nat’ly, over the river from their Ninth Ward home (a distance of about two miles) meant really going someplace.
The Crescent City Connection bridge now has about eight lanes. The Canal Street Ferry, almost underneath the bridge, still continues in 2017. You can bike from our short-term rental apartment Uptown down to the foot of Canal Street, and the ferry is essentially sitting there waiting for you; toll for passenger and bicycle two dollars, and the ferry takes about ten minutes.
The ferry gives the passenger a wonderful view of central New Orleans.
In about 1850 arriving New Orleans by boat was pretty much the only mean of transport and it must have looked similar to this. The St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere and Cabildo flanking it, and the dark brick Pontalba Buildings flanking on both sides would have all been there at that point.
The Canal Street Ferry docks in Algiers Point, a nineteenth century New Orleans neighborhood directly across the river from the French Quarter and the CBD. There is a peacefulness here; almost no car traffic and people walk to the ferry.
This lady on the ferry displays the tribal pride of those in Algiers.
There is a delightful new paved bike path that runs on top of the levee along the river the several miles upriver to Gretna. You almost immediately go underneath the bridge. On this day there were two cruise ships parked on the wharfs on the other side.
Gretna must have developed because it is the landing spot of another ferry, the former Jackson Avenue ferry. The older part of Gretna looks on a Sunday morning like the set of a movie for a mythical small town.
To go further upriver the bike path ended in Gretna and you have to ride through the streets. I thought it would look newer, more suburban, but if you stay close to the river the towns of Gretna, Harvey, Marrero, and Westwego all are older neighborhoods that run into each other, interspersed with refineries, ship canals, and dead factories.
The last town I visited was Westwego, supposedly named for the phrase “west we go.” There were lots of election signs around for local races, including this candidate for mayor borrowing Trump’s phrasing.