I wanted to see what would happen if I just pointed the bicycle east from Uptown New Orleans and started pedaling. I had heard of an abandoned amusement park on the eastern fringes of New Orleans, I picked that as a destination.
It was a beautiful day. I left our guest apartment Uptown and bicycled downtown, through the Central Business District and into the French Quarter. Bicycling on one-way streets like Burgundy is quite easy.
Down from the French Quarter is Faubourg Marigny.
I turned up Franklin Avenue, going away from the river. This was a direction I had never bicycled before. I knew things were quickly going to get less picturesque.
Franklin Avenue blends into Almonaster Avenue.
Almonaster Avenue peters out underneath the Interstate 10 high rise bridge over the Industrial Canal. Google Maps showed another smaller bridge here.
But there were obstacles.
There was no one around, and it was easy to walk my bicycle across this bridge.
Almonaster Avenue continues for many miles the other side of the bridge, passing through partially filled-in swamps, separated from the rest of New Orleans East by railroad yards. In The Godfather this would be a good place to dump a body. It looks dangerous to bicycle but there is essentially no traffic on this four line divided highway.
I knew I was getting close to my destination, the amusement park, so I turned north across the railroad tracks, into residential neighborhoods of New Orleans East. This area was first developed in the sixties and seventies and was mostly white. Now it is where many wealthier African-Americans live. According to Wikipedia, both Aaron Neville and Irma Thomas live out here somewhere.
Six Flags New Orleans opened in 2000 but was only open for five years. They were not really making money, and then Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged it in 2005. It never reopened. It is surrounded by locked fences but I could see a rollercoaster off in the distance.
I turned to go back home, bicycling through miles of subdivisions.
Yes, New Orleans East was heavily flooded during Katrina, but it appears dried out now. I can only blame the collective racism of the real estate market that so little retail has returned. There are very few restaurants and grocery stores out here. This is where Lake Forest Plaza shopping mall used to reside.
I bicycled back across the Industrial Canal, this time on the Chef Menteur Highway bridge.
On the other side, in the Gentilly neighborhood there was this apparently African-American owned coffee shop. I sat for quite a while, drinking a latte and reading The New Yorker on my Kindle.
This was still Carnival season. In the Ninth Ward / Bywater some kind of brass band was assembling.
One more thing. Did you know there is a First World War monument in a park in Bywater? White soldiers and black soldiers are listed separately, white solders on the front, black soldiers on the back. And those not killed in action, what did they die of? Wounds? The flu?
Leave a Reply