New Orleans is full of churches. All kinds of churches. But, mainly Catholic churches. Many of them have been closed, or are for sale. As the population of the city declined there is no need for so many churches. Then, along came Katrina and the population dropped substantially. So, even more churches were closed. They are all maintained and look pretty good. As you know, I like to poke around old and abandoned things. I was wandering around and I found this one. It is St. Mary’s Assumption Church. It was built in 1860, for a growing German population in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans, across the street from St. Alphonsus Church which was built the same time for a swelling Irish Population. Sheesh. These people never get together. St. Mary’s Assumption was damaged by Hurricane Betsy and almost torn down and more heavily damaged by Katrina. Yet, it still stands. As an aside, writer Anne Rice renewed her wedding vows there. And, after I “discovered” this place, I was talking with a friend’s father who told me that this was his family’s church and that he attended school there.
A note about my discoveries. I find places that have been around for decades or centuries. I think I’ve actually found some unknown thing. Silly me.
So. The picture. It was a pretty simple exposure on which I used a lot of post production tools. Which ones. I forget. Hard to keep these things straight.
In yesterday’s post I talked a little bit about the small St. Bernard Parish town of Algiers. It is really known for two things. Maybe more. But, the two that come to mind is that’s where the Domino sugar plant is located. You can’t miss it. Its smokestacks tower about everything. The second landmark is a little less known, but probably even more interesting. It’s called The Le Beau Mansion. And, guess what? It’s haunted. Well, so they say. If you Google around, you can find all sorts of comments about that. Apparently, slaves where badly mistreated there. There were at least two hangings on the second floor. And, until the cupola was boarded up, many nearby residents claimed that they could lights turn on and off at that highest point.
Historically, here’s a little bit of what I know. It was built in 1854. Until 1854, the land on which it was built was called the Eclipse Plantation. It was a mansion, a hotel and even later, a gambling house. It is built in a district of Arabi called Friscoville, which was laid out on land that was originally belonged to the plantation. Historians call it “the last grand River Road Plantation near New Orleans.” It is now owned by the Joseph Meraux Estate. That’s a whole other story. But, The Meraux Estate is one of the biggest landowners in Southeast Louisiana. They even own one of the oldest buildings in the city. The Jean Lafitte Blacksmith Shop in The French Quarter. It is now a bar.
This picture. Well, just about everybody who has passed through the area has photographed it. I haven’t seen much night work. So I will eventually go back to do that. But, this image, photographed through the summer growth during the day is my attempt to do something a little different.
I wrote in some earlier post that one of the reasons Central City seems to have some renewed value to developers is because it is a ten minutes away from the Superdome. Er, The Mercedes Dome. That’s what it’s called since Saints owner Tome Benson sold the naming rights to The Louisiana Dome. Other people know it as the last shelter of refuge. But, that was seven years ago. That green squarish building on the right is where the basketball team plays. So, if you redevelop Central City you get a twofer.
A word or two about this picture. In order to make my point, I shot it with a long lens — a 200 mm — which compressed it some. You can tell this by looking at the house on the left. It is just a house, yet it looks as big as the arena. If that wasn’t enough, I just couldn’t leave well enough alone and I had to mess with it using Snapseed to sharpen a portion of the telephone lines and soften just about everything else. I’m not sure what point that makes. I often work that way.
I rarely post alternate versions of the same shoot. But, I had to. I think I like this one more that the first attempt, Since you know the story of the place, I’ll let that go. For now. Post production was done on my i-Pad using Snapseed from an original i-Phone image. New media. I guess.
The Holy Cross area in New Orleans is actually a sub-district of The 9th Ward. Sub district is one of those words that I stumbled upon while researching what I photographed. So, this is St. Maurice Church. It’s been decommissioned by the Catholic Church in New Orleans and is now for sale. The church was built in 1857. It really doesn’t look it, but that’s what the sign on the wall said. That’s also what any history I found said. It must be correct. Maybe not. I’m skeptical that way. Numbers add up to nothin’, you know?
First, St. Maurice. He was the leader of the Roman Theban Legion. They were famous. In the Third Century. He was ordered by Maximian to kill a large group of Christians. He refused and Maximian ordered his own troops be decimated. That means killing one of every ten soldiers. When that didn’t work, he killed them all. The Christians. The soldiers. And, St. Maurice. He did that in what is now Switzerland. And, you wonder why they stay neutral.
Second. Holy Cross. It is the final eastward development of New Orleans. It was established in 1849 by a group by brothers, sisters and priests of — you guessed it — The Order of The Holy Cross. They built an orphanage which became what was Holy Cross School in 1895. The school moved to Gentilly — another area in New Orleans — after the entire Holy Cross area was flooded by Hurricane Katrina.
I didn’t know any of this until I took the picture and decided to do a little poking around. Well, that’s not entirely true. I know what decimated means. I studied Latin in high school. Anyway, it just shows you what a little research can do. That, and boredom.
The picture. More i-Phone work. I tuned it up a bit. Well, a lot. I used by Snapseed and OnOne to do the work. The picture was silhouetted, but didn’t have much else. I thought the church was a little spooky so I created a picture to reflect what I saw.
I saw this on my walk through The Quarter. I had to photograph it. I make no cultural comments. Angelo Brocato is long longer in The French Quarter. They are located on Carrollton near Canal Street. They are New Orleans beloved Italian sweet shop. Ice cream that is the best. Often, we eat dinner at one restaurant and head over there for dessert. New Orleans is a city full of ghosts and ghost signs. Keeps things interesting.
That’s the title of a very old song. It’s also one of many pictures that I’ve been making on my Central City project. Before I post, a few stories. Central City is located roughly in the center of New Orleans. It’s boundaries seem to expand and contract depending on what map your read or who you talk to. But, for my project’s purposes it is bounded by Louisiana Avenue, Claiborne, I-10 and St Charles Avenue, although the house and buildings of St Charles Avenue look nothing like most of the housing stock in the heart of Central City. Today the area is crime ridden and down trodden. But, once, it was the heart os business, commerce and architecture. At one point in its history, Oretha Castle Hailey Blvd– once called Dryades Street — was second only to Canal Street. Because this area is located on a rare piece of high ground which means much of it did not flood during Hurricane Katrina, a lot of attention has been called to it. There are new condo developments, there is a lot of interest in restoring the once proud Oretha Castle Hailey Blvd back to its grand status and there seems to be a lot of interest in making the district livable again.
So. My project is about rebirth. There is a lot of talk about whether it is possible. Some say as the area is re-populating the crime rate is rising. Others say in ten years time, the area will be thriving. After all, it is the only neighborhood from which you can walk to The MBZ Superdome. Time, hard work and luck will tell.
This picture. There is a gym that is probably only for the hardiest of gym rats called Friday Night Fights based on its reputation for holding a big event called — you guessed it — Friday Night Fights every couple of months. I went there to make a few pictures This is one of them.
I case you are wondering there will be a lot more pictures and a lot more stories to tell as this project progresses.
Everybody around me — myself included — was grumpy. So, we went to the French Quarter. I don’t know why. We just did. We ate at Maspero’s. The real one. The one that is supposed to be a tourist trap. Not the one on Decatur which is supposed to be good. Surprise. The food was good. The waiter was a good guy. And… they gave us 15% off for a locals discount. I’ve never gotten that in any French Quarter restaurant. But, this post isn’t about the food. It’s about the quarter. It was roaring on a hot early summer’s night. I mean 92 degrees at 9pm is hot, isn’t it? Every place was busy. We started down Bourbon Street, got bored, made a right turn on Orleans toward Royal and I stumbled into this picture. I wasn’t heavily armed, but I was carrying my semi-new Sony NEX5, which I think is a great little camera. A few minutes of post production later and here it is. Oh yeah. This is the back of the St Louis Cathedral. Looks a like like Paris to me. Someone told me the reason for the crowds is that there is a giant Baptist Convention in town. Yeah. Like the Baptists are going drinking on Bourbon Street. Good one.
New York City. What does it mean to you? And, you? And, you? Different things probably. To me, it’s a city that never sleeps. It’s a city of amazingly high energy. It’s sparkles and it shimmers. Don’t misunderstand me. I love other cities as well. But, for different reasons. I love Hong Kong. Oh, boy. Do I love being in Hong Kong. I love Shanghai. I love Paris. I love San Francisco and it may seem odd, but I even like Los Angeles. And, of course, I love the city in which I live — New Orleans. But, New York… Whew.
So. This picture. It’s elderly. It’s a signature picture. It was made on film. It was made from the observation deck of The Empire State Building and shows a glimmering Chrysler Building surrounded by a shimmering city. For me, that says New York. It’s a happy picture. We could all use a little dose of happy about now. Don’t you think?