“Under The Freeway,” a story in Letters From New Orleans, is all about the Claiborne I-10 overpass, which (in)famously converted a wide and grassy neutral ground running through predominantly black neighborhoods into a dank, concrete no-man’s-zone — one that, weirdly, held onto a certain kind of social-space status despite it all.
I was interested to learn, a bit belatedly, that this past October the Congress For The New Urbanism “named the Claiborne overpass of Interstate 10 as one of 10 highways across the country that should be removed in the name of neighborhood rebirth,” according to this article. Also:
Following Hurricane Katrina, the removal of the highway was recognized in the Unified New Orleans Plan as a means of reconnecting Treme to surrounding neighborhoods in the French Quarter, Marigny and Esplanade Ridge. UNOP planners predicted the full removal of the interstate overpass would renew 35 to 40 city blocks and create 20 to 25 blocks of open space along Claiborne Avenue. But since the UNOP declaration no plans have been made to tear down the overpass and local officials have said nothing to imply support for the costly maneuver.
Part of my standard spiel when we had visitors to N.O. was to point out the history of the overpass, and the curious persistence of its use as a social-ish space. I almost can’t imagine it being done away with. But I would certainly like to see what that area would be like, post-overpass.