chapter  13
21 Pages

The most Complete Street in the world: a dream deferred and co-opted

ByAnna Livia Brand

North Claiborne Avenue runs through the heart of New Orleans’ historic black communities, Treme and the 7th Ward. A regional spine that connects Orleans with St. Bernard and Jefferson Parishes, Claiborne is also the site of a much contested expressway, whose 1960s construction decimated the black business corridor that once lined this wide, tree-lined boulevard and contributed to these neighborhoods’ decline. Coupled with the construction of I-10 were other largescale urban interventions, including the urban renewal-type development of Armstrong Park and the development of two public housing projects. Combined, these interventions mirrored national trends that supported white suburbanization (and in the case of New Orleans the suburbanization of the middle-class black community) and urban disinvestment. Across the country we saw the rise in concentrated poverty and high indices of social ills such as joblessness, crime, and poor public education within cities as federally subsidized highways supported the literal and figurative abandonment of the city center.