ALGIERS POINT

Algiers sits on land once granted to Bienville, the founder of New Orleans. Pauger, the Royal Engineer, also claimed this land for himself but died before the matter was totally resolved. Bienville himself was to lose the land, and the Kings of France and Spain were later owners. Others followed, including one Batholemy Duverje in 1805. The point opposite New Orleans directly across the river from the Marigny Plantation (the foot of Elysian Fields) was called Point Antoine, and later Point Marigny. It was also known as Slaughterhouse Point, for there was a colonial abattoir here.

Toward the end of French colonial rule, slaves were unloaded here from ships newly arrived from Africa. Jean Lafitte used a canal that went through the Point to quietly come in and out of the area. Today this point is known as Algiers Point, a ninety degree bend sticking out into the river's swift eight-mile-per-hour current. For the first three decades of American domination in Louisiana, Algiers was officially called Duverjeville, or Duverjeburg.

By 1840 it was called Algiers, but nobody is sure why. Most believe it was because of the comparison between the Algiers of North Africa and its location across from France and Algiers being across from New Orleans. By 1870 Algiers, annexed by the City of New Orleans, was similar to other New Orleans neighborhoods - yet apart from it. It became an important hub of transportation. There were ironworks, warehouses and the Great Western Railroad. At one time up to seventy-five percent of all east-west freight traveled through Algiers.

But in 1895 a devastating fire wiped out the Algiers Courthouse and most of its impressive Italianate and Greek Revival structures. A new town rose up from the charred remains. Within a year, a new courthouse was built, as were new and larger homes plus rows of attractive shotguns and cottages. A neoclassic Carnegie Foundation library was built in 1907. All this was in large part due to the thriving railroad and shipbuilding industries. The great Western became part of the Southern Pacific Railroad and commerce grew.

The main link to New Orleans has always been the Canal Street Ferry connecting Algiers Point with the foot of Canal Street since the 1800s. It wasn't until 1958 that a bridge crossed over from the Central Business District, which is today twin spans called the Crescent City Connection. Between the Connection and Algiers Point is ninth generation Algerine Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. Other Algerines of note are John McDonogh and Martin Behrman. McDonogh was benefactor of schools in New Orleans and his hometown of Baltimore, and Behrman was the five-term mayor of New Orleans who said "you can make it illegal but you can't make it unpopular."

Algiers Point as a neighborhood is bounded on two sides by the Mississippi River forming the "point," with Atlantic Avenue and Opelousas Avenue forming the other two sides. Some claim Newton Street instead of Opelousas Avenue as the southern boundary. Newton Street continues on to become General Meyer. Algiers Point, therefore, is either six or nine blocks deep by twelve blocks wide. Greater Algiers is a much larger area extending to the Jefferson Parish line (the Donner Canal). Its major arteries are named for military men, General DeGaulle, General Meyer and McArthur. Aurora Gardens and Tall Timbers are popular residential areas.