Monday, January 9, 2012

A Sliver by the River

Fortified by lunch at Elizabeth's, we continued our tour of the Bywater section of New Orleans. Our drive covered land that had been plantations, carved from land grants made by the French and Spanish rulers.

"The early inhabitants of Bywater included Creoles; free people of color; and immigrants from Ireland, Germany and Italy. Many were creative types: glass artists, sculptors, painters, writers and musicians" (

"Professions of residents today are much the same as earlier settlers as these modern artists and artisans rediscover this historic and traditional working-class neighborhood and move their homes and studios into the mix of architecture here" (

"After Hurricane Katrina, many survivors flocked to the area as it was less affected by the storm, due to the slightly higher elevation closer to the Mississippi River. Bywater became part of what was known as the 'Sliver By The River,' meaning neighborhoods that saw no flooding, including Faubourg Marigny, the French Quarter, Irish Channel Area, and parts of the lower Garden District including St. Charles Avenue" (Mark Ellwood, Financial Times, 19 June 2010).

"Bywater contains a great wealth of 19th-century architec-ture. The late Victorian shotgun, available in singles, doubles and camelbacks, is very common here. However, there are
also Creole cottages, classic town houses, Victorian center-hall and side-hall cottages and almost every other kind of architecture from just about every period in the development of the city.

"Because of this richness of architecture and sturdy housing stock, artsy Bywater has been experiencing a surge of renovations in recent years. Investors have found home prices more affordable here than in the neighboring French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny and have begun to turn the gracious old homes into dwellings suited to their lifestyles" (myneworleans. com).

"The historic renovation business is booming in Bywater. Attracted by the neighborhood’s gorgeous architecture and “high and dry” elevation (anywhere from 5 - 8 feet above sea level), many projects are already completed or underway.
World-renowned architect Andres Duany noted,
'Ninety percent of Bywater’s architecture is gorgeous and historic'" (

Many of the homes show the results of the attention to detail in the restoration of these historic homes. We have chosen to focus on these details rather than show a larger view of the homes. The combination of colors and the number of different colors appear more striking when presented in the smaller area covered by these photos.

Bywater is home to many artists and studios. Some of the sculptures can be found in the yards,

on fences, and

on doors of the homes of this community.

There were other homes that were in the early stages of restoration. But even through the chipped paint and shutters in disrepair, we could see beauty in these homes.

We found this description of Bywater that seemed to capture its appeal: "Nestled into the curve of the Mississippi as it winds its way down river from the French Quarter and the Marigny, Bywater is a relaxed neighborhood of shotgun houses and Creole cottages which is home to the most thriving bohemia in the city. Although the area endured moderate Katrina flooding, this vibrant, creative and eclectic place has barely missed a beat in digging out and transforming its trash into treasure. Here corner groceries and neighborhood bars coexist with artists' studios and late-night cafes in a way that truly says New Orleans...funky, cutting-edge, embracing and fiercely protective of its own unique energy. Whether you're looking for a home with lacy woodwork and heart-of-pine floors or a gallery selling fine jewelry and outsider art, Bywater has it all in a way that will charm, delight and astonish you.

"The area is home to young professionals, musicians, painters and photographers who find inspiration in its closely-packed houses and unexpected gardens. Bywater isn't just an area where history is preserved: it's an area where the 19th and 20th centuries live in cheerful cross-pollination with the 21st, and tomorrow's creations are nurtured in the warm glow of an intact and colorful past" (

We happened upon this area, but not until later did we learn that it's a pretty good place for BBQ.

We loved the placement of the chairs against the building. And we loved Bywater.

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