No one calls it N’awlins
This collage represents my memories of living within New Orleans’ distinct architectural culture. New Orleans is sometimes described as the most African city in America. The Faubourg Tremé section has been a majority Black neighborhood since 1794, when it was populated by free persons of color. Tremé existed, however, alongside thousands of slaves - 17,000, in fact, by 1850, in a city of 100,000 people. After emancipation, the most favorable occupations for Black men were carpentry and ironwork, meaning that they built many of the homes that stand today in New Orleans, and many were built in the Tremé area even before emancipation. There are distinct architectural trends that stemmed directly from West Africa: a radial street design; one-story, one room-wide “Shotgun houses;” and Adinkra symbols and ornamentation, which are woven into the wrought iron all around the city. Common Adinkra symbols in the city include dwannimmen, the ram’s horns, and hye won hye, or “that which cannot be burned.” Shotgun houses are often Creole cottages, which are direct descendants from the architecture of homes in West Africa. Within these streets, Jazz music, VouDou spirituality, second lines, and Mardi Gras are just some of the ways that New Orleans has held on to a fusion of Creole, Native American, and West African cultural identities. These architectural legacies echo the vibrant Black arts culture and radical activism all around New Orleans today.
Some of the images that make up the built environment of New Orleans.