I ran across some of Jeff Lamb’s photos on flickr last fall, and he has some great shots of random places in New Orleans during the 70′s and 80′s.
I like this one especially, of the old D&J Sweet Shop on Louisiana.
I got curious and went by there in December to see what had happened to the old place. Some PRC documents from a few years ago indicated that it had been closed for a long time and that somebody was trying to renovate it. Here’s what it looks like today:
It’s a lovely house, and I’m glad that they preserved the building, at least. But there’s a lot in this picture to make you sad. The corner seems lifeless now. Compared to twenty years ago, the sidewalks are cracked and broken, and the stop sign is leaning over at an angle (from Katrina’s winds, or just neglect?) And the oak canopy, although somewhat thinned due to it being winter, is definitely not what it once was.
I think that’s one of the things about post-flood New Orleans that weighs on my psyche. The light is all wrong. There is sunlight where there used to be shade. There is empty where there used to be thick green.
Think about this: there are no longer any living magnolia trees between Freret and the lake.
It’s coming back, but it will take decades before it approaches what it once was. And no amount of neighborhood meetings or grant money or community willpower or (god forbid) government leadership can make a tree grow any faster than a tree grows.
[P.S.: I'm bowing to pressure and doing the 25Peeps thing. Don't let me drop like a rock the way Karl did.]