Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Place to Listen...

I often visit the city. It is the only place I can get some relief from skinning all the catfish my wife catches here in rural East Texas and I know that folks like this area because it's not the city. They feel the city is all crowded and run and gun all the time. There are places to be found in the city, especially a historical city and I like to listen and hear the voices of the past in these places. 

While out bike riding on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans we picked up po-boy samiches and boudan at a little local spot and as it was a lunch counter place with no sit down service we looked for a place to sit and eat. We found this area on the bank of the river.  

With the river levee to the left and the Crescent City Connection Bridge in the distance someone has put up this rope swing for good simple fun. Simple fun might be all that's available to the swing builder as this neighborhood has a high crime rate and is one of the poorest in the country.  

Trying for an art photo here as I look and listen. No one else is around out side the levee and few people pass on the nice walking biking trail that tops it. Maybe it's just the afternoon heat but it gives me a chance to   hear the voices that came before. This area was land granted as a plantation in 1719. The voices of the plantation slaves rang out on this ground. It did not incorporate until 1800 as a city. Legend says it was  called Algiers possibly because the French Quarter is close across the river or that  it looked liked that country when viewed from a boat.  

Along the river here slaves imported from Africa were held  to recover from the terrible voyage before being taken to the slave markets across the river in the French Quarter. Later when importation ended and slave breeding became an industry the sounds of this time, the songs brought from across the water were lost, the prayers for help to the belief systems of these peoples from various countries thrown together in misery forgotten.  Listen to them echo. They are here.

The the Acadians who became the Cajuns when expelled by the British from Nova Scotia were also held here during the French and Indian War. They were a little more successful in establishing and maintaining a culture. Even persecuted they were free. The voices are here.

On the West Bank there were ship and rail yards. They were so mechanically proficient that any part for a train or steamship could be manufactured. Until the building of the Huey P. Long Bridge in the 1930s up river rail cars crossed by barge. Other traffic crossed here by ferry until 1958.  Cathy made this picture of the sandblasting of a ship hull in dry dock. Listen to the old voices, deck hands, steamboat captains, ferry men, conductors, engineers and sailors from around the world.

This photo was made I think from the bike trail zooming up St. Louis Cathedral across the river. You can see the tourist crowds and I admit I have made many a photo from the park in the foreground with the old church as a back drop. History is there but with the crowds it's harder to hear the voices of the past. The city, the people intrude in and sometimes it just becomes a place you rush past. 

Stop, listen, find out who we are. 



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