Central City

Cafe Reconcile

Cafe Reconcile

Frank picked us up at my maaama’s in Gretna. He had arranged for a meeting between us and his friend Don, whom Frank is sure will help us with connections. We drove over the beautiful Crescent City Connection to Cafe Reconcile. A crowd of retired white folks outside who were literally bussed in from some hotel raved about the food and the service. Good. Reconcile Cafe is in Central City and employs at-risk youths and trains them up to work in the hospitality industry.
There are so many neighborhoods that have names that I don’t know. I started hearing about Central City after Ka-ka-ka-trina. Reading about it in the blogs while still in London. Where the hell is that? I asked myself. Well, it’s Dryads Street, which is now Oretha Castle Harvey Blvd. Changed its name from tree nymphs to civil rights leader. I wonder anyway where the whole greek mythology theme came from what with Caliope and Elysian Fields and that.
I used to drive through Central City every day on my way to Loyola. I’d drive from Gentilly where I was living with my Aunt Velma to Bywater to pick up Mark at St. Cecilia where he was living with Ronnie. Then we’d drive all the way down Rampart cross over the Ponchetrain Expressway and then onto Dryads. It was a beautiful decaying street then, and it ended in the YMCA, which was a beautiful decaying building. I always wanted to live in that building. It’s a school now. And there’s the Zeitgeist Theatre and a voter registration center down there.
I had smothered okra, green beans and cornbread. Yummy. This time, I went in armed with my own tupperware for my gator bag.

After, Frank drove us around through Mid City, City Park, Bayou St. John, Lakeview, Lake Vista, Gentilly and the Marigny. It was like doing a state of the union on New Orleans neighborhoods. I did this the last time I came here in December of 2006. Things still look pretty fucked up, so the afternoon had a bittersweet tinge to it.

Go here for a comprehensive article about Central City.

4 Comments so far

  1. Laureen Lentz (no_laureen) on September 29th, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

    Woops, it’s Dryades with an E.

    Central City is more fucked up than you can imagine. Perhaps you noticed all the fake/shuttered churches in the area as well as phony Non Profit Orgs which were previous Jefferson cash cows? Now they have been getting money to demolish the properties they were supposed to use taxpayer money to rehabilitate in much of the area since Katrina, again, with taxpayer money, mind you.

    The housing projects are being torn down as well but that’s not as bad as the individual blight which permeates Central City. It’s barely a neighborhood anymore at all. And much more of it is slated for demolition. Much of it was non-profits who posed as low-income housing developers and who are largely corrupt. Raking in money and not renovating any housing.

    It’s so close to downtown, it should be thriving as well as the Garden District since it got little water in Katrina. It’s a real hard thing to look at these days.

    Cafe Reconcile is one of the few hopes left in the area. Great food. You’re gonna gain 10 lbs being back. . . sorry to correct you, feel free to delete this, I just didn’t want you to look like a tourist. Central City is an ideal location for redevelopment post-K being so close to downtown. Now, it’s a depressing and sorry-ass wasteland more than prior to Katrina. Baronne St. has lost blocks of property to fire and blight, huge beautiful homes owned by people like http://www.patinconstruction.com/ who own the two or three properties left at Baronne and MLK which are crumbling.

    It’s a micrcosm of hell in there. Poppy Z. Brite writes from there. http://docbrite.livejournal.com/

  2. Daneeta Loretta (daneeta) on September 29th, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

    Hey Laureen. Don’t want to delete your comment! Thanks for chiming in. My spelling is dreadful, and I appreciate the correction and more discussion about Central City. It’s a shame that this historic neighborhood is losing its character.

  3. termite on September 30th, 2008 @ 10:31 am

    Daneeta, did you mean ‘Lake Terrace’??? — Lake Vista had minimal damage as a result of Katrina.

    *and I think City Park is looking awesome. growing up with the park as my backyard, it’s finally getting the attention she well deserves. :)

    Geaux Saints!

  4. nolapeter on October 1st, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

    Thank you Termite for your comment – there were many of us who cheered when you wrote it! You stand correct, Lake Vista was the one section in Lakeview that was barely touched by the hurricane. We were up and running in no time after the storm. And yes again, City Park is looking lovely.

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