The Esplanade Ridge Historic District was established in 1979 to combat historic building demolitions, blight, and the negative impacts of the new elevated I-10 Claiborne Avenue Expressway.
The Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) designated the Esplanade Ridge Historic District in February 1979. It was at that time the largest under HDLC jurisdiction, encompassing the length of tree-lined Esplanade Avenue from North Claiborne Avenue to Bayou St. John (“one of the finest 19th century streets to be found in the South,” according to Preservation Press),as well as sections of the Tremé, Esplanade Ridge, and Faubourg St. John neighborhoods.¹ It is notable for its grand nineteenth-century residences on Esplanade Avenue in a variety of architectural styles and its denser, low-rise residential enclaves along secondary streets.² In the 1960s and 1970s, the neighborhood’s historic fabric suffered due to the construction of the elevated I-10 Claiborne Expressway along North Claiborne Avenue, historic building demolitions, crime, blight, and weak zoning laws.³ In 1977, the Friends of the Cabildo published New Orleans Architecture, Volume V: The Esplanade Ridge in order to spotlight the historic significance of the avenue and the damage it had suffered.⁴ Preservation-minded residents fought for the 1979 HDLC district designation, and in June 1980 the district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.⁵ In 1998, a portion of the district was re-designated as the Treme Historic District.⁶
Today, the HDLC has full control over the section of the district along Esplanade Avenue, while those areas flanking the avenue are regulated only for demolition and demolition by neglect.⁷
1. Mark Hilzim, “Marigny-Esplanade Historic Districts,” Preservation Press 6 no. 4 (April 1979): 2.
2. Dominique Hawkins and Catherine E. Barrier, “City of New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission: Esplanade Ridge Historic District,” May 2011.
3. Danielle Del Sol, “Living with History in New Orleans’ Neighborhoods: Esplanade Ridge,” prcno.org.
4. Mary Louise Christovich, Sally Kittredge Evans, and Roulhac Toledano, New Orleans Architecture, Volume V: The Esplanade Ridge (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, 1977).
5. Del Sol, “Living with History in New Orleans’ Neighborhoods: Esplanade Ridge”; Christine Moe, “Treme and Esplanade Ridge,” Your Opinions: Letters, The Times-Picayune, March 10, 1980; and Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation, “Esplanade Ridge Historic District,” National Register of Historic Places, June 30, 1980.
6. Frank Donze, “Council OKs Treme Historic District, Esplanade Ridge group says goodbye to chunk of jurisdiction,” The Times-Picayune, October 7, 1998.
7. Hawkins and Barrier, “City of New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission: Esplanade Ridge Historic District.”