Like everything in New Orleans, Algiers Point celebrates a cast of characters in this historic hamlet across the river from NOLA.
From long-time locals with their own vernacular-style accents, one that can never be imitated, to the Europeans who paid a visit, fell in love and never left. Be it the Brits, Italians or Germans, you can expect multiple conversations with complete strangers while strolling the Point’s shaded sidewalks.
Celebrating its tri-centennial, the Point sits on the West Bank of the Mississippi River directly across from the New Orleans skyline. The French founded this curvaceous piece of land until the Spanish took it over and sold off the property to private owners. It flourished from a planter’s paradise with opulent mansions to a mecca of maritime and railroad industries. Immigrants joined the Point after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and in 1870 the city of New Orleans annexed the town of Algiers.
It continues to be a diverse, eclectic burb of New Orleans that still boasts its 19th-century river town ambiance. Rimmed by levees, an earthen fortress that holds back the river’s swollen waters, locals and visitors are drawn to the stunning vista of river traffic. From paddleboats and cruise liners to huge tankers and container ships; it’s a peek into the country’s busiest port.
Algiers Point is a historic hamlet where neighbors take care of neighbors, a familial kinship exists in churches, schools, a library, the courthouse and even corner pubs filled with patrons sipping pints with dogs by their side.
It’s home to passionate artists and entrepreneurs that have opened galleries and businesses in old theaters and storefronts. Both young and old restore nineteenth and early twentieth-century shotguns and Creole cottages dressed in pastel colors and gingerbread woodwork. Massive oaks hold company with wide-leaf banana trees while the scent of sweet olive rides the river’s breezes.
Perhaps one of the best storytellers is Kevin Herridge, co-founder and past president of the Algiers Historical Society. Their website offers three self-guided walking tours authored by Herridge and Judi Robertson featuring architectural info on historic homes as well as the history of Algiers Jazz musicians. Don’t miss the recently renovated Algiers Courthouse; built in 1896 it includes an Algiers Jazz exhibit in the foyer.
A self-professed “decent chap” from East London, Herridge moved to the Point in 1998 with his wife, Wendy Portier, a local who Kevin fell in love with on his first trip to New Orleans. They own a Bed & Breakfast called The House of the Rising Sun, a favorite of repeat customers from the US, Europe and Canada. He’s a world traveler, aging Hippie, Mardi Gras reveler, triangle player, and man about town with a wealth of stories from the buried treasures of artifacts along the levee to depression-era jazz musicians who once played in Algiers.
Music filters throughout the Herridge home on both vinyl and CDs. The sun porch titled, “Jelly Roll’s Jumpin’ Juke Joint,” is a big hit with guests. Gazing at the ceiling there are hundreds of beer bottle caps, okay, maybe thousands, along with vinyl records fixed to the wood-paneled ceiling. Jelly Roll would have been proud.
When asked what he likes best about living on the Point for the last twenty years, Herridge repeated much of what everyone says, even those who have been living here for decades. “Hubbell Library presentations, walking the levee and enjoying the best view, day or night, of the French Quarter. Friends and neighbors, walking my dog, Boudin the Wonder Dog, and enjoying the historic architecture, tree-lined streets and the neighborhood gardens.”
Pelican Avenue hosts a neighborhood favorite, a historic Carnegie library named after Cita Dennis Hubbell. Cita was a trailblazer committed to keeping the library open, it’s a place where the community gathers to hear music, listen to authors and learn about the history of the Point.
Jogging and a biking trail atop the levee are very popular. Residents can be found spreading a blanket on the clover fields and indulging with wine and food, while others sit on the park benches soaking in the New Orleans skyline. On occasion, you may find a gent on bended knee proposing to his lady. It’s that kind of place.
Algiers has their own concerts, bonfires and fireworks on the batture, the land along the riverbanks, of course only after the river recedes. Everyone is welcome; just bring a chair, blanket and a pair of good dancing shoes.
Check out the Old Point Bar, a favorite of Hollywood producers. Sip a cold one outside and watch a parade of boats stream down the river or check out the walls lined with photos of movie stars. Enjoy a mish-mash of local lore and a dingy game room with pool table and dartboard.
Not far from the pub is Linken Park, enjoy a shady respite gazing out at the second-line levee mural. Along the winding walkway is a punching bag where a muscular gent enjoys a morning workout, and with every jab is a chorus of whispered wisdom.
Just steps from Confetti Park, a popular gathering place for children and their parents is One Stone, a coffee shop/restaurant, at the corner of Verret and Pelican. Dressed in an upbeat-mod décor, reminiscent of a mid-century lunch counter, it’s a spacious space with local art and antique birdcages. Start the day with breakfast and odds are you’ll be back for lunch.
Locals and those fresh off the ferry looking for a cold pint head to Crown and Anchor Pub. Bit of a small pub but big on characters, patrons enter through a “Dr. Who” phone booth. Inside is a dartboard that gains some heated competition, and a hodgepodge of soccer and cricket photos plastered here and there. Out back is a roomy patio, the perfect place for Herridge’s 70th birthday party and crawfish boil.
On Vallette Street rests the vintage façade of a 1940 Art Deco movie theater with the title of the latest feature, “Rosetree Blown Glass Studio and Gallery.” Visitors step inside the lobby, past the original terrazzo stairs, to a cinematic display of color and pageantry. Each piece has its own unique flair, a theatrical journey from the celestial waves of a fluted bowl to the whimsical pastels of a teardrop vase.
Owner, and glassblowing artist for decades, Mark Rosenbaum, conducts classes on glassblowing each weekend except for the hot months of summer. Individuals, couples and even groups sign up to create their own unique piece of artistry.
“We started because it was a great way to showcase our work and give our customers a better understanding and appreciation as to what we do here and how glass is made,” explained Rosenbaum who opened his studio on the Point in 1996. “Algiers Point has the feel of a village from the 50s. Instead of coming home from work and shutting out the world behind them, neighbors are out sitting on their porches, walking dogs, or pushing strollers.”
It is the people of the Point that make it so special. From long-bearded chaps strumming guitars on porch stoops to families strolling their babies to the nearby park. Friendly folks are eager to extend that New Orleans style-welcome, share the history and beauty of their bohemian village.
Written and Photographed by Deborah Burst
225 Morgan St.
725 Pelican Avenue
Sunset against New Orleans Skyline
View from the Levee Walk/Bike trail
One Stone Restaurant
323 Verret St.
Travolino Pizza & Lounge
141 Delaronde St.
Dry Dock Café
133 Delaronde St.
Appetite Repair Shop
400 Vallette St.
Beatrixbell Handcrafted Jewelry & Gift
337 Morgan St., Suite A
Rosetree Blown Glass Studio and Gallery
446 Vallette St.
Congregation Coffee Roasters
240 Pelican Avenue
House of the Rising Sun B&B
335 Pelican Avenue
Casa Pelican B&B
712 Pelican Avenue
Bed and Breakfast on the Point
405 Delaronde St.
Music at Old Point Bar
Algiers Tri-centennial events
Self-guided tours of Algiers
Casa Pelican Cooking School
Algiers Point Ferry