Long before the neighborhood had its own popular HBO series, the Tremé was already heralded as a vital American landmark for African-American and Creole culture. Many consider the Tremé to be the cultural heart of New Orleans, and the neighborhood's contributions to the American arts can be witnessed in disciplines from dance to music to architectural design. The Tremé celebrates its rich history and heritage with museums, tours and landmarks dedicated to preserving one of the United States oldest African-American and free people of color neighborhoods.
Separated from the French Quarter by Rampart Street, all you have to do is look for the arch of Louis Armstrong Park on Rampart Street, and you'll know that you've found the Tremé. The 32-acre Armstrong Park is the neighborhood's dominant landmark. Within its gates you'll find the legendary Congo Square where the enslaved, free people of color, Europeans and Americans gathered throughout the 18th and 19th century on Sundays to drum, dance and trade. Here, African dance, rhythms and drum beats survived despite oppression and contributed to the first forms of jazz music and modern American dance.
Armstrong Park is also home to the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts which hosts the Louisiana Philharmonic, New Orleans Opera Association, dance performances and Broadway Across America productions. The 2,100-seat theater offers a wide-range of entertainment, so make sure to check out their calendar whenever you're in town!
But there is much more to Tremé than Armstrong Park. At the corner of Governor Nichols and St. Claude Avenue, stands the impressive St. Augustine Church. Founded in 1842 and established by free people of color, it is the oldest African-American Catholic Church in the country. Just a few blocks away, anchored by the beautiful Tremé Villa, is the New Orleans African-American Museum.
The neighborhood is also home to St. Louis Cemetery #1. Created in 1789, the cemetery is located at Basin Street and St. Louis Street and is one of New Orleans' most famous "cities of the dead." St. Louis No. 1 was immortalized in the film Easy Rider and is the final resting place of civil rights activist Homer Plessy and New Orleans' most famous Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.
So when planning your trip to New Orleans, make time for the Tremé where you'll find history, mystery and more. Guided tours of the Tremé neighborhood, such as the Treme and Mardi Gras Indian Cultural Tours, as well as St. Louis Cemetery are available and are strongly recommended in order to fully appreciate this complex and intriguing neighborhood. Learn more by visiting the Faubourg Treme Association.
Free People of Color- those of African descent who were not enslaved. In New Orleans, free people of color were skilled craftsmen, musicians and entrepreneurs and made significant contributions to the city's culture.
Creole- broad cultural group of people with European ancestry and possibly mixed race.
Mahalia Jackson Theater: www.mahaliajacksontheater.com
African American Museum www.noaam.org
Treme and Mardi Gras Indian Cultural Tours www.tremeindiantours.com
Faubourg Treme Association: www.faubourgtreme.org