New Orleans is home to 26 historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Office of Cultural Development, Division of Historic Preservation, National Register) that cover 40 percent of the city’s urbanized area and contain over 45,000 properties. In addition, there are 111 individual historic properties, and 28 National Historic Landmarks, including the Garden District and the St. Charles Streetcar Line. Underground, there are 705 recorded archaeological sites spanning from the Poverty Point Period (1700 B.C.) to the present. These resources must be considered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the City, and the Sewerage and Water Board (SWB) during the restoration of damaged roads. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 sets out a comprehensive program to preserve the historical and cultural foundation of the nation as a living part of community life, and Section 106 of this Act is a crucial part of that program that requires consideration of historic preservation in the many projects with federal involvement, such as this capital improvement program.
Historic Preservation is the effort to use, revitalize and carefully tend the special places that tell the stories of a community’s past and present. These special places in the built environment include the homes, public buildings, churches, schools, and neighborhoods that are part of daily life and also include archaeological resources that evidence past human activity. Preservation efforts help define the community’s identity and the way that people live in the community now and in the past.
HOW IS THE CITY MINIMIZING HARM TO HISTORIC RESOURCES?
- The City hired a staff Archaeologist and a Historic Preservation Specialist to monitor the project and advise the City and SWB on how to avoid damage to cemeteries, archaeological resources, historic streetscapes, and National Historic Landmarks.
- Wherever possible, projects are designed to retain or repair important features of the historic streetscapes, such as street tiles, and granite curbs, or replace them in-kind.
- The City, FEMA, and the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) have entered into an agreement that streamlines the process for review of street repair projects located in historic districts listed or eligible in the National Register of Historic Places. For additional information click here and here.
DOCUMENTING HISTORIC STREETSCAPES
In order to better understand what makes streetscapes in New Orleans special, the City has hired a Historic Preservation Specialist who will inventory items, such as streetlights, stone curbs, street tiles, meter covers, brick or stone paving, and neutral grounds within the public right of way in each historic district.
The framework for this inventory was developed with the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and FEMA. The City will use this information to study how and why street patterns were formed; whether streetscape features are indicative of various transportation modes, such as horse-drawn carriage or electric streetcar; investigate how trends in design and geography influenced the development of streets, pedestrian paths, and streetscape features; what materials were used and why; and how roadside gutters, curbs, streetlights, wayfinding signage, drainage features, neutral grounds and tree canopies, and other small-scale features contribute to the character of the neighborhoods. An online and print publication that captures the results of this study will be available to the general public, residents of historic districts, and planning and historic preservation professionals.
DOCUMENTING ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESOURCES
The City archaeologist will monitor road reconstruction and utility repairs in archaeologically sensitive areas of the city to document discoveries of archaeological resources. The City will also identify the critical gaps in our knowledge of New Orleans’ past and develop an assessment of the archaeological fieldwork in Orleans Parish with a focus on pre-contact, contact, and colonial era archaeological sites. This assessment will provide a basis for future archaeologists to determine which archaeological sites are critical for investigation, and provide content for a teaching module or web-based application.
WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT MAKES YOUR STREET AND NEIGHBORHOOD SPECIAL
To determine if your street is located in a National Register Historic District, clink on the link here.
If you are located within a National Register Historic District, and know of significant historic streetscape features located along your street or in your neighborhood, please:
- Attend the pre-construction community meeting. Check for upcoming meeting dates here.
- Contact the City’s Historic Preservation Specialist, Philip Gilmore, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact us Directly:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What if my street is located within a National Register Historic District?
The City staff will advise the City and SWB on how to avoid damage to historic streetscapes and under certain circumstances may monitor construction activities. Wherever possible, projects in historic districts will be designed to retain or repair important features of the historic streetscapes, such as street tiles, and granite curbs, or replace them in-kind.
What is the difference between a NR Historic District and an HDLC Historic District?
There are two different types of historic districts in the City of New Orleans - National Register districts and locally designated districts. Currently, there are twenty-six listed National Register districts, three districts that are designated National Historic Landmarks, two districts that have been determined by FEMA and SHPO to be eligible for listing on the National Register, and eighteen local districts. Boundaries of the National Register Districts and of the local districts often overlap.
Historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places are selected and administered by SHPO in Baton Rouge, LA and listed by the National Park Service (NPS). The only protection provided by the National Register designation is limited control over federally funded projects. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires Federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties and consult with SHPO and other stakeholders to resolve any adverse effects. Property owners within the historic districts may qualify for the Federal 20% Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program or the State 25% Commercial Tax Credit Program for income-producing buildings; or the State 18.5% Residential Tax Credit Program, for owner-occupied historic structures.
The New Orleans City Council designates local historic districts which are administered by local historic district commissions. Local historic districts protect the buildings and neighborhoods of New Orleans by providing regulations for changes to the exterior of all buildings within the local historic districts, reviewing new construction, demolition requests, and citing owners for "demolition by neglect."