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  • Algiers Point

    Where you are standing now is the neighborhood known as Algiers Point, taking its name from the bend in the Mississippi where the river reaches depths of about 200 feet deep. Not only does “The Point” have terrific views of downtown, it also enjoys a unique history of its own beginning in 1719, shortly after New Orleans was settled. Once called “slaughterhouse point”, because of a large slaughter house in operation, and the “right bank of the river”, this neighborhood received the name of Algiers around 1840. Algiers was the location for a powder magazine (as Powder Street attests) and the local economy was powered by the dry dock and railroad businesses in the early to mid-1800's. New Orleans also was a major slave port and this area was a holding ground for newly arriving enslaved West Africans before they were sold across the river. Cajun people also arrived here, following deportation from Nova Scotia, and were sent upriver to settle the swamps, bayous, and prairies of South Louisiana. In the years following the Civil War, Algiers experienced great growth, surviving hardships like the Great Fire of 1895, when over 200 homes and businesses were destroyed. Today, Algiers Point is a vibrant neighborhood known for its charm, diversity, classic New Orleans architecture, and ferry access to the French Quarter. Many important New Orleans jazz, blues, and rhythm and blues artists were born in or have called Algiers home. This list includes blues singer and guitarist Memphis Minnie, tenor saxophone great Lester Young, ground breaking trumpeter Henry “Red” Allen, influential clarinetist George Lewis, Rhythm and Blues musician Clarence “Frogman” Henry, and trumpeter “Kid” Thomas Valentine. Musical families like the Manetta, Adams, Matthews and Bocage families continued the New Orleans tradition of passing along a love of music to younger family members. Benevolent societies, and later, social aid and pleasure clubs provided brass band funerals and other parades in Algiers as was also common on the East Bank of the river. It was primarily African American benevolent societies and later, social aid and pleasure clubs, who kept the tradition of brass band funerals from dying in the early 1900’s. Even today, when a member of one of these groups or a jazz musician passes, they are usually honored with a brass band, or jazz funeral. Henry Allen’s Brass Band, the Excelsior Brass Band, and the pre –jazz Pickwick Brass Band were a few of the brass bands that paraded frequently and contained Algiers musicians. The Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indian gang can also be found singing call & response chants and songs through the streets of Algiers on Mardi Gras day. Mardi Gras Indians are groups of African Americans who pay homage to both the African and Native American warrior spirit though elaborate sewn ‘suits’ and African influenced rhythms and singing. Today, Algiers remains home to many jazz musicians who enjoy a quick ferry ride to downtown gigs and through their passion, keep our musical heritage alive. To learn more about some of Algiers’, and other New Orleans ground breaking musicians, download the free Jazz Walk of Fame Tour and take a stroll along the Robert E. Nims Jazz Walk of Fame. The tour highlights some of the musicians honored on each lamppost with biographical information and musical examples of these jazz giants. .