Fazendeville at the Chalmette National Battlefield

Finally, a free afternoon on a sunny day! I took the Surly out, no particular destination-my most favorite sort of ride. I decided to hit up the delightfully smooth (minus the train tracks at Press St.) St. Claude bike lane. After dodging a number of cars using the lane for its fine double parking opportunities, I finally reached the St. Bernard Parish line. I rode over to the Chalmette National Battlefield, mostly because I’ve been here before and know they’ve got a bathroom (yep, still there). The place is also absolutely beautiful. As long as you don’t look around too much. I took this picture of the main battlefield, which, according to this plaque that’s suffering severe water damage, is also the site of Fazendeville, an African American community established in 1867 by a Creole businessman who bought an old plantation that he split in to parcels and sold to recently-freed blacks right after the Civil War. The feds seized the land in 1964, via eminent domain, for this lovely spot for this memorial to this last major battle of the War of 1812. That means that Fazendeville was here for almost 100 years. That’s a really long time. The families from this neighborhood moved to the Lower Ninth Ward and restablished their community there. The sign reads, “They continued to be a social and symbolic community until Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.” I will now commence an understatement: how odd to read about people–who are still rebuilding their lives–as an historical artifact. How odd that I’ve not heard of Fazendeville until now. And how odd that we’re all pretending that’s not a whole lot of Industry over there messing up the view, and, well, maybe some other stuff too. There’s a lot to think about here. I’ll need to ride out here quite a few more times.

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