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Carrollton: Many small neighborhoods

CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPH

The drive down Carrollton Avenue winds past antebellum homes with graceful columns shoulder to shoulder with a variety of small businesses and a diversity of restaurants, churches and coffee shops all existing peacefully together.

It’s a most pleasant ride to take the streetcar starting where Carrollton begins at the Riverbend shopping district and winding through the city ending at Bayou St. John and City Park. The streetcar line offers direct access to many amenities as it crosses Claiborne Avenue at Palmer Park; continues through Canal Street, passing an Italian restaurant and an Italian ice cream and pastry shop; and finally ends at the New Orleans Museum of Art at City Park.

Although the avenue is lined with some of the stateliest mansions in the city, Carrollton also has charming bungalows, revenue-producing doubles and renovated houses that are for sale. And no matter what kind of house you buy in this neighborhood, you can be almost assured that it will have some of the desirable features that the Carrollton housing stock has in common: 12- to 14-foot ceilings in large rooms, wide pine floors and perhaps pocket doors or a graceful front porch.

The Carrollton neighborhood includes two commercial sections: the Riverbend, where Carrollton and St. Charles avenues meet, offering a proliferation of quaint boutiques along Hampson and Dublin streets, and Oak Street, with its antique shops, drugstores and financial institutions. Both sections offer a wide variety of restaurants, from fine dining to specialty hamburger restaurants.

The Carrollton neighborhood occupies an area originally acquired in 1719 by Le Sieur de Bienville, the founder of New Orleans, stretching from the Orleans-Jefferson line to Broadway and from Airline Highway to the Mississippi River. It’s generally considered to encompass the smaller neighborhoods of Hollygrove, Gert Town, Palm-Air and Black Pearl.

After the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad began operating in 1835, rural Carrollton experienced rapid growth, and a courthouse was constructed on Carrollton Avenue between Maple and Hampson streets. When Carrollton was annexed by New Orleans in 1874, the structure was renovated for use as a school, and it has housed numerous schools since that time, including Benjamin Franklin High School. A levee was built in 1853 to protect the city from flooding and extended from Monticello Avenue to Fern Street.

Although some of its magnificent oak trees were damaged during Hurricane Katrina, this neighborhood escaped the worst of the flooding because it was founded mostly on high ground, it’s close to the river and it offers plenty of raised houses.

Today, the oaks still offer a canopy of shade to drivers down the avenue, and with its mixture of small businesses and residences, Carrollton is a most desirable place in which to live.

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