Top 10 Great Neighborhoods

Top tenThe American Planning Association announced that the Faubourg Marigny has been designated one of 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2009 by APA’s Great Places in America program. It is the only Louisiana neighborhood to receive this distinction.

“We are truly honored to have been chosen as a Great Neighborhood” President of FMIA Chris Costello noted, “our residents work hard to keep our neighborhood friendly and open to visitors while sharing everything there is to offer in its unique sense of place, local citizen activism, historic architecture with social and cultural diversity.”

Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and authentic characteristics found in three essential components of all communities: streets, neighborhoods and public spaces. APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live every day, places that are enjoyable, safe and desirable. Such places are defined by many characteristics, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality and community involvement.

Originally a plantation owned by free people of color, with the sale of the first lots in 1805, the Marigny has historically embraced people of all cultures. The still diverse neighborhood offers a close knit, affordable community to its residents and business owners.

The neighborhood’s street layout is unusual in that it was designed to accommodate a 135-degree bend in the Mississippi River. Faubourg Marigny’s 1805 plan, produced by engineer Nicholas de Finiels, included a “rotated grid system” so streets could be continued from the adjacent Vieux Carre neighborhoods. This system allows the neighborhood to have unfolding views of the streetscape.

The Marigny is as diverse architecturally as it is socially. The Preservation Plan for Faubourg Marigny developed in 1971 by the Tulane School of Architecture under the leadership of Eugene Cizek began the revitalization of the neighborhood. The founding of the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association in 1972 carried out Cizek’s master plan. Coupled with residents’ activism and willingness to embrace historic property guidelines and controls, such as the 1970 Historic Marigny Zoning Ordinance, the neighborhood has entered a new period of continuing prosperity. The neighborhoods eclectic character can be seen in its housing, including brightly painted Creole shotgun cottages. Built closely together on small lots, this pattern defines the scale and character of most streets. Italianate, Craftsman and Greek Revival architectural styles also exist. Given the importance of the neighborhood’s unique residential architecture, Faubourg Marigny was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Restoration continues at a rapid pace as houses are refit for life in the twenty first century.

Faubourg Marigny’s unique character and diverse residents have not kept it from economic ups and downs. After World War II younger residents unable to get financing for renovations moved to the newly emerging suburbs while other residents remained. As owner occupancy declines so did the neighborhood.

With a history of community activism, the Marigny’s character has been preserved due in large part to the residents’ willingness to embrace land-use regulations and guidelines designed to maintain and improve the neighborhood’s quality of life. The Marigny holds numerous events and festivals throughout the year to promote the friendly community: the popular spring home tour is in its 39th year, the 25th annual Candlelight Christmas Caroling and the 4th annual fall walking tour all of which takes place in Washington Square

The nine other APA 2009 Great Neighborhoods are:

Pasadena, California - Bungalow Heaven
Lincoln, Nebraska - The Haymarket
Kenmore, New York - Village of Kenmore
Fargo, North Dakota - Downtown Fargo
Portland, Oregon - Ladd's Addition
Franklin, Tennessee - Downtown Franklin Historic District
Houston, Texas - Montrose
Newport News, Virginia - Historic Hilton Village
Spokane, Washington - Browne's Addition

For more information about these neighborhoods, as well as lists of the 2009 APA 10 Great Streets and 10 Great Public Places visit, www.planning.org/greatplaces.