Across Rampart Street from the French Quarter, the Faubourg
Tremé neighborhood is arguably the most important location for
African American culture in New Orleans. Closely associated with
traditional jazz and "second line" parading, Tremé is now the
setting for an eponymous television series created by David Simon
(best known for his work on The Wire).
Michael Crutcher argues that Tremé's story is essentially
spatial-a story of how neighborhood boundaries are drawn and take
on meaning and of how places within neighborhoods are made and
unmade by people and politics. Tremé has long been sealed off from
more prominent parts of the city, originally by the fortified walls
that gave Rampart Street its name, and so has become a refuge for
less powerful New Orleanians. This notion of Tremé as a safe
haven-the flipside of its reputation as a "neglected" place-has
been essential to its role as a cultural incubator, Crutcher
argues, from the antebellum slave dances in Congo Square to jazz
pickup sessions at Joe's Cozy Corner.
Tremé takes up a wide range of issues in urban life,
including highway construction, gentrification, and the role of
public architecture in sustaining collective memory. Equally
sensitive both to black-white relations and to differences within
the African American community, it is a vivid evocation of one of
America's most distinctive places.
Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology, Political Science
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