A shell of its former vibrant self, the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood is still dotted with the abandoned houses and overrun, empty lots that serve as reminders of the devastating impacts of Hurricane Katrina. The working class and predominantly African American neighborhood suffered the worst impacts of the 2005 storm, with floodwaters reaching 12 feet in some places, lifting houses from their foundations.
Visitors to the region today will find some reminders of that troubled time—a handful of eerie search team marks still adorn garage and home doors—but the vibe in the Lower Ninth today is one of hope, inspiration, and resilience. Revitalization and repopulation has been painstakingly slow, but new construction is taking place, including more than 100 ultramodern and energy-efficient homes built by a foundation headed by the actor Brad Pitt.
Other popular Lower Ninth Ward sites include the Fats Domino House (1208 Caffin Ave.), actually a recording studio for the famed French Creole pianist and singer-songwriter; the striking, Victorian-style “steamboat houses” (Egania Street), which withstood some of the storm’s worst impacts; the Jackson Barracks Military Museum (6400 St. Claude Ave.) featuring military artifacts, weapons and memorabilia owned by the Louisiana National Guard; and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum (1235 Deslonde Street) with displays and oral histories from neighborhood residents.
The Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans is in the easternmost downriver portion of New Orleans and is connected downtown and the rest of the city by a bridge over the Industrial Canal. Several tour outfits offer walking or driving tours that explain the differences in the landscape since Hurricane Katrina. Bicycle rentals for self-exploration are also available in the area.