Tremé Bicentennial: Celebrating America’s Oldest African American Neighborhood

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  • While many around the country know Tremé as the title of an acclaimed television series, closer to home we know that it's much, much more than that.

    Incorporated in 1812, Faubourg Tremé (faubourg is French for “suburb”) was the first free black neighborhood in the United States. It is also the neighborhood that gave rise to jazz, brass bands, incredible architecture, Mardi Gras Indians, and several pioneers of the civil rights movement.

    Two centuries later, Tremé is the site of several key cultural institutions (see below). And it is still home to a dynamic community that continues to evolve the very traditions that make New Orleans unique.

    Bicentennial Events and Activities
    A year of concerts, exhibitions, festivals, media tours, parades, lectures, performances, and other events are planned to honor Tremé’s 200th anniversary.

    Visit Treme2012.com to learn more — and join in the second line as New Orleans celebrates two centuries of this treasured neighborhood!

    A Trip To Tremé
    There are several museums and attractions that showcase the unique heritage of Faubourg Tremé. Here are a few to get you started:

    New Orleans African American Museum of Art, Culture & History
    1418 Governor Nicholls St.
    www.thenoaam.org
    NOAAM is housed in what is said to be one of the finest examples of Creole villa construction, the Meilleur-Goldthwaite house. This elegant raised cottage is now the backdrop for important exhibitions of art by traditional and contemporary African American artists.

    Backstreet Cultural Museum
    1116 St. Claude St.
    www.backstreetmuseum.org
    This museum celebrates several traditions original to New Orleans and Tremé: jazz funerals, second line parades, and Mardi Gras Indians. The museum's collection of Mardi Gras Indian costumes is the city's largest, offering a unique insight into this magnificent and colorful form of street theater.

    St. Augustine Catholic Church
    1210 Governor Nicholls St.
    www.staugustinecatholicchurch-neworleans.org
    St. Augustine Church is known as the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the United States where members included civil rights activist Homer Plessy and A. P. Tureaud. On its grounds is the “Tomb of the Unknown Slave.”

    Congo Square and Armstrong Park
    801 N. Rampart St.
    Armstrong Park is an impressive public garden complete with waterways and sculptures of iconic New Orleans music greats. Within the park is Congo Square, a place where slaves and free people of color played African music and performed dance customs when most states outlawed such expressions.

    St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2
    425 Basin St.
    www.saveourcemeteries.org
    St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2 are two of New Orleans’ most famous “Cities of the Dead,” and both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A number of notable persons are buried in these cemeteries, including musicians, war heroes, the famous “Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau, Homer Plessy, and Ernest “Dutch” Morial, the first African American mayor of New Orleans.

    Perseverance Hall in Armstrong Park
    U.S. National Park Service’s New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
    www.nps.gov/jazz
    Learn about the history of jazz near the very spot where it got its start.
     

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