My barber in New Orleans works a few blocks from Preservation Hall. His building sits across from the French Quarter, tucked inside the Tremé. He’s got this fat painting of Louis Armstrong sitting by the door, above a replica of that photo featuring Harlem Renaissance authors posted on a stoop; and, just under that frame, there’s a deed for the property, which my barber calls the remnant of a black neighborhood turned blue.
Faubourg Tremé was the first town of free black people in the States. It was founded at the close of the eighteenth century, back when New Orleans held most of Louisiana’s emancipated people of color. The city then was a smoothy of black and Latin influence, and the Tremé testifies to that tradition—but you can only notice its history, my barber swears, if you knew about it before you got here. Read More