educates visitors on the history of the population in New Orleans.
Now, Bayou Road’s brick-lined, odd-angled presence reminds the Esplanade Avenue traveler of the invisible ridge that inspired both thoroughfares.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Bayou Road was known for its concentration of free people of color who owned numerous lots along its diagonal reach.
Near its intersection with Esplanade, Le Musée de f.p.c.
Within the past few years, the Afro-Louisiana Historical and Genealogical Society erected a plaque on the neutral ground at the intersection of Esplanade and Chartres.
The plaque informs visitors that Solomon Northup, a free African-American man from New York and author of the 1853 memoir that inspired the 2013 film of the same name, was held in one of the pens along the avenue before he was sold into slavery in 1841 and eventually sent to work in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.Esplanade Avenue stretches roughly 3 miles from the banks of the Mississippi River to the geographic heart of New Orleans at the edge of City Park.Described as a “storehouse of 19th-century architectural types and styles,” it forms the downriver edge of the French Quarter before passing through some of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.Ornate mansions shoulder modest shotguns shoulder squat Creole cottages all along its reach. Here, ghosting beneath the residences, is the former site of a complex of slave pens—private jails that housed slaves before they were sold off to planters—that made up one of the city’s most active slave-trading sites from 1840 to 1862.Before the Civil War, New Orleans was the largest slave market in America, and the French Quarter riverfront was the center of activity.Bernard and Claiborne avenues, a few blocks from Esplanade.Its title harkens back to the traffic circle that once existed at that intersection and that I-10 later demolished.Strangely shaped lots created by the convergence of Esplanade’s orthogonal grid and Bayou Road’s older, diagonal one—like the triangular Alcée Fortier Park in the Bayou St.John neighborhood—intermittently flank Esplanade Avenue as it crosses Broad Street and heads toward City Park.As Esplanade leaves the Quarter behind and makes its way toward City Park, it intersects Claiborne Avenue.Claiborne’s traffic roars by both at ground level and along the elevated highway, Interstate 10, propped along its spine.