New Streetcar Line Along Historic New Orleans Neighborhoods To Open Sunday

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans' newest streetcar line will open Sunday, carrying riders along the edge of the French Quarter and part of an adjacent neighborhood.

         The 1.3-mile route along Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue also passes historic neighborhoods where French, Spanish, free people of color and former slaves built homes in the 1800s, just outside the original city limits of New Orleans.

         It's the city's first new streetcar line since 2013 and will extend that downtown line, which connects the Amtrak train and Greyhound bus station, the Superdome and the French Quarter along Loyola Avenue.

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         It will pass between the French Quarter and Treme, which has been described as the nation's oldest black neighborhood — St. Augustine Catholic Church was built there in 1841 for free people of color. The neighborhood was dramatized in the HBO series "Treme" and described in the documentary "Faubourg Treme — The Untold Story of Black New Orleans."

         The line ends where the Faubourg Marigny and the St. Roch neighborhood meet. "The Marigny," between the Mississippi River and the streetcar line just east of the French Quarter, was developed in 1805 as New Orleans' second suburb. Just north of that is St. Roch, another antebellum neighborhood of free people of color.

         In the 1920s, New Orleans had 225 miles of streetcar lines. Only one of them survived: the route where 93-year-old cars with mahogany seats rumble beneath the huge oaks along St. Charles Avenue. That 13.2-mile line and its streetcars were placed on the list of National Historic Landmarks in 2014.

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         New Orleans Regional Transit Authority said the Rampart Street line's opening is among several changes to begin Sunday. Those include adding buses to several routes and doubling the Canal Street streetcar route from a car every 20 minutes to one every 10 minutes. The route runs from the aquarium at the foot of Canal Street to the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park.

         – by AP Reporter Janet McConnaughey


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