TREME: From Congo Square to Everywhere

A place of pride and refuge for New Orleans’ free people of color who could buy property there, the Faubourg Treme – as far back as its founding in the 18th Century – served as a cultural rendezvous between the worlds of white and Black while its back streets birthed a music that conquered the world.

Bulldozed but not forgotten, the infamous Storyville red-light district flourished in the Treme’s upper stretches while St. Augustine Church remains the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the country. 

Treme is also the home of St. James AME Church, the oldest AME church in the south, established in 1844.

Today, jazz is celebrated in Armstrong Park, named in tribute to Louis Armstrong, and in Congo Square – where the enslaved  once gathered to make music and maintain their cultural traditions.

Similar beats are heard today seeping from tiny clubs, booming out in joyous seconds line or in the eerie drumming of the skeleton krewe emerging at dawn on Mardi Gras Day to wake the sleeping. 

Unfortunately, in the years since hurricane Katrina, Treme has not escaped the tide of gentrification that is changing and challenging historically Black neighborhoods across the country. Once home to many working class residents, Treme – the birthplace of jazz and one of the oldest Black neighborhoods in the country – is now the site of some of the most expensive real estate in New Orleans with rising property values, higher taxes and the influx of more affluent residents forcing longtime business owners and residents out of the historic community.