New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, June 17, 2024
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Camps and camp dwellers had been a colorful part of our history since the early 1900s.

Camps and camp dwellers had been a colorful part of our history since the early 1900s. There were even restaurants and music clubs in the waterfront community. One of the camps, old timers say, was a popular retreat for Huey Long and his pals.

The first lakefront land available in the city was Edgelake. The area is relatively high ground that fronts the lake for 5 miles between the Industrial Canal, built in 1923, and Little Woods which was a development of the New Orleans Lake Shore Land Company. They built a shell road that stretched from Gentilly to Little Woods along the waterfront.

In...1956 some people referred to the seven-mile stretch of stilt-legged camps that lined the lakefront from New Orleans Airport to Paris Road and beyond "The Poor Man’s Miami Beach."

In March 1956, many of the camps were destined to be destroyed. Then-Levee Board President Louis Roussel said that the camps — built on land owned by the board — would have to go to make room for airport expansion and proposed subdivisions. The camp owners paid no rent but lived there on Levee Board permits. But the plan for tearing down the camps was abandoned because the idea created such a controversy.

The city, however, proved not to be the greatest enemy to the camps. Before Hurricane Georges came to town in September 1998, there were about 120 camps in the area between the Lakefront Airport to Paris Road and Little Woods. The 30 hours of winds and waves destroyed about 80 percent of the camps, some of which were permanent family homes.

Only the pilings are left of most of the fishing camps, weekend getaways, and homes — places with names like Galway’s Groovy Grove, The Palace, Welcome Cottage, and Walkway to Heaven. It is indeed a sad sight to see.

The above is a very brief history of the camps, as found in the 5/1/01 online edition of Gambit Weekly Magazine.