Lakeview - named for its close proximity to Lake Pontchartrain - is a moderately affluent neighborhood filled with frame cottages and brink ranch-style homes. This section of the city is marked as being bound by Lakeshore Drive, Orleans Avenue, City Park Avenue and the Jefferson Parish line. Within this area are four separate neighborhoods: Lakeview, Lakewood, West End and Navarre.
This area was originally owned by the Capuchins, an order of priests. These priests sold the land to Don Almonester y Roxas during the Spanish rule of New Orleans. Mr. Almonester y Roxas is known for rebuilding the St. Louis Cathedral using her personal funds. His daughter was the Baroness Pontalba, who built the famous Pontalba Apartment that flank Jackson Square. Almonester’s properties also included parts of present day City Park, as well as the Lakewood Neighborhood.
After the Almonesters, Alexander Milne acquired most of Lakeview and the lakefront and during this time the New Basin Canal was build by Irish immigrants. It was the main artery from Lake Pontchartrain to other parts of the city – both downtown and uptown. Not only did this canal add to the character of the neighborhood, but also it provided needed transport of many items across the lake. It also served as a boundary between east and west sections of Lakeview.
The Lakeview neighborhood was one of the first residential areas to develop around the beauty and leisure that surrounded the lakefront scenery.
Modern development of Lakeview began with a resort now called West End – originally called New Lake End. This was area was frequented and developed by citizens involved in coastal trade, yachters and boaters between 1835-1876.
In 1880, the New Lake End took the name West End. A hotel, a restaurant, a garden and various amusement parts were built on a large wooden platform constructed over water. The City of New Orleans acquired land from Mexican Gulf Ship Canal, which had begun construction of a harbor, complete with railroad facilities on the embankment at the New Basin Canal and the Seventeenth Street Canal. By 1921, New Orleans had completed improvements and built a seawall 500 feet further out in the lake and filling in the space that later became West End Park.
During this time, drainage of the whole area began. In 1905, the first cottage was constructed in Lakeview on Julia Street - now called West End Boulevard. The house was an office and a tool house for the men clearing the swamps and building new roads. All the swamps were drained by 1909 – draining ditches were installed and streets were ready. The New Orleans Land Company began promoting and selling this land.
Flood and fire is a common theme in New Orleans’ history. Lakeview’s first school was built in 1913 and destroyed by fire two years later. Lakeview School was built in 1915 – the first public school in the area. The first Catholic Church, Ave Maria Chapel, was erected in 1912 and destroyed by a storm in 1915. Another chapel was built at Milne and Harrison in 1917 to replace Ave Maria Chapel. In 1923, St. Dominic’s Church and School were built on Harrison Ave. where they still remain today.
Lots in the area did not sell as quickly as expected. In the early 1900s, the area remained rural, although by 1926, Lakeview had gained prestige. The Depression slowed development in the 1930s, but development picked up in the 1940s and continued until World War II.
After the Second World War, the area underwent a complete modernization. West End Boulevard was completely repaved and buses replaced the streetcar. In 1949, the New Basin Canal was closed. While this decreased industrial uses, a commercial area emerged along Harrison Ave, Canal Boulevard and Robert E. Lee.
A beautiful recreational area is along Lakeshore Drive. On a beautiful weekend afternoon, couples sunning on blankets and family barbeques dot the landscape near Lake Pontchartrain.
In 2005, this area was one of the hardest hit by the flood caused from Hurricane Katrina. Residents and businesses continue to rebuild the area and restore it to a great mix of residential, recreational and commercial use.