America's Oldest African American Neighborhood
Faubourg is a French term that literally means 'suburb' or neighborhood. The Faubourg Tremé or as it is more frequently referred to, Tremé, is not only America's oldest black neighborhood but was the site of significant economic, cultural, political, social and legal events that have literally shaped the course of events in Black America for the past two centuries. Yet, few outside of New Orleans except for scholars and historians know its enormous importance to Americans of African descent.
New Orleans' Tremé neighborhood is geographically is that part of New Orleans that lies between North Rampart and North Broad and from Canal Street to St. Bernard Avenue. The area received its namesake from one Claude Treme, a model hat maker and real estate developer who migrated from Saugivny in Burgundy, France, and settled in New Orleans in 1783. Treme owned only a small portion of the area that bore his name and was in possession of that for just a decade.
In later years, free persons of color and eventually those African slaves who either obtained, bought or bargained for their freedom were able to acquire and own property in Treme. There are hundreds of examples of 18th and early 19th century ownership of large and small land areas in Faubourg Treme by free peoples of color.
The ability to acquire, purchase and own real property during an era when America was still immersed in slavery was remarkable and only in New Orleans did this occur with any regularity and consistency.
Today, New Orleans' Treme neigborhood is the locale for visitors and natives alike to celebrate the achievements of African Americans. Scholars and historians have shared their immense knowledge with New Orleans residents and now Treme is home to several museums dedicated to African American life, art, and history, as well as Armstrong Park, a memorial to the great jazz legend Louis Armstrong.