America's Oldest African American Neighborhood
Faubourg is a French term meaning '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 also the site of significant economic, cultural, political, social, and legal events that have shaped the course of events in Black America for the past two centuries.
New Orleans' Tremé neighborhood is geographically the part of the city that lies between North Rampart and North Broad, and from Canal Street to St. Bernard Avenue. The area received its namesake from Claude Tremé, a model hat maker and real estate developer who migrated from Saugivny in Burgundy, France, and settled in New Orleans in 1783. Tremé owned only a small portion of the area that bore his name and was in possession of it for just a decade.
In later years, free persons of color and eventually those African slaves who obtained, bought, or bargained for their freedom were able to acquire and own property in Tremé. There are hundreds of examples of 18th and early 19th century ownership of large and small land areas in Faubourg Tremé by free persons 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.
The Tremé Today
Today, New Orleans' Tremé neighborhood is the locale for visitors and natives alike to celebrate the achievements of African Americans. Various celebrations like second-line parades and jazz funerals are only a few of the lively ways Tremé honors its heritage. Scholars and historians have shared their immense knowledge with New Orleans residents and now Tremé 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.
The Tremé is still one of the major hotbeds for live music in New Orleans. This neighborhood invented jazz, and today it is still dotted with underground music clubs. Favorites include the Candlelight Lounge and the Andrews family’s famous Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar.