|Storyville and the Birth of Jazz
|Pictured above, in the foreground, one of Tom Anderson's saloons, at the corner
of N. Basin and Iberville Streets. Mr. Anderson was considered the unofficial
"mayor" of Storyville. The arrow in the upper right corner points to Lulu White's
Mahogany Hall. Miss White was sometimes referred to as the Queen of Storyville.
Mahogany Hall was the most expensive "sporting palace" in the District,
constructed primarily of marble and mahogany, and built at a cost of $40,000.
|Heard a bugle blowing in the rain and mist,
A haunting sound over Congo Square;
Thought it was the ghost of Basin Street...
But when I looked, nobody was there.
-- Author Unknown
|Above, Storyville Cribs - Many of the "cribs" were nothing more than partitioned
off areas of townhouses, Creole cottages or shotgun houses. Each crib rented
nightly for $4 and payments for the rooms were usually made to men who ran the
bars/restaurants located on almost every corner in the District. These places
always featured music, as did almost every club, saloon and sporting house.
Many of these houses were owned or had been owned by descendants of the
original Irish, Creole, German or American citizens of the City Commons, who'd
moved out and had begun renting their property even before Storyville came
into being. When the District was created, some of these distinguished citizens
sold their property rather than receive rent from ill-gotten gains, but many
couldn't resist the prospect of collecting rent at a rate of 50 times - or more - the
going price of rent in other parts of the city. It's been whispered that Storyville
real estate was responsible for more than a few New Orleans fortunes.
|We can't visit the places where Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong,
Jelly Roll Morton or the other pioneers of jazz first played America's only
original form of music. Just a few structures from the Storyville era remain.
Most were demolished in the 1930's, to make way for the Iberville Housing
Project, which takes up almost the entire area that was Storyville. The photo
above shows more demolition on Basin Street and beyond in the 1950's.
|Above, a closer look at one of Tom Anderson's
establishments and, right, an ad for it.
|Above and right, famous Storyville
madam, Lulu White; below, left, interior
of Mahogany Hall in its heyday; below,
right, just before it was demolished.
|The pianist in this photo of Hilma Burt's Storyville bordello is said
to be none other than famous jazz great, Jelly Roll Morton. Hilma
Burt is seated at left, and her housekeeper, seated, at right.
|Right, the tomb of Storyville madam, Josie Arlington,
was designed by Ms. Arlington. The statue is of a
woman knocking at a door. Various theories have been
postulated about the significance of the design. Some
say it represents Josie knocking at her family's door
(mortified at her choice of professions, they'd disowned
her many years before). After the tomb was erected,
strange reports started surfacing. Passersby claimed
that the two torches at the top of the tomb glowed red;
some said the statue moved. It became quite an
attraction and, embarrassed by the notoriety it was
causing, her family had Josie's remains moved and
interred in a more private resting place. However, the
reports of activity at the tomb continued for many
years. It was determined that the folks who said they
saw the torches glowing red were correct -- they were
reflecting the gleam of a light situated on the banks of a
|A postcard view of The District.
|In the Storyville era, this was Joe Victor's Saloon, St. Louis Street; photo on left, 1970's; photo
on right is recent and is courtesy of Anthony Lee Posey and Flickr Commons.
|Left, former home of Frank Early's Saloon (on the corner) on Bienville Street
and the building behind it, which was partitioned into ten cribs in the
Storyville era. Until it was flooded in 2005, Early's saloon had been a grocery
store for many years. Right, it can be seen after the levee failures.
|Black social clubs played a vital role in the development of
jazz. Above & below, the Economy and Mutual Aid Association
(known as Economy Hall), exterior and interior.
|Next: The Disappearance of Storyville:
Photos of Basin and Rampart Streets in the 1940's - 1950's
The link to this page is:
Back to New Orleans & the Birth of Jazz
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Whispers - Home
|"Banksy" - the famous urban artist, made a trip to
New Orleans after the flood and left many interesting
and poignant illustrations behind. Here, on a flooded
out, boarded up house in Treme, the lone figure of a
small child blowing a horn appears.