I lived for a time in Gentilly, right off Chef Menteur highway, so producing the map of the area was like a trip back home. Of course, New Orleans East today is slightly different than the New Orleans East of 65 years ago. Hurricane Katrina really did a number on it. But the area is now home to numerous parks, lots of charter schools, and interesting businesses, not to mention the shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain.
Lakefront Airport is a treasure in itself.
Dedicated on Feb. 9, 1934, Lakefront Airport was originally called Shushan Airport. The Art Deco terminal was New Orleans only commercial air hub until 1946 when Moisant Field opened. The terminal was restored to its original grandeur after flood waters from Hurricane Katrina damaged the structure. Classic wall murals were saved.
For many years, the marshy areas of eastern New Orleans went undeveloped, except for the higher ground along the Chef Menteur ridge and also along the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline.
Early settlement took place along Bayou Saurage, which provided the only access to Fort McComb. The industrial canal, completed in 1923, hindered eastward progress for years due to limited bridge crossings, though Lakefront Airport, built around 1930, brought considerable aviation activity to the Seabrook area.
Major early efforts to develop the area failed, but around 1960, the LaKratt Corp. brought rapid development to the heart of the area, known as "Lake Forest," having purchased 5000 acres from the widow of Joe. W. Brown, who had donated 60 acres to the city for a park.
When new drainage and swamp reclamation became feasible, they finally opened the area for widespread use. The new Interstate 10 High Rise and other road and bridge improvements helped provide access as well.