31 January 2019

Pontchartrain Way

Port Orleans – French Quarter has a ton of clever names scattered about their walkways and well-manicured squares. From Rue D’Baga to Reveler’s Row, there is a great amount of history and a ton of clever wordplay on each corner of the resort. While many of the names are instantly recognizable for their jokey nature or a claim to fame in New Orleans, there is at least one that probably leaves more guests scratching their heads than nodding in understanding. Today we’re trundling down a road that crosses over the more recognizable Ragtime Alley, Carriage Path, and Jazz Alley and spending time digging into the wealth of history brought up by the name Pontchartrain Way.

Pontchartrain refers to Louis Phélypeaux, a French politician who was active in the 1600 and 1700 hundreds and was known under varying titles, including comte de Pontchartrain, the Count of Pontchartrain. He was the owner of chateau de Pontchartrain, which is how he came to the title of Count of Pontchartrain, Phélypeaux had a career that included roles as Navy Secretary, head of the Parlement of Brittany, and Chancellor of France. While we know the namesake now, how does it play into the New Orleans theme of Port Orleans – French Quarter.

Sure, there is Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, with its Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest continuous bridge over water since 1969, but that doesn’t totally get to the heart of the matter. There’s also New Orleans first railroad, the Pontchartrain Railroad, which rain between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain between 1831 and 1935. Heck, there’s even Fort Detroit that was originally named for Phélypeaux, but none of these tell the whole story.

Pontchartrain Park is a one square mile neighborhood in the Gentilly District Area of New Orleans. The neighborhood was created after World War II as one of the first middle class African-American neighborhoods during the time of Jim Crow. The New Orleans subdivision was hit hard by flooding from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. While relatively small, no more than 2,000 residents, Pontchartrain Park has also been called home by a number of New Orleans residents. Included among these residents are New Orleans’ first African-American mayor, Dutch Morial, actor Wendell Pierce, and legendary Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe winning musician Terence Blanchard.

Sometimes a name is just a name in Walt Disney World, sometimes it has a tie to Disney history, and sometimes there is a real world story to tell. Beneath the magnolia branches that line the byways and around the meticulous squares, complete with fountains, that comprise Port Orleans – French Quarter there is at least one sign that calls to storied neighborhood of New Orleans. Just a little trivia to keep in your pocket the next time you find yourself sauntering down Pontchartrain Way.

1 comment:

Debbie V. said...

We stayed at POFQ in May 2018. One of the things that surprised me was the band - guitars, fiddle, not sure what else - that would be playing in the little bar/cafe - I think it was the Scat Cat's Club as we came in from the parks in the evening. It was sort of open to the main lobby. You would walk by on your way through and think you wished you weren't so tired you'd like to sit and listen. It's very intimate.
We stayed on Rue D'Blues.