Broadmoor is an architecturally, economically and racially diverse neighborhood
in the heart of New Orleans largely defined by the impressive 20th-century
historic homes that line Napoleon Avenue and Fontainebleau Drive. But there is
a variety of architecture throughout the neighborhood, from wooden shotguns
and Arts and Crafts-style bungalows to grand Mediterranean Revival and
Spanish Colonial-style estates — even the Rosa Keller Library branch, with a
historic brick façade and Spanish tile roof, has an ultra-modern addition,
showcasing the different styles one can see amongst Broadmoor’s nearly 800
historic structures. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Development in the area began in the 1880s, when the land was still marshy pasture. After big rains it literally became a huge lake — a favorite fishing spot for Uptowners. Drainage canal projects began in 1885, including the construction of Pumping Station #1 at S. Broad and Washington Avenue (the station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places). The neighborhood’s building boom really took place in the 1920s, and by 1930 Broadmoor had its own newspaper, The Broadmoor News. The Broadmoor Civic Improvement Association also formed around that time, one of the first neighborhood associations in the city. The opening of the Chevra Thilim Synagogue on S. Claiborne and Jena streets in 1948 attracted a large Jewish population to the area. It has since closed, but Broadmoor as a whole still has a healthy mix of residents from all walks of life with diverse religious backgrounds.
The neighborhood is especially attractive to families, as many homes have yards and off-street parking. Children or not, all of Broadmoor’s residents are passionate, however. From its beginning in the 1930s, the Broadmoor Improvement Association (as it’s now called) has always had a reputation as being one of the most unified neighborhood associations in the city. This area was devastated by the levee failure that followed Hurricane Katrina and many officials were in favor of abandoning it altogether to focus rebuilding efforts in other neighborhoods instead. Broadmoor residents rose up, however, and organized to convince city officials that the impact of disinvesting such a vital New Orleans neighborhood would be disastrous. It worked, and today the neighborhood is once again thriving, with an active community center, new restaurants, a well-traversed fitness and arts trail along Napoleon Avenue.
Many thanks to the Preservation Resource Center for providing this wonderful information! (www.prcno.org)