- Posted September 6, 2012 by
New Orleans, Louisiana
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Rebar Roots: Ponchartrain Beach in a Post-Katrina World
1. Rebar Roots - shoreline riprap is all that's left of the Ponchartrain Beach Amusement Park
2. Tidal Burn - jetty support, prevent erosion
3. Game, Set, Match - abandoned tennis courts outside levee protection system
4. Anything for a Good Spot - lone fisherman (top, center) braves crumbling concrete, one-board bridge to find the perfect fishing locale on an abandoned pier.
5. Clear Water - Gone are the neon lights, music, and machinery. Just a quiet beach now.
At the foot of Elysian Fields Avenue and Lake Ponchartrain in New Orleans sits history, as well as the steel and glass UNO Technology Park. It was while working there in 2003 that I took a walk along the backside of the campus: a small beach with two jetties, a smattering of overgrown and rotting structures, snakes, and countless childhood ghosts -- all that was left of Ponchartrain Beach Amusement Park.
Seems so long ago….
… Moms took the little ones to Kiddy Land to ride the putt-putt boats and mini-carousel. Pimply pre-teen packs ruled the Trabante, the Music Express, and the Space Wheel rides to establish their pecking orders. You were the shizz once you were tall enough to ride the Wild Maus. But only a few could claim they rode the Zephyr roller coaster without holding on… You could smell popcorn, cotton candy, and Clearasill.
…. But all I could find during that 2003 walk was a cracked ramp for the "Sky Ride", a filled-in and overgrown pale blue concrete round pool used for the "Kiddy Land" boats, and weed-covered tennis courts. Everything else had been razed and built over. The new office structures now dominated the Zephyr's former footprint.
Then Hurricane Katrina. Even though I returned to work at the UNO park, I never again walked that beach.
Until a recent weekend. I searched for the edifices I'd found in 2003, but all were gone.
What the water didn't take, the Corps of Engineers did. Levee reinforcements had been built, covering much of the old ride site.
But the beach is still there. Quiet. Peaceful. A few locals let their dogs run free and fetch in the shallows. A lone fisherman precariously perched at the end of a pier. The old tennis courts are still there -- overgrown, graffiti-decor, rusted net cranks.
And the water is clear.
In Greek mythology the Elysian Fields is defined as the final resting place and afterlife of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous. Shady parks with residents indulging their athletic and musical pastimes.
Makes sense. Because in New Orleans at the foot of Elysian Fields now lies a peaceful shoreline with memories of a loud, joyful, playful, soulful, raunchy,
strong, and forever young people.