Call For Participation: Dwyer Canal

Mr. Fred Conley points out the Dwyer Canal behind his home.

CALLING ALL PONTILLY RESIDENTS! We're collaborating with Hilairie Schackai of Longue Vue House and Gardens to launch an ongoing recording and listening project in the neighborhoods around the Dwyer Canal. With this project we're asking residents of Pontilly to reflect on the canal, its past and future, and deeper meanings of neighborhood and landscape.

Pontilly – the collective name for the neighborhoods of Pontchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods – is located in the northeastern corner of New Orleans, south of Lake Pontchartrain and west of the Industrial Canal. Pontchartrain Park (to the north) and Gentilly Woods (to the south) were developed as postwar professional and middle-class suburban enclaves during the Jim Crow years of "separate but equal." The homes were built by the same builder using similar house models on similar lot sizes, which lends a sense of continuity to the two neighborhoods. Despite these commonalities, the neighborhoods were originally built as two distinct areas divided by race and a physical boundary – the Dwyer Canal.

The canal and its occasional flooding has long been a source of anxiety for residents. The ground on one side of the canal is lower than on the other, making the historically African-American Pontchartrain Park side more prone to inundation.

New flood mitigation efforts are now being carried out by residents around the canal. It is our hope that this project will serve as an extension of this mitigation work by creating a space for reflection by residents on the history and future of this important, and often problematic, part of the landscape.

All residents of Pontchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods are invited to share their thoughts and experiences by way of audio recordings. Open Sound New Orleans will lend residents recording equipment and train them in its use - or we will come to you and conduct an interview at your request. To participate, please contact Hilairie Schackai, the community liaison for this project, at

HUGE thanks to Hilairie for sharing her hard work with us here at OSNO, and to all the Pontchartrain Park and Gentilly Woods residents willing to share your experiences with the community at large. Hilairie will occasionally blog about the project here:

Pontilly resident Paul Lentz