The changes that have happened along Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in the last few years demonstrate downtown revitalization at its best. Originally known as Dryades Street, renamed in the 1980s for a civil rights pioneer, Central City’s main street was once the hub of a bustling, ethnically diverse business district served by five streetcar lines.
The birthplace of jazz icons Buddy Bolden and Professor Longhair and home to the world famous Dew Drop Inn, the neighborhood was also at the heart of the city’s Civil Rights movement. In the 1970s, like so many inner city neighborhoods, the Oretha Castle Haley corridor suffered from disinvestment, concentration of poverty and a lack of economic opportunity. Thanks to a grassroots commitment to reinvestment from private, public and community stakeholders led by investor-anchors Cafe Reconcile and the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, OCH in Central City is now a dining, shopping and cultural destination once again. The boulevard is home to a slew of new ventures including Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, numerous restaurants and the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center.