Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

First Advisor

William Davidson

Second Advisor

Joyce Jackson


In the past fifteen years, urban scholars have increasingly studied "the end of public space." Central to their arguments are the thesis that these communal spaces, traditionally held by city governments and theoretically open for use by all citizens, are waning. Much of this space has become "privatized." Corporations and individuals often buy, renovate, and design such spaces either in conjunction with city programs or as part of their urban renewal, gentrification, and development plans. These plans often seek to exclude certain minority groups or target spaces in low-income communities. The process is largely driven by the present need for cities to market urban symbols and urban cultural landscapes to middle-class consumers in the present post-industrial economy. Sometimes, however, communities successfully resist efforts to privatize urban public places. The Treme neighborhood of downtown New Orleans, fought off attempts to privatize Louis Armstrong Park, a scenic but neglected urban park adjacent to the French Quarter. In addition to drawing on the neighborhood's misfortune in being the target 1960s slum clearance project that created Armstrong Park, the neighborhood was able to take advantage of the fact that many of the cultural symbols the City of New Orleans uses to identifies itself with have historic roots in that very community. The local residents' calls for public, culturally relevant uses for Armstrong Park, and the city's desire to develop the Park were seemingly met when Congress created the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park to protect and promulgate New Orleans Jazz and associated cultural traditions. As the National Park, which will locate its visitor facilities in Armstrong Park, takes shape, the question becomes will the processes of exclusion and gentrification drive away Treme residents and their cultural traditions.