Who even calls the stretch of greenspace overlooking the Mississippi River “Audubon Riverview Park”? But that is its official name. The current pavilion in the park everyone refers to as “The Fly” has a history dating back more than 25 years.
That structure, officially named “A Stage for Viewing,” was damaged in October’s Hurricane Zeta in October, and the process of replacing its shredded roof is still in play.
It’s this structure’s predecessor that gave the stretch of land by the river its name. Few today can remember the original building that people thought resembled a butterfly. So the park gained the nickname “The Butterfly,” which was then shortened to “The Fly.” The building, which housed concessions and restrooms, was actually supposed to resemble gull wings.
A critically endangered western lowland gorilla was born in the morning hours of Sept. 4 at the Audubon Zoo. This is the first gorilla birth at at the zoo in 24 years and the first offspring for 13-year-old Tumani. Mother and baby are doing well, zoo officials report. Animal care staff are closely monitoring the infant’s health to ensure that mother and baby are receiving the care needed.
The Audubon Zoo reopened to the public on Wednesday, June 3. Zoo visits, however, are now a little different than in the past. All visitors will follow a one-way trail through almost all of the zoo to see many of their favorite animals and wildlife habitats. The interactive and indoor exhibits remain closed. Due to state and city reopening guidelines, all zoo admissions, including member admission, must be reserved online in advance for a specific date and entry time.
New Orleans is embarking on the first week of Phase 1 in reopening the city as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed nearly 500 lives in the city and more than 2,000 deaths statewide. If you use public transit, the city’s recreational facilities or the public library, here’s what you can expect from those agencies during this initial phase. Regional Transit Authority
Beginning Sunday (May 17), the RTA returned to Saturday service on all bus and streetcar routes. The RTA also will go back to collecting fares as part of the Phase 1 reopening of the city. For more information regarding fares, visit www.RTAforward.org/fares-passes.
Per state and city public health directives, Audubon has received approval to move forward with reopening its family of parks and museums following a phased approach that strictly limits attendance and programming. Audubon Riverview Park, or The Fly, will reopen on Saturday (May 16) to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Vehicular traffic will not be allowed. Audubon Tennis will reopen Wednesday (May 20) with a limited schedule and appropriate social distancing measures. Audubon Golf Course will remain closed at this time, and more information on plans for its reopening will be announced soon.
South Claiborne Avenue is getting an upgrade, with both drainage and beautification in mind, near the Carrollton, Leonidas and Fontainebleau neighborhoods. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun planting trees on the neutral ground for the restoration project replacing the green infrastructure removed for the construction of underground drainage improvements. The restoration is part of the corps’ Southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project, a $2 billion set of infrastructure improvements meant to reduce the risk of flooding in the event of heavy rain.
The project will stretch from Leonidas to Pine streets and include 98 new trees. Six varieties of deciduous and evergreen trees have been chosen: nuttall oak, bald cypress, southern magnolia, spruce pine, sweet bay magnolia and “Muskogee” crape myrtle.
With the Audubon Zoo closed to the public, few have been able to meet the newest addition to the zoo’s swelling pride: two male lion cubs. Born in January to mom Kali and dad Arnold, the two cubs are still unnamed. But the zoo keepers are planning to change that, and they are asking for your help. Animal care staff at Audubon Zoo have narrowed their selection of names down to their top three: Haji, Radi and Asani. All the names are Swahili words chosen for their sound and meaning.
In 2016, it seemed like Pokémon Go was everywhere. And as quickly as the game jumped into the public’s imagination, it seemed to disappear. However, the game didn’t suddenly vanish, and it didn’t necessarily go underground, more like under-the-radar, much like the game’s mysterious Pokémon, Unown. One place to find the action in New Orleans was at a PVP (Player vs. Player) tournament at the home of a dedicated player, who asked not to be identified.
It’s become one of the postcard images of Carnival in New Orleans — beads and other debris lining trees along the Uptown parade route, some to the point of being hardly recognizable. But parade-goers this season on the Napoleon Avenue portion of the route won’t take in any sights that like there — at least if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has its way. That’s because over the past week, the corps has installed more than 100 nets to block beads from latching onto trees on the Napoleon Avenue neutral ground — trees that have just been planted in the past month and are still getting used to their environment, according to corps spokesman Ricky Boyett. “The timing and impacts of Mardi Gras season have been a known factor in this project since its early planning. Netting has been placed to shield the trees from beads becoming wrapped around young branches,” Boyett said, adding that temporary fencing has also been put up around trees to keep pedestrians from walking on the developing root systems.
But what would likely be the most damaging for the trees actually wouldn’t be the beads themselves, according to Boyett, but their removal, which he said could damage new growth.
The Napoleon Avenue neutral ground between Claiborne Avenue and Magnolia Street is in the process of getting a face lift, one designed with both beauty and floodwaters in mind. The new trees and walkway may look like simple landscaping to a passerby, but is actually what the Army Corp of Engineers calls “green space restoration,” a technique that has been shown to reduce flooding. The restoration is part of the Army Corp of Engineer’s Southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project, a $2 billion set of infrastructure improvements meant to reduce the risk of flooding in the event of heavy rain. This is the same project that oversaw the installation of a canal under Napoleon Avenue, the construction that disrupted Carnival celebrations for many in New Orleans. A portion of this neutral ground lies on the parade route and is prime space to set up camp for parade viewing.
Tourists flocking to what’s become one of the Garden District’s most popular destinations are met with is just a padlock and a sign: “Lafayette Cemetery #1 will be temporarily closed for repairs.”
It’s been over two months since the city of New Orleans, which owns the cemetery, shut down the area for public access, as it performs the most extensive restoration effort in recent history on the site, which has graves dating back to the 1830s. The city says that work there is long overdue, with natural weathering and a massive spike in tourist interest taking a toll on the historic tombs. That work so far has been scarce, though, according to Martin Leblanc, who says the tour groups he leads there will regularly consider the site among the top three or four to visit in the city. “I think they’re going to finish this cemetery after they finish the streets in New Orleans,” he said. “We haven’t seen any work.”
Martha Griset, who’s overseeing the work with city Property Management, said the city has spent time evaluating how to move forward on the restoration, and has already done some work clearing plant debris.