Where is Gert Town and why is it named that?
Gert Town was named after Alfred Gehrke, who in 1893 bought a general store at the corner of South Carrollton Avenue and Colapissa Street. His store became a popular neighborhood hangout, and he later purchased much of the property adjacent to the business. Eventually, the area became synonymous with Gehrke and over the years, the pronunciation gradually morphed into "Gert."
The area originally was part of Jeanne de McCarty's plantation, part of which was sold in 1833 to the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company for an extension of the New Basin Canal. Officially, Gert Town encompasses a small part of the Hollygrove neighborhood. The current location of Xavier University, built in 1933, is within these boundaries. The boundaries zigzag a little but roughly go from Pontchartrain Expressway to Earhart/Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards and from South Broad to Joliet Street.
Statistics from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center show that the population of Gert Town decreased by about 1,100 people between 2000 and 2010. The neighborhood has suffered crime, poverty — and health problems caused by the now-defunct pesticide producer Thompson-Hayward Chemical Co., which in 1996 was ordered to pay a settlement to help Gert Town recover.
The city has made some efforts to rebuild Gert Town, including opening the Norwood Thompson Playground and announcing plans last year to build a new pool and relocate the 2nd District police station to the neighborhood.