This weekend, organizers gathered to give a waterfront tour of an abandoned cargo ship that houses something incredibly special: 33 people who remain on board as they live the last remnants of the New Orleans urban waterfront.
Hoping to help end the decades-long economic downward spiral of New Orleans, Canal Street Wetlands Ltd. organized the New Orleans Urban Steamboat Co. that’s providing food, housing, and access to a shoreline partially restored after a 1920s design by engineer Joe Smith.
The group visited from all over the world and shepherded tourists around the 80-foot Schooner Crescent City and other restored, coastal cargo ships. Although all the buildings are now empty, it’s a breathtaking sight to see Mississippi River sediments washing up on the shore of a defunct city.
There’s also food, music, and the revived bayou — though nothing to compare to the Louisiana barbecue you might taste at the guys’ corner spot or the pound they choose at the local diner. The only thing that’s lost is the view from any part of the vessel — unless you’re sitting above the famed Mississippi lighthouse, of course.
To recreate it in a building near Boston, Canal Street Wetlands is trying to sell two cargo ships, one built in 1840 and the other in 1900, to developers. Instead of a society of savvy cooks butlers, the Louisiana hot sauces must be garnished by cold beer and Snapple. Thankfully the crew have convinced local eco-friendly organization FuturEast to partner with them on the ship to preserve the shoreline and start a sustainable business to create and use products locally. So they’re busily cleaning it up while the company sold for redevelopment.
The realistic possibility of Boston building an amazing modernist shrimp shack next to a beautiful new harbor seems just a little bit more believable than what Canal Street Wetlands is currently doing. But we’re not complaining.