Metairie (Images of America)

Veteran's Highway & The Causeway

Camp Parapet was constructed during the Civil War, in 1861, and stretched from the river to what is now Veterans Boulevard. It was captured by Union forces and used as a defense and training camp for African American troops. In 1914 “The Pit”, a large area dug to obtain sand to make bricks used to build the camp was filled to create Harlem Avenue (now Causeway Boulevard.)

Some hundred years later, in 1957, the population of Metairie could be gauged by the two new 1,000,000 gallon water towers that had been erected -- one on Athania Parkway near Causeway and the other on Veterans Highway at David Drive. A checked design was applied to the David Drive tower so that pilots landing at the modern new Moisant International Airport (now Louis Armstrong International Airport) could easily avoid it.

Metairie’s growth has been discussed in earlier chapters. The Veterans Highway and Causeway areas were simply extensions of that expansion. But in 1972 a unique “city within a city” cropped up. Local developers Ray Anselma, Joseph Peters, Joseph Marcello and attorney David Levy laid out a plan to convert a parcel of land between Veterans Highway, Causeway Boulevard, West Esplanade, and Division Streets into an entertainment and apartment complex district. Local lore traces its name back to a snow ball stand on 17th Street near Severn which was operated by two teenage boys – it was called “Fat City”. Others have said that it was named for Fat City, the 1969 novel by Leonard Gardner (which was later made into a movie). Popular spots in Fat City included Melvin Facheaux’s Dillinger’s Night Club at 3612 Hessmer Street which offered “Live Floor Shows -- 11 P.M. and 1 A.M.”, Glen’s Restaurant (3213 Arnoult Road), and more places than can fit in this brief introduction.

Veterans was, and still is, the “new” highway in Metairie. There is no land remaining on which to plan another major road. Like Airline, Veterans Highway underwent a name change -- to Veterans Boulevard. A few blocks from the lake, Causeway Boulevard intersects with the highway and leads to the world’s longest bridge – the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.

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