Naval Support Activity (NSA New Orleans) is a massive complex of three, six-story buildings that tower over the East Bank of the Mississippi River. Constructed during World War I, the U.S. Army originally built the 1.5 million square foot logistics center for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot. The complex was completed in 1919.
The Bywater facility on Poland Avenue was home to nearly 3900 active-duty and 2,700 civilian personnel. The massive site spreads over both sides of the Mississippi River, making it the largest in New Orleans. The naval complex was in full operation until June 1933, when it was placed in a maintenance status by the U.S. Army.
The Louisiana Emergency Relief Administration, later the WPA, opened the naval complex as a transient camp a year after the complex was placed in maintenance status. They trained, sheltered, and worked almost 25,000 New Orleans residents that lost their homes during the Great Depression. The men were pulled off the streets and given a role in the Navy as soldiers.
During the 1930s, there were only three such centers in existence in the United States. The New Orleans transient camp closed in March 1936, after being open for two years. As World War II began, the lease was canceled and the naval complex reverted back to complete use by the military as the New Orleans Port of Embarkation.
Between 1944 and 1966, the naval complex progressed from a U.S. Naval Station to the U.S. Naval Headquarters. The Army transferred ownership to the Navy, and along with the neighboring Algiers base on the West Bank, the site became the Naval Support Activity (NSA New Orleans) in 1966.
The administrative base tenants included the national headquarters for the Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve. The site overlooks the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Industrial Canal.
In the early 1970s, the naval complex was renamed the F. Edward Hebert Defense Complex, after the New Orleans Congressman who served a stint as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
In May 2005, the Defense Department decided to close the Naval Support Activity during a Base Realignment and Closure Round, or BRAC. This resulted in the Navy moving its headquarters to Virginia and its personnel functions to Tennessee.
The Marine Corps Reserve headquarters was moved to the neighboring Algiers complex. After vacating the site in 2011, the Navy posted a small security detail staff with a caretaker who ensures the property is secured and maintained. The shuttered base appears to be empty and forgotten these days with knee high weeds and a graffiti covered exterior.
In 2016, the city of New Orleans selected a former New Orleans homeland security chief, Col. Terry Ebbert and businessman Bill Ryan, to redevelop the naval complex into a “resiliency center.” The center would manage regional disasters, a cruise ship terminal, lodging, and amenities such as grocery and retail stores. The proposal could have a $300 million impact on the region.
Other proposals for the naval complex have included creating a film and educational complex in a joint venture with the city of New Orleans. Although plans are in place, like many other sites, the naval complex remains abandoned.
I was stationed there from 2/84 to 2/87, lived down in the parish, hated driving through the 9th ward.
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DONT LET VANDALS DESTROY THE BUILDINGS
PLEASE MAINTAIN AND PUT GUARDS ON THEM.
Why? Nobody will ever want or use them again. Behold, your tax dollars at work. Look at the money they throw around for “defense” which is merely a fig leaf for genociding people Israel doesn’t like (plus enriching the industrial barons and their pet politicians). They build a monster facility for this NOBLE purpose and eventually just say “oh well, we’ll go somewhere else now, ta-da.”
Would like to become full time security there but am still trying to find out who to talk to. I also have at least 12 Volunteers ready to go to paint over graffiti and repair or board windows and doors for re securing the property as well as helping keep a close eye on the property for unwanted activities. I personally have a background in private security and also in construction so if anyone can get this place back right again its me…
I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays..
My family and I just visited Federal City in New Orleans this past week. Graffiti is sparse and everything looks cleaned up. Thank you for providing this information as we wanted to know more.
Wow. I live in the Boston area and these pictures looked really familiar. Check out this picture from the South Boston waterfront district which was formally an old Army Base:
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And this one….
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Wow, it looks just like the one in New Orleans. Too bad the city can’t get their act together and do something like this with the property.
Move City Hall to this site.
I served there from 1977 to 1980 as a Marine. I have many great memories of being stationed in New Orleans
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Thanks for sharing!
I worked there for the Public Works Department for several years. It was a nice place and to think the Navy gave it to the city. What a waste of good buildings! It was supposed to be a cruise ship terminal for cruise ships to dock from the Port all the way to the French Quarter. But the neighbors didn’t want that. So now look what they are getting, one big shelter for the homeless. Now all those homeless living in tents under the overpasses will have a roof over their tents now. They will need food, water and a place to pee. They should have used it as the ship’s terminal. Rich people in their neighborhood instead of homeless. Which one would you want? Now look at the city and how they take care of the streets with pot holes, THEY DON’T! The Navy should have sold those buildings to a company that would have turned them into condos or something nice where us citizens could be proud of.
I was a watch commander in Base Security on the East Bank and sometimes worked on the West Bank from June 1994 to March 1996. Met alot awesome DOD civilian police officers there and on the West Bank. Miss you guys. Bruce Lowery still working there or Dumas? Its a shame this place went to the city just to be sitting in ruins. To the military personnel and the civilians I served with you all are the bomb. I retired from the Navy in Feb 2000. I will never forget you guys, take care.
“You are the bomb” — interesting way of putting it. What actual net good do you feel the US military has done in the past 50 years?
You arent very educated for sure. Have you served? Maybe if you did you wouldnt ask such a dumb question. Get a life and get your head out of the liberal gutter. Next time use your real name so people can see who the idiot is, it certainly isnt me.