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History of the Calliope Projects (Origins Explained)

The Calliope Projects also known as B.W. Cooper Public Housing Development, was a neighborhood in New Orleans, and one of the housing projects of the city.

The Calliope Projects aka CP3 gained nationwide notoriety for being extremely violent with a high crime rate. Most noted for being the home of New Orleans legend Master P. and his family, the Calliope was one of the most violent housing projects in United States history.

The official name of the Calliope Projects was the B.W. Cooper apartments. There were 1,546 units for residency on 56 acres of land in the central city of New Orleans. The project was constructed between 1939 and 1941. The original borders sat at South Dorgenois, Erato, Calliope (now Earhart Blvd.), and South Prieur.

The rent to stay in the Calliope ranged from $8.25 a month for a one-bedroom apartment to $22.00 a month for a three-bedroom unit. The area used to house one and two-story shotgun-style homes.

During the early days of the Calliope, the projects were considered a means for the working class to live comfortably, while saving up for their own home. St. Monica’s Catholic Church and School were a staple in the community as well as public institutions like Booker T. Washington High School. The neighborhood produced many successful musicians, educators (including a Superintendent of Orleans Parish Schools), politicians who served statewide, and successful entrepreneurs.

After seeing the success of the neighborhood the city invested in its development. In 1949 a gymnasium was added and in 1954 there was a 12 block expansion that added 860 new units. This more than doubled the size of the Calliope. In May 1981 the projects were renamed B.W. Cooper Apartments after a Housing Authority Employee who served for over 30 years.

The decline began in the early 1980s. Rival street cliques opened up shop around this time and plagued the future of the housing project. The local law enforcement described these dark days as “a seemingly nonstop cycle of retaliatory violence.” The NOPD reported that the violence escalated to an all-time high after Sam “Scully” Clay was hit in the Calliope in 1987. Glenn Metz and Meatball, two notorious bosses from the Calliope had New Orleans in a chokehold. They moved over 1000 kilograms of coke throughout New Orleans and were responsible for a lot of people passing away. From 93-04 88 people were killed in the Calliope. During 1994 the project with the bloodiest reputation in the United States was the Calliope. New Orleans received the nickname Murder Capital” as a result of the violence and drug trade coming from Uptown.

The Calliope was demolished after Katrina. In 2007 a small section was reopened but was quickly demolished in 2014. The Marrero Commons was erected in its place with 175 units and the Calliope became a memory.

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Written by Chris Michaels

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