There is no cutout of a smiling cop telling you to be careful and not violate any local laws. There is no warning telling you that of all the large cities and mid-sized towns in the country, this is the one in which you are most likely to be arrested.
In fact, it is.
Nationally, Gretna is known as the place where, as Katrina’s flood waters stubbornly refused to recede, police stood at the end of the bridge, guns drawn, to block the crowds who were trying to evacuate New Orleans. It is a reputation the suburban refuge has spent a decade trying to live down.
Gretna has an elegant if largely empty turn-of-the-century downtown and new riverfront condos with a view of New Orleans that start at around $349,000. What you would not know from just walking through its well-manicured downtown is that even in Louisiana, a state that leads the country in arresting and imprisoning people, Gretna stands out for the frequency with which it makes arrests.
Gretna is the second-largest city and parish seat of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States. Gretna is on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just east and across the river from uptown New Orleans. It is part of the New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 17,736 at the 2010 census.
Gretna was settled in 1836, originally as Mechanicsham, growing with a station on the Mississippi River for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, Texas and Pacific Railway, and Southern Pacific Railroad, with a ferry across the River to New Orleans. The famous spice-maker Zatarain’s was founded here in 1889. Gretna was incorporated in 1913, absorbing the section of McDonogh within the Jefferson Parish boundaries. In the 1940 census, Gretna had a population of 10,879.
There were 6,958 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.7% were married couples living together, 19.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.4% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the age distribution of the population shows 23.8% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years, higher than Louisiana’s median age of 34.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,065, and the median income for a family was $31,881. Males had a median income of $28,259 versus $21,019 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,735. About 20.8% of families and 24.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.7% of those under age 18 and 20.2% of those age 65 or over.