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The other side of New Orleans

Updated 1:53 PM ET, Thu July 18, 2013
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This lively Mardi Gras scene depicts what many think of when they hear "New Orleans." Chaos and alcohol define the mood, with police standing by. David S. Holloway/CNN
But for many, such as rapper Justin Elliott (aka Hot Bizzle), New Orleans is not a place to enjoy, but one to escape. Elliott's cousin, Joseph "Joker" Elliott, was killed in January during a dispute with a neighbor. He was 17. David S. Holloway/CNN
The colorful city, often known for its jazz and gumbo, has had a murder rate at least seven times the national average for the past 30 years. David S. Holloway/CNN
There are some, still, working hard to make changes. Daryl Durham is the program director for Anna's Arts for Kids at St. Anna's Episcopal Church. This program in the Treme neighborhood provides children with an alternative to spending Saturdays on the streets. David S. Holloway/CNN
In January, 26 residents were slain in the Crescent City. Many of the poorest residents are buried in Holt Cemetery, where many signs are handwritten and graves may be dug by hand. David S. Holloway/CNN
There's a new neighborhood arising from the ashes in the form of the B.W. Cooper Apartments project. The area gained attention for a high crime rate, and the new apartments sit within minutes of crime scenes. David S. Holloway/CNN
A few miles away, in the Zion City neighborhood, Shirley Elliott sits with her granddaughter Brianne Beasley. Her son was recently arrested in connection with a gang rape reported in the neighborhood. David S. Holloway/CNN
The historic city is typically recognized for the Saints football team and annual Mardi Gras parades. Since the year after Hurricane Katrina swept through, New Orleans has also become the murder capital of the United States. David S. Holloway/CNN
But people like Lisa Fitzpatrick, the founder of APEX (Always Pursuing Excellence) Youth Center, don't lose hope. "People ask, 'How do you get kids down to the center?' " she said. "It's not rocket science. Unlock your damned doors -- and a plate of cookies doesn't hurt." David S. Holloway/CNN
Others memorialize the victims of this city's violence. St. Anna's Episcopal Church has a permanent "murder board" with the names and ages of those killed from 2007 and 2008. A temporary board is updated weekly as well. David S. Holloway/CNN
Reminders of death can be found across the area as people honor their loved ones. Fredric Sweetwyne celebrates the life of Jeremy Galmon with a commemorative cross in the Central City neighborhood. David S. Holloway/CNN
For Acquanette Bornes, a resident in the same neighborhood, death is more than grieving for a person. Her neighbor's house is collapsing onto hers, but she is unable to get it fixed because the neighbor has died. David S. Holloway/CNN
Though New Orleans has many troubling statistics -- including high poverty rates, especially among children -- the mayor 10 months ago called murder "the single most important issue facing our city." David S. Holloway/CNN
Trina Bordley wears a shirt memorializing Joseph "Joker" Elliott, the 17-year-old killed during an argument at his home. She pinches Timeshika Beasley's cheek as they sit outside in the Zion City neighborhood. David S. Holloway/CNN
Some residents blame the high crime rates on a lack of activities to keep youths off the streets. Places like this multipurpose center in Mid-City never reopened after the floods of Katrina. David S. Holloway/CNN
The death and destruction from Katrina left many young people desensitized to violence and death, some locals say. "You learn how to resolve conflict in a way that doesn't involve picking up a gun," Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said. "It's all a learning process." David S. Holloway/CNN