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The Garden District of New Orleans

The Garden District of New Orleans

Jim Fraiser
Photography by West Freeman
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Garden District of New Orleans
    Book Description:

    The Garden District of New Orleans has enthralled residents and visitors alike since it arose in the 1830's with its stately white-columned Greek Revival mansions and double-galleried Italianate houses decorated with lacy cast iron. Photographer West Freeman evokes the romance of this elegant neighborhood with lovely images of private homes, dazzling gardens, and public structures. Author Jim Fraiser vividly details the historical significance and architectural styles of more than a hundred structures and chronicles both the political and cultural evolution of the neighborhood.

    The Garden District, unlike the French Quarter, evolved under the auspices of predominantly Anglo-American architects hired by newly arriving, and newly wealthy, Americans. Beyond these wealthy homeowners, the Garden District also offers a startlingly diverse and freewheeling history teeming with African American slaves, free men and women of color, French, Italians, Germans, Jews, and Irish, all of whom helped fashion it into one of America's first suburbs and most extraordinary neighborhoods. Fraiser animates the Garden District's story with such notables as Mark Twain; Jefferson Davis; occupying Union general Benjamin Butler; flamboyant steamboat captain Thomas Leathers; crusading Reverend Theodore Clapp; Confederate generals Jubal Early and Leonidas Polk; jazzmen Joe "King" Oliver and Nate "Kid" Ory; champion pugilist John L. Sullivan; local authors Grace King, George Washington Cable, and Anne Rice; Mayor Joseph Shakespeare; architects Henry Howard, Lewis Reynolds, and Thomas Sully; cotton magnate Henry S. Buckner; and Louisiana Lottery co-founder John A. Morris.In words and photographs, Fraiser and Freeman explore the unexpected evolution of this district and reveal how war, plagues, politics, religion, cultural conflict, and architectural innovation shaped the incomparable Garden District.

    eISBN: 978-1-61703-278-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. PROLOGUE The Creole/American Gumbo Boils Over
    (pp. 3-16)

    To begin with, New Orleans, or La Nouvelle-Orléans as it was known during the French dominion of Louisiana (1718–1762), was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, and his crew of eighty convicted salt smugglers, in the spring of 1718. Wresting control of the mosquito- and alligator-infested land from the largely indifferent Choctaws who had inhabited it for thousands of years, the French laid out the town’s streets in a grid pattern of eleven squares by six squares fronting the Mississippi River.

    The frontier town would not give the appearance of a dignified city until the women arrived,...

    (pp. 17-62)

    American migration from the Vieux Carré began in what is now known as the Central Business District. This name seems most appropriate for highlighting what the capitalistic Americans were all about. The future CBD was birthed on April 1, 1778, when the Spanish surveyor general, Carlos Trudeau, subdivided the Ville Gravier plantation adjoining the Quarter into a proposed residential subdivision named after Gravier’s deceased wife, Marie. Faubourg St. Marie, the new American section, was bordered by what are now Iberville Street, Howard Avenue, Tchoupitoulas Street, and St. Charles Avenue. Canal Street eventually arose as the borderline between the Creole French...

  7. Chapter Two THE 1850s GARDEN DISTRICT
    (pp. 63-124)

    Crescent City residents could not have been pleased with the way the 1850s began. A cholera epidemic claimed lives from New Orleans to many midwestern states, and the city council assessed a special tax of four hundred thousand dollars to cover damage caused by Mississippi River flooding. But despite these difficulties, New Orleans made a meteoric rise to prominence as one of America’s greatest cities in that decade. Lafayette City also thrived, with a population of 14,190, of which about 13 percent were of African descent.

    On July 19, 1850, Pope Pius IX created the Archdiocese of New Orleans, to...

  8. Chapter Three THE 1860s GARDEN DISTRICT
    (pp. 125-162)

    In 1860, architect William A. Freret, the son of New Orleans mayor William Freret, erected five two–story double–galleried side hall town houses in a row, from 1703 to 1719 Second Street. Their wooden Doric box columns,in antis, on both levels, square–headed windows, and classical entranceways with rectangular transom and sidelights identify the style as Greek Revival, but Italianate elements include paired cornice brackets aligned with the posts and pedimented dormers with arched windows. In contrast to the Julia Street brick row houses in the Central Business District (formerly Faubourg St. Marie), these are wood frame houses...

    (pp. 163-216)

    Reconstruction Yankee interlopers (and some northern–born residents) viewed the postbellum Garden District as an extraordinarily homogeneous neighborhood, both socioeconomically and architecturally speaking, populated as it was with wealthy factors, merchants, and businessmen residing in Greek Revival and Italianate style houses. While this stereotype was certainly true to a significant extent, there was more diversity between Jackson and Louisiana avenues than many realized (or cared to admit). People with modest incomes also resided there, as the presence of shotgun houses, one–story cottages, and two–story residence/grocery stores attested. Author Frederick Starr observed that “members of the lower middle class...

    (pp. 217-246)

    Of the factors contributing to New Orleans’s decline as a major American city, none were more significant than political corruption, poor race relations, less than notable public schools, rampant crime, and financial woes culminating in the Panic of 1893. In short, the problems that plagued New Orleans at the dawn of the twentieth century were the same ones that would be the bane of the city’s existence a hundred years later.

    By 1890, New Orleans crime had rocketed out of control by any reasonable standard. The politicians charged with controlling lawlessness contributed significantly to the crime rate, albeit on the...

  11. GLOSSARY The Layperson’s Guide to Garden District Architectural Styles, Types, and Terms
    (pp. 247-252)
    (pp. 253-254)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 255-264)