A Pre-Preservation, Anti–French Quarter Monument
Posted on May 15, 2012
This ca. 1908 postcard is just one of some 30,000 vintage postcards from the Curt Teich Postcard Archives at Lake County Discovery Museum in Lake County, Illinois, that are available for online viewing. It is a rich resource for documenting the places tourists visited a century ago. This card shows the view one would have beheld when standing at Royal and St. Louis Streets and looking southwest (upriver) toward the Monteleone Hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter. On the right side of Royal Street is the architecture for which the world knows New Orleans. The Court House shown at left was a new addition to the Vieux Carré. Built in the Beaux-Arts style that was popular for civic buildings around the turn of the century (thanks to the City Beautiful movement), the massive marble edifice was either a remedy for a decadent, rundown Quarter or an interloper amid picturesque, iron-galleried, early nineteenth-century townhouses. Indeed, the new building claimed an entire block of the old district. Although a determined civic effort a few years earlier had saved the old Cabildo, site of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase located a few blocks away, New Orleans leaders generally had little positive to say about the French Quarter as a whole until preservationists began to speak up for the district’s value after World War I. The Court House is sufficiently old that it seems at home in the French Quarter, but it is a forgotten monument in the struggle to preserve the tourist heart of the city.