Friday, May 2, 2014

Jackson Square, New Orleans, 1815

Blogger's Note:  Designed as the central landmark from which all New Orleans city streets radiate, Jackson Square is a cultural hub for the city as well.  Renamed to honor the celebrated general of the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson Square is a worthy destination for both visitors and locals alike.


(Above): The statue of General Andrew Jackson was placed in 1856 to honor his heroism during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

From the Project For Public Spaces website:

(Above): Taking advantage of many months of beautiful weather, local artists set up to sell their wares along the fence of the Square.

"This lively and heavily trafficked park in the French Quarter is a popular site for artists, street performers and musicians who entertain tourists and locals. This remarkable square at the center of New Orleans' French Quarter is beautifully laid out, with historic buildings on three sides facing out on a lush park full of trees, flowers and pathways. Outside the park, set apart by an elegant fence, a bustling pedestrian thoroughfare swings with the activity of musicians, artists, vendors, and street performers.

(Above):  When viewed from this vantage point, the plan of the city built around Jackson Square becomes visible.  (L to R) Seen here behind the Square are the Cabildo, the St. Louis Cathedral, and the Presbytere. 

Jackson Square began as the Place d'Armes and was originally laid out by Audrien de Pauger in 1721 as a military parade grounds and site for public hangings. It's situated at the central point of the Vieux Carre (Old Quarter) of New Orleans, and was flanked by a number of important community landmarks, including the St. Louis Cathedral (circa 1794); and the Cabildo (circa 1799), named for the Spanish council (cabildo) that met there; and Presbytere (circa 1797).

(Above):  The Pontalba Apartments, These are matching red-brick one-block-long four‑story buildings built in the 1840s by the Baroness Micaela Almonester Pontalba.  The upper floors are apartments that are supposedly, the oldest continuously rented such apartments in the United States.

The Baroness Micaela Pontalba is credited with the transformation of the park from military grounds to one of the country's most lovely public spaces. With the completion of her Pontalba Apartments in 1852 along one side of the square - a famed landmark in the district, with iron balconies and other flourishes - she also commissioned fences, gardens and landscaped the grounds in a sun pattern. The square became a meeting ground for up-and coming Creoles and the ground floor apartments were filled with shops and offices.

(Above): A view of Jackson Square from atop the levee along the Mississippi River.

The square was renamed Jackson Square in 1856 to honor Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 and later U.S. President. Its centerpiece sculpture is an equestrian statue of Jackson sculpted by Clark Mills."

(Above): The cathedral side of Jackson Square, 1842. Photo credit: Lithograph based on daguerreotype, by Jules Lion.

Fun Fact: Early French colonial New Orleans was originally centered around what was then called the Place d' Armes. After the Battle of New Orleans, in 1815, the Place d' Armes was renamed Jackson Square after the victorious United States general Andrew Jackson.  The square originally overlooked the Mississippi River across Decatur Street, but the view was blocked in the 19th century by the building of taller levees.