Henry Clay was a statesman, leader of the Whig Party, and five times an unsuccessful U.S. presidential candidate. Although he represented Kentucky in both the U.S. senate and house, he played a central role in national politics until his death in 1852. He made numerous trips to New Orleans and to honor him, a statue was commissioned (at a cost of $50,000) to be placed in a public space to be called “Clay Square.” However, the statue never made it there. It was first erected on Canal Street in 1860, then in 1900, it moved to its present location in Lafayette Square.
Named for the old City of Lafayette (that annexed to New Orleans in 1852), Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 can be found in the Garden District neighborhood. The cemetery has been active since 1833 with burials still occurring. It’s roughly the size of a city block with more than 7,000 people buried there. Supposedly there’s a tomb in the cemetery that inspired author Anne Rice when writing the novel Interview with a Vampire. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 was named to the National Register of Historic places in 1972.
Originally designed by William Freret in the Greek Revival style (left side) in 1859, this New Orleans Garden District mansion at 2504 Prytania Street is an odd combination with the addition of a Queen Anne Victorian turret (on right side) by the next owners in the 1880s. It became the home of the New Orleans Opera Women’s Guild in 1965, whose mission is to ensure opera remains a part of the musical legacy of New Orleans.
John McDonogh amassed a personal fortune through his vast land holdings while living in south Louisiana. After his death in 1850, his estate helped New Orleans to build public schools for children of poor whites and freed people of color. Over 30 schools were built, most with his name and a number on them. In the past few decades, many of the schools have been renamed to distance themselves from the fact McDonogh was a slave owner. McDonogh asked “that it be permitted annually for children to plant and water a few flowers around his grave.” This looks to be captured in the statue behind the Puch Maxi—since his remains are buried on the campus of McDonogh School in Maryland.
Tchoupitoulas Street (CHOP-i-TOO-ləs) gets its name from an Indian tribe that possibly means “those who live at the river.” Tchoupitoulas is one of many street names that confuses visitors to the city. It begins in downtown New Orleans at Canal Street (opposite the French Quarter) and follows the curve of the Mississippi River until it ends at Audubon Park. The popular and well-known uptown, music venue Tipitina’s is also located on Tchoupitoulas. Makes pronouncing Puch (po͝ok) easy, doesn’t it?
In 1981, French engineers noted the Eiffel Tower, originally built for the 1889 World’s Fair, was sagging. Seems the Restaurant de La Tour Eiffel placed there in 1937 (562 feet above Paris) was weighing down the structure. So the restaurant was taken apart, piece by piece, and stored—then replaced with a smaller, lighter restaurant. Several years later, a New Orleans businessman with a French chef purchased the 11,062 pieces for $1.5 million and rebuilt the restaurant at 2040 St. Charles Avenue. Although the Tour d’Eiffel Restaurant eventually closed and the building has gone through subsequent restaurants and nightclubs, it is still architecturally remarkable. Have you ridden your Puch to the Eiffel Tower?
Lafayette Square, located in the Central Business District, is the second-oldest public park in New Orleans. It was named for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, after his visit to the city in 1825. He was a French aristocrat and general who fought on the American side in the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette Square encompasses 2.5 acres and has been the site for inaugurations, concerts, and Mardi Gras parade-watching. What’s your favorite Lafayette Square event?