Today in New Orleans History

March 9

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Elk Place: Gardens of the Americas
March 9, 1960
Jazz or Simon Bolivar?
Basin Street Blues or Milenburg Joys?
TodayInNewOrleansHistory/SRRTerminal1910s.gifMayor deLesseps S. Morrison's vision for New Orleans was one of a modernistic 'progressive' hub of business activity.  He saw other cities grow by leaps and bounds after tearing down the old and bringing in the new and he envisioned the same for our town.  Morrison's administration changed the footprint of New Orleans irrevocably. One example was the demolition of the Southern Railroad Terminal, also known as the Terminal Station, which was constructed at 1125 Canal at Basin Street in 1908. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham, the architect for Washington D.C.'s Union Station.
The station served the Southern Railway's subsidiaries, the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad Company and the New Orleans Terminal Company. In the 1940's, the station's signature train was "The Southerner," which departed New Orleans daily for the east coast.  But in the 1950s, Morrison had plans for a modern new train station, the Union Passenger Terminal on Loyola Avenue, so the railroad abandoned the old Terminal Station. The circa 1920s photo on the right shows the old station, with Krauss Department Store to the left.  Krauss' is now a  condominium development.
In 1954, the railroad tracks and the terminal were removed.  The caption for the July 20, 1954 photo below reads: Basin St., status of work, old Southern Railway Terminal, toward Municipal Auditorium.  Widening of Basin Street from Iberville to Orleans is underway in connection with the city's program of providing an expressway from the Union Passenger Terminal to the Municipal Auditorium. The street will be widened 11 feet on each side to provide double 44-foot roadways. The city is preparing to buy the old Southern railway station so that the block from Canal to Iberville can be similarly widened."  [Photograph by "Cole" Coleman, for Public Relations Office, City Hall].  In November 1954, a $1.1 million bond issue allowed for the purchase of the station and the land.
Morrison also sought to expand business relations between New Orleans and Latin American countries.  As component of his city-wide "beautification project" he wanted the city to buy the old station and replace it with a park-like setting on the neutral ground at Basin and Canal which would include a 12 foot statue of Latin American hero Simon Bolivar.
While no documentation exists that New Orleans had strong ties to Bolivar or that he ever visited our city, Morrison was steadfast in his conviction that Bolivar should be honored in the "Garden of the Americas"  -- a location that some have called "The Gateway to Storyville".  On Wednesday, May 18, 1955 at 7:15 p.m., with much ceremony, Morrison flipped the switch of modernistic mercury vapor lights which shined down on the newly completed Basin Street beautification and widening  project.  The New Orleans Police Department band played Basin Street Blues.  City Councilman James E. Fitsmorris was the master of ceremony.  City Council president Glen P. Clasen, who was also the supervisor and treasurer of Krauss Company was there representing both the city and the retail merchants bureau of the Chamber of Commerce. Reverend Joseph F. Laux led the invocation and Reverend George H. Wilson did the benediction. New Orleans Jazz Club president George Blanchin spoke.  The statue wasn't there.
Morrison spoke of  the "ending of one era in our city's history and we think, the beginning of a new one".  Fitzmorris noted that the $1.1 million project was "another milestone in the growth of our city" adding that Basin Street is "perhaps themost famous street in the world" because it was  "the birthplace of jazz". Blanchin contradicted the "birthplace of jazza' statement but noted that LuLu White's famous house of prostitution had been demolished in 1949 and replaced with Krauss Department Store's parking garage.  He said "I hope very soon that our city fathers will see fit to erect a suitable monument or marker in Basin Street in honor of the jazz musicians who did so much for New Orleans".
On June 20, 1955, Blanchin announced a nation-wide competition for the design of monument to jazz which would be placed on Basin at Canal Street.  He said, "Surely jazz is more important in the history of New Orleans than a Latin American who never had anything to do with the city".  Morrision had said "A suitable headstone or monument" to jazz would be placed on Basin Street but Blanchin feared that it would be dwarfed they the Bolivar statue and by others proposed for what was now being called the "Parkway of the Americas" (in 1965 a statue of Benito Juarez of Mexico was added, as was one of .  In 1966 Francisco Morazan of Honduras in 1966).

Much discussion ensued. On July 12, 1955, Morrison said "We assured the Jazz Foundation [New Orleans Jazz Club] a few months ago [at the lighting ceremony] there would be a monument to jazz on the street and it is a definite plan of the city". 

L.A. Riley wrote, and his letter was published in the paper on July 17, 1955. He recounted personal memories of Milneburg's long pier stretching from the original shore to the lighthouse with its walkways to many camps and clubhouses where jazz parties were "all conducted by very respectable people. He contended that while jazz was played on Basin Street it was born in Milneburg and that that Milenburg Joys (not Basin Street Blues) should be the "New Orleans anthem". Riley suggested that a monument to jazz placed, not on Basin Street but "where Milneburg once stood at Pontchartrain Beach between the lighthouse and former shoreline. The same day Riley's letter appeared so did one from Blanchin which stated that the non-profit New Orleans Jazz Club, formed in 1948, supported Morrison's Basin Street monument site.

On July 21, 1955, the editor of the Picayune opined that a panel of jazz historians could best choose the location and wording for a monument and ended with "Take it easy", regarding the furor the issue had caused.  The following day, William Dane's letter appeared (on July 22, 1955) suggesting that, instead of Bolivar, the statue of assassinated police chief David Hennessy should be transplanted from Metairie Cemetery. August 1, 1955 brought a letter from J.F.O. who claimed he had played music for 35 years, thought a monument to jazz was a good idea, and stated "I never heard of Simon Bolivar", which was likely the sentiment of many other  New Orleanians.  

TodayInNewOrleansHistory/1957November25BolivarStatue1.gifTodayInNewOrleansHistory/1957November25BolivarStatue2.gifDespite the hoopla, the name for Basin Street's neutral ground as "Garden of the Americas" was officially adopted via a city ordinance on April 14, 1957. On Monday, May 6, 1957, a "Parade of Progress" ambled 22 blocks from the Municipal Auditorium to Basin Street at Canal where ground was broken for the plaza that would contain Simon Bolivar's giant likeness. The Tulane band played for guests from South and Central America.  The first shovel of dirt was turned by Francisco Pacanins, Consul General of Venezuela, whose country provided $350.00 for the monument.  The parade then proceeded to the New City Hall which officially opened that day.  And finally, on Monday November 25, 1957, the seven-ton, 12 foot-tall, granite statue of Simon Bolivar was unveiled. on the Basin Street neutral ground.

The Bolivar statue created by Abel Vallmitjana features five bronze emblems, detailing the five Bolivian coats of arms. Seven flagpoles, six of which represent the countries Bolivar liberated in the early 1800s stand behind him
Pictured from left to right are Adolfo E. Hegewisch, Chairman of the Bolivar Monument Committee and president of the Bolivarian Society of Louisiana; Dr. Cesar Gonzalez, Venezuelan ambassador in the United States; Dr. Pedro Gutierrez-Alfaro, Venezuelan Minister of Health and Welfare; Mayor deLesseps S. Morrison; and Francisco Pacanins, Consul General of Venezuela in New Orleans.
Photos from the New Orleans Public Library.

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"When I wrote and recorded 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' back in 1952, it marked the birth of rock 'n' roll," said Price, who was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1998. "That song sold millions, and it was the introduction of music as we know it today."   Lloyd Price in an interview with Bill Herald of  Born one of 11 children of Louis and Beatrice Price in Kenner on March 9, 1933, Lloyd Price had formal musical training in trumpet and piano, sang in his church's gospel choir, and was a member of a combo in high school. On March 9, 2010, his 77th Birthday, in New Orleans, Lloyd Price was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame and on June 20, 2010, Price appeared and sang in season 1 finale of the HBO series "Treme". Price currently manages Icon Food Brands, which makes a line of primarily Southern-style foods, including Lawdy Miss Clawdy food products, ranging from canned greens to sweet potato cookies, and a line of Lloyd Price foods, such as Lloyd Price's Soulful 'n' Smooth Grits and Lloyd Price's Energy-2-Eat Bar (with the brand slogan "Good taste ... Great Personality"), plus Lawdy Miss Clawdy clothing and collectibles. Lloyd Price Avenue in Kenner was named for the singer in 2007 and the city celebrates an annual Lloyd Price Day.

Lena Himel Cross, nurse. Born, January 22, 1880, at Himelaya Plantation on Bayou Lafourche in Assumption Parish, La.; daughter of Dorothy Bernard and Oscar Himel (q.v.); was educated as a boarding student at Mount Carmel convent in Thibodaux, La., from 1894 to 1901; married Edward Wallace Cross on January 4, 1904; lived in Thibodaux and Gibson, La., before moving to New Orleans in 1906; studied nursing at Hotel Dieu, New Orleans, after husband's death in 1912; served as registrar for the Nursing Bureau of New Orleans District Nurses Association; president of the Louisiana State Nurses Association from 1918 to 1921; worked for passage of legislation to protect registered nurses of the state; died March 9, 1942; survived by one daughter, Mrs. M. B. French; services held at Catholic church in Thibodaux with interment in Thibodaux cemetery.  FRom

Joseph Francis Rummel, born on October 14, 1876 in Steinmauern, Baden,  was bishop of the Diocese of Omaha, Nebraska  (Mar. 30, 1928 - Mar. 9, 1935) and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (March 9, 1935 - November 8, 1964).  By October 1962, Rummel was eighty-six years old, in declining health, and almost completely blind from glaucoma. Nevertheless, he left New Orleans for Vatican City to attend the first session of the Second Vatican Council.  Archbishop Joseph Rummel died in New Orleans on November 9, 1964, at the age of eighty-eight. He was succeeded by John Cody, the Coadjutor Archbishop (1961–1964). Archbishop Rummel is interred under the sanctuary at Saint Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter. Archbishop Rummel was the Archbishop of New Orleans for twenty-nine years, through a world war, and the beginning of the Civil Rights era. His Youth Progress Program had a profound impact on education in the city of New Orleans. and his leadership ended racial segregation in the churches and the schools of the Archdiocese.Archbishop Rummel High School in Metairie is named after him.

Born in New Orleans on September 20, 1908,  Henry John "Zeke" Bonura became the youngest male athlete ever to win an event at the National (AAU) Track and Field Championships in June 1925, at the age of sixteen, throwing a  javelin 65.18 meters to claim the title and to beat the record by nearly twenty-feet.  He played Major League baseball from 1934 through 1940 -- for the Chicago White Sox (1934–1937), the Washington Senators (1938, 1940), the New York Giants (1939), and the Chicago Cubs (1940). In a seven-season career, Bonura posted a .307 batting average with 119 home runs and 704 RBI in 917 games played. Bonura received the Legion of Merit award while serving in the US Army during World War II for his work as athletic director for the Army in Oran, Algeria in 1943 in 1944. He died on  March 9, 1987 in his hometown.

James Mather (c. 1750 in England – 1821 in St. James Parish, Louisiana) was mayor of New Orleans from March 9, 1807 to October 8, 1812. His place of birth is variously given as Coupland in Northumberland; or London. A merchant by trade, he moved to America in 1776, and by 1780 he was working in New Orleans, contracting with the Spanish Government to operate two vessels out of the port and importing articles required in the trade with the Indians of Louisiana and West Florida. Mather & his descendents owned a large sugar plantation in Lutcher, Louisiana until 1879. He was appointed mayor of New Orleans by William C.C. Claiborne, governor of the Louisiana Territory. Almost as soon as became mayor, he was obliged to take measures to defend the city against the possibility of a conspiracy by the friends of Aaron Burr, which, however, did not eventuate. In November 1809, through similar measures, he is credited with averting an insurrection of the black population. Mather attempted to establish a viable police force for the city, but failed. He succeeded, however, in creating a tolerably efficient fire department. The last years of his administration saw him under fire for being under the influence of certain individuals, for failing to protect the city's interests by vetoing the resolutions of the city council, and for hiring people to write anonymous letters attacking his enemies and paying them with public funds: whether any of this was true has proved impossible to determine. In 1812, however, he had had enough, and resigned. He retired to his son's property on the Acadian Coast of Louisiana, where he died in 1821.

A transfer ceremony for the Louisiana Purchase was held in New Orleans on November 29, 1803. Since the Louisiana territory had never officially been turned over to the French, the Spanish took down their flag, and the French raised theirs. The following day, General James Wilkinson accepted possession of New Orleans for the United States. A similar ceremony was held in St. Louis on March 9, 1804, when a French tricolor was raised near the river, replacing the Spanish national flag. The following day, Captain Amos Stoddard of the First U.S. Artillery marched his troops into town and had the American flag run up the fort's flagpole. The Louisiana territory was officially transferred to the United States government, represented by Meriwether Lewis. The Louisiana Territory, purchased for less than 3 cents an acre, doubled the size of the United States overnight, without a war or the loss of a single American life, and set a precedent for the purchase of territory. It opened the way for the eventual expansion of the United States across the continent to the Pacific.

1699 -- Native Americans lead Iberville & Bienville to Bayou St. John.  Iberville wrote: "On March 9, [1699] our Indian guide points out a fine path-which leads to a small bayou we will call Bayou St. Jean. He tells us that the Indians use this path and bayou to travel from the Mississippi River to a lake Iberville will call Pontchartrain. When the French missionary Father DuRu later visits this area, he notes, 'There are parrots by the thousands; their plumage is marvelous, but they are far from being as good (to eat) as they are beautiful.' Later we will settle this site because of its path/bayou connection between the river and Lake Pontchartrain. We will call it New Orleans.Source:

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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