Posted by: Katy | March 18, 2008

New Orleans, 1921


A few months after Katrina, I was at my great aunt’s house talking about the New Orleans she knew growing up.  She and the fellas would go to the Blue Room at the Roosevelt.  Canal Street was the place to shop, and she would get dressed up and wear white gloves and walk under its palms.  On Wednesdays, it was always dinner at Mandina’s and then bowling.  My great aunt, who never married, is truly a New Orleans lady.  I can’t think of anyone more representative.  While we were talking, she pulled out an old brown envelope filled with black and white photos from the 1920’s.  She said that HER uncle (who would be my great-great uncle) brought it over, and she tried to identify who some of the people were but couldn’t.  They are relatives of ours, of course, but nobody can remember what any of them looked like young so their identities remain a mystery.  She was going to throw them away, but I asked if she would instead give them to me.  I’ve considered them a treasure ever since.  Who would have guessed that a couple years later I would buy a house in the old neighborhood that all these long dead, black and white faces used to live in, and that the house would have been constructed around 1925.  SO PERFECT!  These photos show what the area used to look like in the 1920’s.  There are pictures of Canal Street, of a Carnival Parade, and other landmarks.

 This photograph is of a couple standing on the roof of a building with the Hibernia National Bank building dome rising in the background.  I guess most people would believe this to be rather insignificant.  Thank God my aunt gave these to a historian!  I knew right away—this couple wanted to be photographed in front of the tallest (and newest) building in the city!  The 20-story Hibernia Bank Building, constructed in 1921 at a height of 211 feet (64 m), held the title of the tallest in New Orleans for 44 years. 

Well over eighty years later, their great-great granddaughter/niece/cousin/who knows what (me) took a photograph of the same building while walking to the BCS National Championship Game.  Glowing purple and gold for LSU, the dome still stands as a landmark in New Orleans.  It’s no longer called Hibernia Bank nor holds the title of tallest building, but it’s still special.


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