The Chicago Tribune published an infuriating piece by Kristen McQueary, who claimed a feeling of “envy” for the “upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.” This sensationalized article justifiably struck a nerve among Katrina victims. It presented itself at perhaps the worst time: at the near precipice of our ten year anniversary.
On a Sunday afternoon on June 24, 1973, around sixty patrons were drinking at the Upstairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans’ French Quarter. At 7:56pm, the buzzer that signaled a cab sounded. The man that opened the steel door was greeted by a hurling Molotov cocktail that quickly engulfed the staircase and spread in seconds. Thirty-two men were brutally murdered; most burned alive. It is the largest known massacre of gay people in our nation’s history.
They are somewhat in chronological order by date taken. Hope you enjoy these as much as I did:
A fascinating yet painful look at some of New Orleans’ iconic landmarks that did not endure the test of time. As Benny Grunch would say, they just “ain’t dere no more.”
1. First Saint Charles Hotel
The first Saint Charles Hotel was built in 1835. A traveling Brit called it the “finest piece of architecture in the New World.” It met its fate in an 1851 fire that burned many other historic structures to the ground as well. This 1847 photo is one of the only known surviving photos of the structure.
As the United States entered the 20th century, increasing population and industrialization led to a nationwide meat shortage. Moving west to acquire more land for grazing or hunting became a limited option as the frontier closed and buffalos were hunted into near extinction. In southern Louisiana, newly invasive water hyacinths, similar to water lilies, transported to New Orleans by Japanese tourists during the 1884 World’s Fair were creating massive ecological dilemmas. In 1910, an audacious plan was put forth to address both concerns: import hippopotamuses from Africa to the bayous of Louisiana to consume the water hyacinths and provide a tasty source of meat for a hungry nation.
New Orleans’ St. Louis Cathedral faced a myriad of obstacles through its circa 300 years of existence. It was first built in 1718, the same year the city was founded under French explorer and colonizer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. The Great New Orleans Fire of 1788 scorched the original structure, and a new structure was completed in 1794. Enlargement and reconstruction in 1850 eradicated much of the original edifice, giving the city its current building. In 1909, the Cathedral faced an uncharacteristic obstacle: nitroglycerin.
“A blow across the shins with a racket is permissible, and broken heads are not uncommon.”
The Choctaw Nation of the lower Mississippi River Valley was one of the most influential yet lesser-known groups of 18th century New Orleans. Since French involvement in the region, interactions between the groups were frequent. Native-American and African-American relations were also common considering French and subsequent Spanish law was more lenient than English law.