Washington Square
Between Frenchman and Elysian Fields Streets lies Washington Square, the first public recognition given in New Orleans to the illustrious Father of His Country. The park is inclosed. Formerly all the parks were similarly inclosed, and at night, promptly at 9 o'clock, the watchmen cleared the park and locked the gates. The custom still maintains at Washington Square.
Just across from the square is a large, brown, two-storied brick building; this was the ancient residence of Governor Claiborne. His descendants still live in this beautiful old home.
Though it is called the "New Rampart Street," it is full of historic interest.




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Ecole des Orphelins Indigens

Near the corner of Union and Dauphine stands the "Ecole des Orphelins Indigens." This was the first free school ever opened for negro children in the United States. In 1840 an old free colored woman died and left to the Catholic archdiocese a fund in trust, for the establishment of a free school for colored orphan children, and directed that her old home, which stood on the spot, should be used as a schoolhouse. Some years ago the old landmark of ante-bellum days was torn down, but the school, which had a continuous existence since its foundation in 1840, has endured.

Champs Elysees

At Washington Square the car crosses Elysian Fields Street or the "Champs Elysees," as it was called by the old Creoles. What visions of Parisian splendor rise to mind at the mere inention of "Les Champs Elysees." In early days the famous old Marigny Canal ran along the street from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. When Marigny decided to build his own city and cut up all his plantation domain into streets, he laid out this wide avenue and called it the "Champs ElysSes." Trees were planted all along the canal; beautiful sailing boats were always to be found in the waters. He intended that the New Orleans Champs ElysSes should rival its famous Parisian namesake. Seeing the advantages offered by the street, the American Company which contemplated the erection of the old St. Charles Hotel offered to erect the famous hostelry in this street if they could secure the section lying between Dauphine and Burgundy Streets. But Marigny said that the Champs Elysees was for the children of France and asked such a fabulous price for the lot that the Company finding it above all consideration in sheer disgust purchased the square above Canal Street, where after many years was erected the old St. Charles Hqtel. Alas! for the dreams of the colonial magnate. The "Champs ElysSes" is now a railroad street, frequently used for parking cars, and none of the grandeur that its founder intended for it ever materialized.

Pontchartrain Railroad

It may interest visitors to know that this is the Second Oldest Railroad in the United States, and that along its line, after the canal, which had been drained, was gradually filled in, were erected the first freight platforms ever used. It is a curious fact that in the old days when the engine could not generate sufficient steam, sails were attached to the cars to assist in propelling the train. This may read like a fairy tale, but its veracity was vouched for by such authoritative eye-witnesses as the late historian Gayarre the old Notary Guyol, and others. The Pontchartrain Railroad still bearing its ancient name, though owned by the Louisville and Nashville Company, runs along Elysian Fields to the old town of Milneburg, which stands on the banks of the "Old Lake," which was the only lake resort of early Creole days.

Benedictine Convent of the Holy Family

At 3029 Dauphine Street is the Benedictine Convent of the Holy Family. The sisterhood was driven out of Germany after the Franco-Prussian war when Bismarck enacted the May laws. New Orleans ever friendly to the exile offered it an asylum and its work has been marked by continuous progress and prosperity.

Cotton Presses

At Press Street, across the tracks of the Queen and Crescent Railroad, extending along the road from the river front to Rampart and down Dauphine and Royal for several squares, was once the Great Cotton Press Section of New Orleans. Here, the year round, in season and out of season, could be seen thousands of bales of the fleecy staple piled so high one above another along the sidewalks and through the extensive cotton yards that it seemed as though all the world of cotton had come to New Orleans to find a market. These were the busy days when "Cotton was King." It was stored and Dressed here in immense quantities until the Queen and Crescent Railroad came and ran its line right through the heart of the old presses and pickeries and in time acquired all this ground; the great brick-walled presses were torn down, and all that remains of the old yards are the long line of sheds under which cotton was formerly stored in the famous Natchez Press. These now Serve for car sheds.

Mount Carmel Female Orphan Asylum

On Piety Street, near Dauphine, is the Mount Carmel Female Orphan Asylum, established sixty-three years ago. On the corner of North Peters and Reynes Streets, is St. Isidore's College, a large educational institution under the direction of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. It was opened in 1879 as an industrial school and model farm, and is closely modeled upon the famous school of the Fathers of the Holy Cross, at Notre Dame, Ind.

{The Picayune's guide to New Orleans (1904)


New Orleans History, 1897-1917

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