A BI-CAMERAL COUNCIL


The legislature in 1852 repealed the charter of the three municipalities and consolidated them into one. On the same day it annexed the City of Lafayette, now the fourth municipal district of New Orleans, which had grown up just above the city limits. The debt of the three municipalities and Lafayette at the time was $7,700,000, of which $2,000,000 was over due. Commissioners of the consolidated debt were appointed, who soon straightened out this confusion and put the debt on a better basis. Through the improved credit of the city some $5,000,000 of this indebtedness was extinguished, and in 1853, one year after the consolidation, the bonded debt of the city was given as only $3,000,000.

The new city government was bi-cameral — with two chambers, one of aldermen and the other of assistant aldermen. The former were elected by municipal districts, which were then fixed by the charter, and have remained unchanged up to this day. The assistant aldermen were chosen by the wards, of which eleven were created, and which also remain unchanged. The representation was as follows: Aldermen — first district, 5; second, 4; third, 2; fourth, 2; total, 13. Assistant aldermen — first ward, 2; second, 3; third, 6; fourth, 3; fifth, 3; sixth, 2; seventh, 2; eighth, 2; ninth, 1; tenth, 2; eleventh, 1; total, 25. Besides the aldermen there was a mayor, who was ex officio chief of police, and who received a salary of $4,000 a year; a controller, surveyor and street commissioner. The city election was held in March.

This municipal system continued eighteen years, until 1870; but a considerable portion of that time it was under suspension, because of the civil war, during which period New Orleans was under martial law and the municipal affairs were administered by the military authorities. Considerable modifications were made in the city charter in 1856, with reference to assessments and taxation; and in 1866, in order to provide for the reorganization of the civil government, which had so long been suspended.

During the military occupation of New Orleans a military officer was detailed by the commandant to act as mayor of the city, but possessed little real power. Such municipal matters as required attention were performed by a finance committee and a committee on streets and landing.

The street-cleaning was attended to by the military authorities, and was well done. A new department of the municipality had sprung up in consequence of the war: this was some provision for the poor. The suspension of commerce and of all industries had greatly increased the number of the poor in New Orleans, and the situation was made worse by the large number of negroes who fled to New Orleans to seek refuge within the Union lines. These people had to be fed, and public markets were provided, whence free rations were distributed. The money neccssary therefore was obtained in fines and assessments levied on the banks and other corporations, and even on private individuals, for assistance given by them to the Confederate cause.

In 1870, Algiers and Jefferson City were annexed to New Orleans and became the fifth and sixth municipal districts respectively; in 1874, Carrollton was annexed as the seventh district.

Under the circumstances that existed it was not to be wondered at that popular sentiment should demand an entirely new charter for the city. This was granted by the Legislature in June, 1882.

— STANDARD HISTORY OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
    MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT, By Norman Walker
    MUNICIPAL AND MILITARY HISTORY
    EDITED BY HENRY RIGHTOR
    THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY CHICAGO, 1900
    As Written


Storyville, New Orleans Red-Light District
1897-1917


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