City Park History
Once the site of Allard Plantation facing Bayou St. John, City Park's 1,300 acres offer visitors a sample of the city's riches both in fine art and natural splendor. Home of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world, City Park whispers stories of duels at dawn and Creole romance beneath the surface of today's mecca of children's entertainment and leisure opportunities. Spanning the transition in art and architecture between Neo-Classical revival, Art Deco and Modern styles, the park's bridges, buildings and outdoor sculptures are a constant source of delight to visitors.
City Park occupies an expansive area in Mid-City that was once a swampy, oak-filled forest, home to Accolapissa and Biloxi Indians who traded by dugout canoes along the banks of Bayou St. John. Recognizing the valuable waterway of the bayou from Lake Pontchartrain (just north of the park), explorer Jean Baptist-LeMoyne, sieur de Bienville, was finally able to establish the location of the city of New Orleans for the crown of France.
The land which City Park occupies today is especially romantic for its long favor with Creole gentlemen as a place to conduct their "affaires d'honneur" - dueling, in fact, was not outlawed in the park until 1890 - 36 years after the land left to the city by philanthropist John McDonogh was declared a public park.
No history of City Park is complete without mention of the enormous efforts of the Roosevelt Administration in City Park during the Great Depression. More than $12 million federal dollars were spent and more than 20,000 men and women were employed through the Works Progress Administration building bridges, roadways, fountains, a garden and stadium and digging over 10 miles of lagoons - work all done by hand.
Portions of this history were taken from Historic City Park New Orleans by Sally K. Evans Reeves and William D. Reeves. A brief outline of historic moments and photos follows.
|Program from Annual Spring Festival|
|President Fraklin D. Roosevelt visiting the Park|
|Free concerts at Popp Bandstand|
|Big Bass Fishing Rodeo|