from left Stella Morano and Regina Morano (standing) and Edna Bayley in 1912
Over 150 years old, one mile wide and three miles long comprising a total of 1,300 acres, New Orleans City Park is one of the largest urban Parks in the country. It is located in the heart of the city and is the largest recreation area for the entire metropolitan area.
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. City Park is home of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. Trees in the oldest grove are over 800 years old.
Today’s City Park is distinguished by its large menu of recreational activities as well as by its natural beauty. City Park has a special place in the hearts of generations of New Orleanians and is a must for visitors to the city. A popular place to picnic, play a favorite sport, wander through its gardens or take a boat ride, the Park hosts is visited millions of times each year.
Historically, the minutes of City Park board meetings have been written in great detail. For an historian, they provide a treasure trove of revealing information. There's the light-hearted – the exact cost to purchase a dozen squirrels, or a brief reference to a “Beatle Show” when the Beatles played at City Park Stadium. They also reflect much more profound subjects such as yellow fever in the 1800’s and race relations in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Selley Foundation, the Park’s Board Minutes were scanned and preserved electronically in 2017. From 1891 to 1927 the Board Minutes were written by hand. From 1928 onward the minutes were typed. Those typed PDFs can be searched with key words. If you click on any file, and then press Ctrl+F, the Find bar will appear and you can type in a keyword. This is only possible for minutes that are typed (not handwritten).
In addition to the scanned board minutes, we are also in the process of pulling together a brief timeline of each year. We provide a snapshot of a dozen or so references from each year that we hope paint an accurate picture of the affairs of the Park in a particular year. We have not “updated” the minutes to reflect modern lexicon (e.g. Negro v. African American).
You will also see several recurring themes:
- The Park has served as the primary recreation facility for Greater New Orleans for generations.
- It changes over the decades, but live musical performances from John Philip Sousa and the New Orleans Symphony to the Beatles and Pearl Jam are an integral part of the Park.
- The Park’s patrons love the trees, lagoons and seasonal flowers.
- Securing adequate funding to operate and maintain the Park has always been a challenge.
- The Park serves many different constituencies: student athletes, bikers, nature lovers, music lovers, folks who like to fish, golfers, walkers, botanists, and the list goes on and on. The board and staff do their best to meet the needs of each constituency while recognizing that some conflicts are inevitable.
New Orleans City Park Improvement Association Minutes:
1963 Snow Day in City Park
New Orleans Botanical Garden Foundation Minutes