Sight of the Week: Apr 27-May 3, 2015 | Archive

Surprising heroes of New Orleans.
Simon Bolivar, liberator of Venezuela, watching the traffic on Canal Street since 1957.

Regardez-moi! Monuments of New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana

"New Orleans is a place where the quirky rules," said Pierre McGraw, president and founder of the New Orleans Monumental Task Committee, which is trying to preserve at least some of the city's abundant and often eccentric public art.

Elaborate tombs of Metairie Cemetery.
The elaborate tombs of Metairie Cemetery were monuments for the rich, by the rich.

Even a quick stroll on New Orleans' streets turns up unexpected and odd statues, plaques, and sculptures. According to Pierre, the city initially gave the Committee a list of all of the monuments it knew about, 33 in all. The Committee then went out and conducted a survey by walking around. Its list currently tops 250.

New Orleans began erecting monuments in the 1850s, partly because of the artistic passions of this Mediterranean-like city, and partly because New Orleans has a lot of people and events worth remembering. "There's a lot to commemorate and a lot of characters to honor," said Pierre. Also, New Orleans was an incubator of disease and hard living for many years, so it has a lot of cemeteries and was home to a lot of monument-makers.

Any truncated list of New Orleans public art will dissatisfy completists, but these are the statues, plaques, and monuments that caught our attention and nested in our brains. We hope they survive. The perverse climate and soil of New Orleans, not to mention its occasional cataclysmic storms and hurly-burly politics, have made it a historically insecure place for permanent tributes. But the Monumental Task Committee is working to turn that around.

Musical Legend: Chris Owens.
Musical Legend of New Orleans: Chris Owens.

"This city has done a poor job of taking care of its monuments, that's no secret," said Pierre, "but we have a lot of success stories now."

Quirky Monuments of New Orleans

Address:
New Orleans, LA
Directions:
Odd statues can be found throughout the city.
RA Rates:
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Andy Jackson: New Orleans' Favorite PresidentAndy Jackson: New Orleans' Favorite President, New Orleans, LA - < 1 mi.
Cabildo Museum - Death Mask, Caskets, LeechesCabildo Museum - Death Mask, Caskets, Leeches, New Orleans, LA - < 1 mi.
Old Man RiverOld Man River, New Orleans, LA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Boy and the Boot (race track), New Orleans, LA - 2 mi.

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April 27, 2015

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Quirky Monuments of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana (Apr 27-May 3, 2015)

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