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Lasting Developments

The Making of New Orleans

Jackson Square had bright shell walkways when George François Mugnier photographed it about 1890. Otherwise, the scene looks barely altered now – although the Cabildo’s roof dates from after a 1989 fire – and the Presbytere’s cupola, which went missing before 1900 and was toppled by the 1915 hurricane, was replaced in 2005.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION

We bemoan those glimpses of the city that were denied to us prior to the invention of photography. Though illustrators did their part, the world we would envision gained fullness only once the photographer was able to focus his lens. Pictured on these pages are images of the city with one dating back to approximately 1858. More recent shots show life in the city (much of it fueled by the Work Progress Administration) during the 1930s. For many contemporary New Orleanians life here began anew with the Katrina recovery. But cities grow, and sometimes decline, with starts and stops over decades. We are thankful for those moments when a photographer was nearby.

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