While the names of Greek mythology are part of a New Orleanian’s everyday life—a good example are the streets named after the nine Muses (Terpsichore, Melpomene, Erato, Calliope, Clio, Thalia, Polymnia, Euterpe and Urania), what is often overlooked is another contribution that the Greeks gave to the city—the three orders of columns: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. Doric, the oldest and the plainest, is harder to find, but seems to pop up with Creole colonial homes. Ionic seems to be most popular in the city, gracing many a public building, notably the ones in City Park. Bank buildings in the CBD seem to favor the ornate Corinthian—and its variations. And it’s these variations—along with those on the Doric and Ionic styles—that give New Orleans buildings and homes their unique character. As the Greeks would say, “Opa!”
• Capital (the top, or crown) made of a circle topped by a square.
• There is no base.
• The shaft has 20 sides. Some variations have it completely plain.
• Famous example? The Parthenon in Athens, Greece
Where you’ll see it in New Orleans: French Quarter Police Station, Pitot House (Mid-City), BPOE No. 80 tomb (Greenwood Cemetery, Mid-City)
• The capital has two opposed scrolls.
• Base looks like a set of stacked rings.
• Slender, fluted pillars
• The pillars have an entasis, which is a small bulge in the columns that make the column look straight, even at a distance.
• Famous example? American Museum of Natural History, New York City
Where you’ll see it in New Orleans: Gallier Hall (CBD), New Orleans Museum of Art (City Park), Peristyle (City Park), Popp’s Bandstand (City Park), U.S. Court of Appeals building (CBD)
• The capital is decorated with acanthus leaves and flowers, often below a small scroll.
• Base is similar to an Ionic column.
• The fluted pillars have an entasis, which is a small bulge in the columns that make the column look straight, even at a distance.
• Famous example? United States Capitol
Where you’ll see it in New Orleans: Le Pavillon Hotel (CBD), Hibernia National Bank building (CBD), Popp Fountain (City Park)