A few days ago, I received the latest vintage New Orleans postcard to add to my “vintage NOLA” collection. I’ve received at least a dozen over the last couple of years via swap-bot swappers.
The linen postcards which follow measure approximately 3.5 x 5.5 inches. None of the postcards bear dates, so I can only judge the printing date by the postal instructions: “Place one cent stamp here.” The cost to mail a postcard was one cent from 1898 to 1917, which means most of the postcards were printed during this period.
New Orleans Vintage Postcards Back
Like this one, each bears the line, “New Orleans–America’s Most Interesting City” on the back. Forgive my bias, but I couldn’t agree more.
Courtyard, Little Theatre, 616 St. Peter, New Orleans
From the postcard back: “Le Petit Theatre du Vieux-Carre” is considered one of the leading Little Theatres of the country. It occupies the former home and courtyard of Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, the last Spanish Governor of Louisiana. The courtyard is one of the most beautiful in the city.
Here’s another view of the Little Theatre Courtyard:
Courtyard of Little Theatre, New Orleans
Here’s one of the iron lacework so popular in the French Quarter:
Lacework in Iron in Old New Orleans
From the postcard back: These delicate lacework patterns in wrong and cast iron, characteristic of the Vieux Carre give the quarter of New Orleans its atmosphere of old France and Old Spain.
Jackson Square, showing the Cabildo, the St. Louis Cathedral, and Pontalba Apartments, New Orleans
From the postcard back: Jackson Square, originally known as Place D’Armes is a monument to Don Andres Almonester y Roxas, whose funds built the St. Louis Cathedral in 1794, and Pontalba Apartments, flanking the Square. The building to the left of the religious edifice is the Cabildo, best known monument to the age of Spanish domination, and storehouse of historic treasures. The building on the right of the church is the Presbytere, housing the Natural Science Division of the Louisiana State Museum. In the center of the square is the Jackson Monument unveiled in 1856. Jackson Square has been well-preserved and is under excellent care.
Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans
From the postcard back: Pirate’s Alley extends for one block from Royal Street to Chartres Street. Through this alleyway pirates were taken to the Cabildo Jail. It is also known as Old Orleans Alley and separates the Cabildo from Old St. Louis Cathedral.
The Old Absinthe House, Bourbon at Bienville, New Orleans
From the postcard back: The Old Absinthe House is one of the oldest buildings in New Orleans’ internationally famous Vieux Carre and was the headquarters, during the latter part of the 18th and the early part of the 19th centuries, of Jean Lafitte, the pirate-patriot of whose prowess and wrath volumes have been written. Today, after the span of three centuries, it is still catering to connoisseurs and discriminating drinkers from every part of the world.
Napolean Bonaparte House, New Orleans
From the postcard back: The Napoleon Bonaparte House, situated in the heart of New Orleans’s famous View Carre or French Quarter, is located at the corner of St. Louis and Chartres Streets. This building was erected with the idea of providing quarters of refuge for Napoleon Bonaparte after the bold plot in which the story says the noted LaFitte band of pirates was involved to kidnap him from exile in St. Helena and bring him to New Orleans. The plot failed because Napoleon died before it could be executed.
Fan Window in Governor Claiborne’s House, Toulouse Street, New Orleans
From the postcard back: In many of the old homes in the Vieux Carre, huge fan windows like this one, the finest n the city, na still be found. Claiborne, the first American Governor of the territory of Orleans, was nominated on Friday, October 5, 1804. In 1812 the territory of Orleans became the present state of Louisiana.
St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans
From the postcard back: St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, La. Accommodating 1000 Guests. A Dinkler Hotel. Carling Dinkler, Pres.
This postcard depicts the third St. Charles Hotel, built shortly after fire destroyed the second building in 1894. The first building was also destroyed by fire–in1851. See here for more information and images of the first two buildings.
From the postcard back: Canal Street, one of the widest, most beautiful, and best lighted streets in the world, is the center of all activities in New Orleans.
Azaeleas in Bloom, City Park of New Orleans
From the postcard back: One of the beautiful plantings of azaleas to be found in New Orleans. The city has recently completed a floral trail of over 25 miles in length, making thus one of the most colorful winter garden spots in the United States.
Unloading Bananas, New Orleans
From the postcard back: New Orleans is the world’s greatest banana port. More than 700 ships arrive each year laded with 25,000 to 50,000 bunches of bananas. Each individual bunch is carried from the hold of the ship tot he door of the refrigerator on mechanical conveyers.
These last few, though vintage, are a lot more recent than the smaller, brightly colored linen postcards above.
An updated image of Jackson Square:
Jackson Square, New Orleans
And the Pontalba Apartments:
Pontalba Building, New Orleans
From the postcard back: Pontalba Apartments. Built in 1850, the two red brick structures on either side of Jackson Square are believed to be the first apartment buildings in the United States.
Bourbon and Bienville, New Orleans
From postcard back: Crossroads of the historic French Quarter. The corner is also the home of the Absinthe House. Photo by Don Ceppi.
This postcard features postcard images I remember purchasing many, many moons ago when I was working on a project for my Louisiana History class (in junior high school). Featured on the postcard are: at The Superdome, Jackson Square, Bourbon and Bienveille, Cafe Du Monde, Bourbon and Bienville signs, The Dickson’s Place, Lace Balconies, Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral, Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, St. Charles Street Car, and Aft-Deck Oyster Bar.
Judging by the postcards, the things that made New Orleans dear to the hearts of individuals nearly a century ago are still drawing individuals to the city today.
If these postcards have piqued your interest, take some time to look into the history of these buildings and sites of New Orleans. You will be intrigued. There’s just something about New Orleans…
I’m not going to lay down in words the lure of this place. Every great writer in the land, from Faulker to Twain to Rice to Ford, has tried to do it and fallen short. It is impossible to capture the essence, tolerance, and spirit of south Louisiana in words and to try is to roll down a road of cliches, bouncing over beignets and needs and brass bands and it just is what it is–It is home. –Chris Rose, One Dead in the Attic