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Visitors strolling down Decatur Street toward the French Market are sure to notice the statue of Joan of Arc that rises above the tiny New Place de France Park at the intersection of Decatur and St. Philip Streets. The people of France gifted this golden bronze statue of Joan of Arc riding her horse and carrying a flag to the city of New Orleans. The statue serves as the ending point for the annual Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc parade that strolls through the French Quarter each year on Twelfth Night to honor the Maid of Orleans's birthday.
You can find this historical landmark in the middle of the French Quarter on one of the city's busiest streets. 1850 House was designed by the famous James Gallier Sr., whose Gallier House is also a historical landmark. Both the upper and lower areas are an excellent representation of life in New Orleans in the mid-1800s. The interior depicts striking differences between the lifestyles of an upper middle class family and the servants who worked for them. This well-preserved townhouse is one of two historic structures formerly owned by Baroness Micaela Pontalba. There is a gift shop and bookstore on the first floor.
The Sisters of Ursula established Catholic schools for African-American and Native American girls and set up the first orphanage in Louisiana. The convent is now home to Catholic archives dating back to 1718. It is the oldest building on record in New Orleans and the entire Mississippi Valley. It sits across from another historic site, the Beauregard-Keyes House, and is part of the Archbishop Antoine Blanc Memorial. It is open for self guided tours.
The Beauregard-Keyes House was built in 1826 by a wealthy New Orleans auctioneer. This “raised cottage” features Doric columns and handsome twin staircases and was once home to General P. G. T. Beauregard who occupied the house with several members of his family from 1865 to 1867. From 1944 to 1970 it was the residence of novelist Frances Parkinson Keyes, who wrote a book about the General.
Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter, contains a church, a seat of government and major stores. Along with all of the other important elements, there is a historic landmark called Washington Artillery Park. It is a raised concrete area creating a great spot to stop and relax while you watch the paddle boats glide down the Mississippi. The mounted canon is a model of the same canon used in the Civil War. This monument honors the local 141st Field Artillery of the Louisiana National Guard that saw action from the Civil War through World War II.
Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter, has been around since the 1700's when it was originally known as the Place d'Armes. The center of the park showcases a large statue of Andrew Jackson. The square is surrounded by historic buildings including the St. Louis Cathedral, which is a minor Basilica. The old city hall in the square is where the ultimate version of the Louisiana Purchase was signed. The square was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
In 1840 plans were put into place to commission a statue of Andrew Jackson for the center of Jackson Square. The bronze statue of General Jackson atop his horse was completed on December 1, 1855, but was not unveiled in New Orleans until February 9, 1856. A crowd of nearly 25,000 people gathered around Jackson Square for the unveiling ceremony. Artist Clark Mills designed the statue at a cost of $30,000. The Louisiana legislature also had allocated $10,000 for the project. Most of the remaining funding for the project is said to have been donated by the Baroness Micaela Almonaster de Pontalba.
The center of all cultural activities, the French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans. The city of New Orleans was literally built around the main square of what was then known as the Vieux Carré after the city's founding in 1718. However, most of the area's buildings come from the early 19th Century, when the city was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Although originally settled by French Creoles, by the early 20th Century they were mostly gone from the French Quarter and bohemian culture began to boom in the area. Today, you will pass architectural delights like Jackson Square and its Saint Louis Cathedral as you saunter down the streets. The French Quarter's single most famous landmark, Bourbon Street, is a nightlife mainstay, being the main drag of Mardi Gras. Replete with rich architectural history and cultural implications, the French quarter is thronged by people of all ages.