Monday, August 15, 2011

The Last Sycamore - and a look back

There's only one sycamore tree in the LSU Footprint. And from my wanderings over nearly two years, I believe it was about the only one after Katrina in the 70 acres that now comprise the VA and LSU Footprints.

Sycamores were favored as a street tree in New Orleans before live oaks came to be the signature boulevard  tree in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century.

Esplanade Avenue, for example, was once lined with sycamores that were young in the 1840s and 1850s, according to some of the city's foremost architectural historians.

This large, mature sycamore on the little stub of Banks Street that remains between S. Galvez and S. Johnson (across from Pershing Place, the old Billy Goat Park) may date from that heyday.  A number of the early, "first wave" sycamores can still be seen, towering amidst the live oaks on the Esplanade Ridge, so it's certainly possible.

A wise friend of the blog has made it very clear that much of the LSU Footprint was actually drained and inhabited at a much earlier date than some might think. The small corner house at 301 S. Galvez that I highlighted recently, for example, appears to date from the 1840s, as revealed by some additional investigation on the friend's part:

The house at 301 S. Roman probably dates from the 1840s.

The block was sold as a set of 28 lots, in May 1840.

Daily Picayune, 10 May 1840
Mass auction of real estate to settle a joint interest between George Washington Lafayette and John Hagan. Auction house of J. A. Beard and S. Guilault, May 11th 1840
Square 28, 28 lots bounded by Roman, Palmyra, Common, Prieur
Note: Square 28 of Faubourg Hagan = modern MD1/Square 466

Here's a look at that notice:

As a note, Tulane Avenue, where it now touches the LSU Footprint, was formerly known as Common Street.

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