Could you tell me why there are cement picnic tables under the overpass in City Park?
Imagine City Park without Interstate 610. Even with the train track intruding, it's lovely. Until the early 1970s there was no highway or traffic ripping through this beautiful landscape. The picnic tables on Zachary Taylor Drive were welcomed by those of us who enjoyed al fresco dining. Those tables predate the interstate by many years.
And near the picnic tables were golf courses. In 1938, a new clubhouse had been built on Zachary Taylor Drive. This facility served the golfers until May 1967.
In 1963 the City Park Board learned of the Louisiana State Highway Department's intention to acquire a 200-foot right of way through the park. In 1958, the country embarked on an ambitious plan to build highways after the National Defense Highway Act provided for the creation of an extensive interstate highway system across America. Unfortunately, parts of our city were destroyed by the construction of Interstate 10 and the I-610 bypass. Remember Claiborne Avenue before the interstate was built?
It was clear that the new I-610 bypass would have a big impact on the park. In particular, it would go right through the golf clubhouse, and an entire golf course would become unusable.
A battle began between the City Park Board and the State Highway Department (now the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development). Two years later, on December 24, 1965, the newspapers carried the story: The park would receive $1.24 million to build a new clubhouse and golf course to replace the ones that would have to be abandoned.
Environmentalists filed suit in federal court in 1972, but their suit was dismissed.