I've enjoyed reading all the information about New Orleans. It's a great place to visit, and we hope to return one day soon. In the meantime, good friends are going to visit, and I remember someone telling me that the widest boulevard in the United States was in New Orleans. Can you tell me something about this?
Yes, Dorothy, the widest main street is in New Orleans, not in Kansas or even in Oz. Canal Street has the distinction of being the widest main drag in any American city.
The street's claim to fame was once challenged by a doubter named Mrs. Beatrice Sturkey from Augusta, Georgia. Actually it was the Mayor of Augusta -- W. D. Jennings -- who was certain that Broad Street in his fair city was the widest in the land. So he decided to dispatch Mrs. Sturkey to New Orleans to take measurements.
Representing the Chamber of Commerce, Mrs. Sturkey was warmly welcomed by Mayor Chep Morrison when she arrived in September 1949. Unaware of her mission, Mayor Morrison gave her the keys to the city and made her an honorary citizen. Little did he know what she was up to. Hidden in her briefcase were official documents verifying that the width of Broad Street in Augusta is 170 feet, 2 inches from property line to property line.
As she was leaving, Mrs. Sturkey asked a staff member about the width of Canal Street. She did not like the answer: 171 feet.
So the intrepid Mrs. Sturkey obtained a yardstick and began her own measuring. Escorted by a patrolman and oblivious to honking horns, Mrs. Sturkey set about to prove her claim. But she was to be disappointed. After pacing off the feet and inches and discovering the truth, she declared, "I'm still not convinced. We'll need an official count. It's too close." She proposed that the two mayors meet to take an "official" measurement.
I imagine that the mayors were too busy to get out there themselves and measure to settle the dispute, so Canal Street continues to hold the record for America's widest business thoroughfare.
And the reason that the street is 171 feet is that an act of Congress in 1807 provided for a canal to be dug from the Mississippi River to the turning basin of the Carondelet Canal that had been completed in the 1790s. This canal connected Bayou St. John with Lake Pontchartrain. The act further stipulated that there would be no construction within 60 feet on either side of the canal. A 51-foot canal was planned but never materialized. So around 1852 when the plan was abandoned, the street was legally required to remain that wide.
What is the scoop on the area of the city called "Sugar Hill"? I know that it is an area near Dillard University.
The area known as Sugar Hill -- or the remnants of it -- is across Gentilly Boulevard to the south of Dillard University, which moved to its present site in 1935. In the 1940s this community grew as many black doctors, pharmacists, college professors and successful businessmen settled in and began to call it home. It was a beautiful setting with many enormous oak trees. In fact, at one time there were oak trees all the way from Gentilly Boulevard back four blocks to Benefit Street. But this beautiful grove -- the "Highland" oak grove -- was destroyed when I-610 cut through the area. Many trees as well as neat houses were demolished, and the neighborhood was never the same.
Is anyone familiar with a grocery store from the 1950s that was located in the 3700 block of General Taylor Street, bounded by Tonti, Rocheblave and Delachaise streets? It was called "Doorman's Grocery." What I need to know is the correct spelling of the store.
Jo Ann Cookmeyer
Dear Jo Ann,
The store you are looking for was at 3709 General Taylor St., and the proprietor was Harold L. Dorman. Therefore, it was Dorman's Grocery.