I heard that Algiers was called "the Brooklyn of the South." Why would it get this nickname?
If you were living in the early part of the 20th century, you might have heard jazz musicians in New Orleans say they were playing a gig "over da river." Of course, you guessed that they were probably referring to Algiers. In New York, you cross a river to get to Brooklyn, so Algiers got the name the "Brooklyn of the South." In the Algiers Point and Algiers Riverview neighborhoods, you can visit the homes of some of the early jazz greats and the places they played.
Algiers Point was a thriving neighborhood in the early 1900s, where anyone, particularly dockworkers, foundry workers, and rail yard workers, could find wine, women and song. And the songs were played by the great jazz musicians of the day: Buddy Bolden, Louis Armstrong, Frank Duson, Oscar "Papa" Celestine, Manuel Manetta, Oscar and Mickey Marcour, Emmet Hardy, Norman Brownlee, Lester Young, "Kid" Thomas Valentine, Peter Bocage and Henry "Red" Allen. Allen, one of Algiers' most famous musicians, was born in that neighborhood as were several of the other greats; others just made Algiers their home for a time.
Algiers has a long history of brass band music, and bands such as the Pickwick, the Excelsior and the Pacific, some of the earliest bands that influenced the birth of jazz, hired musicians from "over da river" in the "Brooklyn of the South."
Can you tell me where I can purchase one of those colorful papier mache fish that are all around town?
I'm sure you will agree that the fish are absolute fintastic! All of the fish are owned by individuals, companies or schools, so you have to convince someone to sell you his fish. To their owners, they are prized possessions. Good luck.
The fish project began with the Young Leadership Council after Chicago's public art project -- Cows on Parade -- was a huge success. But we do fish here better than cows, so the council arranged for Kern Studios to design a 5-foot-high fiberglass fish that would be the canvas for local artists. The group then found corporate sponsors for each fish, and the artists went to work.
The fish swam into the city in May 2000, and everybody was wowed. During "The Festival of Fins," we saw fish on Canal, Poydras, Loyola and Magazine streets, around the Aquarium of the Americas, down the Riverwalk, outside the Museum of Art, at the airport and elsewhere. Dr. Seuss would have been enchanted. But there were more than just "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish." The 215 fish on display were the fanciful creations of amazing artists. There was even a "Cow Fish" in honor of Chicago.
When it was time for the fish to go, an auction was held and about 100 of the fish were sold at the New Orleans Hilton to raise money for charity. Individuals and companies had each paid at least $3,000 to create each fish, and schools paid a minimum of $2,000. The artists were paid $1,000 and Kern Studios got about $1,000 per fish. The buyers had the option of keeping their creations or putting them up for auction. More than half of the buyers refused to part with their fish.
The night of the auction, Nov. 9, 2000, a standing-room-only crowd of about 800 bid and outbid each other for the privilege of owning one of the 100 fish that went up for auction. The tickets for the auction cost $35, and folks gladly paid for the opportunity of owning one of the unique creations. Bidding started at $1,000, and the fancy fish were sold in a flash for sums of $7,000, $9,500, $11,000 and more. A fish with wheels by Xavier University sculptor John Scott sold for $28,000.
Proceeds from the auction benefited about 60 nonprofit organizations, each chosen by the original owner of the fish.