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Blake Pontchartrain: Capdevielle Place 

The park is named for the former mayor

click to enlarge A flower bed encircled by converging sidewalks sits at one end of the small, triangular Capdevielle Place park.

Photo by Kandace Power Graves

A flower bed encircled by converging sidewalks sits at one end of the small, triangular Capdevielle Place park.

Hey Blake,

I can find a bunch of information about Paul Capdevielle, but very little about the pocket park on Esplanade Avenue that bears his name. It seems to have been named for him while he was still mayor of New Orleans due to his work improving City Park. Do you have any more of its history?

Charlie London

Dear Charlie,

  Capdevielle Place, the triangle of land in the 2600 block of Esplanade Avenue, near North Broad Street and bordered by Crete and Bell streets, was purchased by the Esplanade Avenue Commission for $1,500, The Times-Picayune reported in 1900. "It was decided by the commission to name the park in honor of the president of the commission, the Hon. Paul Capdevielle, also mayor of the city," the newspaper article said. The triangle resulted from an expansion of Esplanade Avenue that left an oddly shaped lot.

  A resident of the avenue, Capdevielle had just been sworn in as mayor that year. He was born in New Orleans in 1842 and graduated from Jesuit High School and Louisiana State University. A lawyer and insurance executive, Capdevielle's political history began in 1877, when he was appointed to the local school board. Elected mayor in 1899, his major achievements included installation of the modern sewerage system and organization of the Public Belt Railroad.

  He served as mayor for just one term, but was president of New Orleans City Park for 26 years, from 1896 to 1922. According to historians Sally and William Reeves' History of City Park: New Orleans, Capdevielle's "skill in accommodating divergent political factions was his great stock-in-trade. ... As mayor and park president, Capdevielle could bring the full force of his prestige to address the park's utilitarian needs."

  When he left the mayor's office, Capdevielle was appointed state auditor. He died on Aug. 13, 1922. A one-block street in the CBD bears a misspelled version of his name, as well as the restaurant, Capdeville.

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