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Blake Pontchartrain: The bricks at the Audubon Aquarium 

1989's "Pave The Way" campaign gathered names for sidewalk bricks

click to enlarge The public purchased bricks engraved with names and sentiments as a fundraiser for the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Those bricks now form the sidewalk leading to
the aquarium.

Photo by Kandace Power Graves

The public purchased bricks engraved with names and sentiments as a fundraiser for the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Those bricks now form the sidewalk leading to the aquarium.

Hey Blake,

Every time we walk past the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, we look for the bricks that we donated. Remind us of the history of these bricks. Is there a website that shows what section our brick is located in?

Frank

Dear Frank,

  The engraved bricks outside the Audubon Aquarium of the America's entrance literally and figuratively paved the way for the facility to open on Sept. 1, 1990. The "Pave the Way" campaign offered commemorative bricks at a cost of $50 for individuals and $100 for corporations, with proceeds used to help finance the aquarium.

  On Sept. 7, 1989, then-Mayor Sidney Barthelemy kicked off the drive. At the kickoff, Ashton Phelps, then-publisher of The Times-Picayune (the campaign's main sponsor), joked that newspapers and fish go together. "Having wrapped them for more than a hundred years, we figure we owe their descendants something more," he said. Forty thousand bricks were available, and 29,575 bricks were sold uring the two-and-a-half-year campaign, according to an aquarium spokeswoman. Purchasers were limited to two lines of text, up to 14 letters or spaces per line, on each brick. No political messages, telephone numbers or suggestive wording were allowed.

  You'll find bricks honoring famous football names Tom Benson, Jim Mora and Morten Andersen; media personalities Angela Hill, Garland Robinette and Bob Breck; and music greats Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and Pete Fountain. There are thousands more bricks that honor everyday folks, their families, friends, school groups and clubs. As the newspaper reported when the aquarium opened, some bricks had romantic messages, such as "D Loves Z," "2gether 4ever, Patty & Randy" and "Patrick and Ellen 100 Honeymoons." Others make you laugh or scratch your head, such as "Thick Asabrick, Gil & Cindy," "Ba!Ba!" and "JN Lunch Bunch, CBGCPGPJMMWTTW."

  The aquarium has a database online where you can search for a brick by the inscription and the donor. There's also a map showing the location of specific bricks at https://audubonnatureinstitute.org/aquarium/explore-aquarium/aquarium-exhibits/380-aquarium-plaza-bricks.

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