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Blakeview: Lafayette Square 

On the park formerly known as Place Publique

click to enlarge A statue of Henry Clay sits in the center of Lafayette Square.

Photo by Reading Tom/Creative Commons

A statue of Henry Clay sits in the center of Lafayette Square.

The courthouse's proximity to Lafayette Square brings to mind the history of this rare oasis of green space in downtown New Orleans. The square, originally called "Place Publique," was designed by Charles Laveau Trudeau in 1788. In 1825, the square was renamed following the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general celebrated as a hero for fighting alongside Americans during the Revolutionary War. The statue of Henry Clay that stands in the middle of the square was moved there from Canal Street in 1900. Other statues in the square honor John McDonogh and Benjamin Franklin. From 1834 to 1938, Lafayette Square also was bordered by the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, which for a time featured the tallest steeple in the city. Gen. Benjamin Butler used the bell in that steeple to ring curfew during the occupation of New Orleans during the Civil War. The nonprofit volunteer group Lafayette Square Conservancy was formed after Hurricane Katrina to help care for the park.

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