Thursday, January 1, 2009

Eads Plaza

Eads Plaza
While pushing a Paradise Vendors’ hot dog cart, Ignatius wastes most of one morning here. If you go to New Orleans looking for Eads Plaza, you won’t find it. That’s because the name of the plaza has been changed to Spanish Plaza.
Let’s go back to the beginning…James Buchanan Eads was a self-taught engineer who improved the navigability of the Mississippi River by building jetties in the New Orleans section of the river. You see, silt had built up on the river bottom, making it hard to get in and out of the New Orleans ports. What was once the number two port in the country had slipped to number eleven.
The jetties were a bit controversial because they would narrow the river somewhat. Eads thought that the river’s flow would speed up in the narrower section and wash the silt away. Others thought he was wrong and New Orleans would end up with an even bigger problem than they already had.
Eventually, Eads won over enough of his critics to get the project started. Work on Eads’ jetties began in 1875 and within four years, New Orleans once again became an important port.
Eads Plaza was built at the end of Canal Street, adjacent to the River in order to honor him.
In the 1960’s, Spain wanted to give a gift to the city of New Orleans that would signify their common history. Eads Plaza was redesigned and reworked to honor that vision. In 1976, Spain dedicated the Spanish Plaza to the people of New Orleans. As it stands now, the plaza’s focal point is a fountain, which is surrounded by mosaics representing the seals of the different Spanish provinces.
Here are a couple of photos of the plaza and one of the plaque commemorating the plaza itself…

Spanish Plaza sits at the foot of the New Orleans World Trade Center, which opened in 1965. Here’s a photo of it…

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