Upper Pontalba Building - New Orleans LA
The Pontalba Buildings flank Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The Upper Pontalba Building lies on the west side of the square along St. Peter Street, the Lower Pontalba Building on the east side on St. Ann Street. Both are block-long structures, four stories in height, built of brick and graced with the ironwork typical of buildings in the French Quarter. They were originally built in the 1840s.
The two building were the gift of the Baroness de Pontalba, who wished to improve the appearance of Jackson Square – then the center of the city. They had fallen into decay by the time of the New Deal. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) made extensive exterior and interior renovations between 1935 and 1937. They converted the Upper Pontalba Building, owned by the City of New Orleans, into modern apartments and made similar improvements to the Lower Pontalba, owned by the State of Louisiana, turning portion into a museum with rooms furnished to represent the governors of the French, Spanish and American periods. The 1941 WPA Louisiana state travel guide characterized the Pontalba Apartments as “among the most popular living quarters of the Vieux Carré.”
The buildings were designated as National Historic Landmarks in 1974 and restored yet again in 1995 by the city.
Federal Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration for the City of New Orleans. The New Orleans City Guide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1938.
Federal Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration of Louisiana. Louisiana: A Guide to the State. New York: Hastings House, 1941.
New Orleans Public Library. WPA Photograph Collection.
Stanonis, Anthony J. Creating the Big Easy: New Orleans and the Emergence of Modern Tourism, 1918-1945. Athens, Geog.: University of Georgia Press, 2006.
Project originally submitted by John Murphey on June 8, 2018.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.
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