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The Quarter: 1903

The Quarter: 1903

New Orleans circa 1903. "Old French courtyard." Shabby chic alfresco. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Court of the Two Sisters

I think this might be what is now the "Court of the Two Sisters." The balconies have no supports then or now, as is quite common. The steep pitch shoots the water away from the structure. It was common to have two or three cisterns for a residence up until 1905 when they were outlawed because of concerns over yellow fever. The fountain in the courtyard could have been "run" by one of the cisterns.

[Or: Court of the Two Cisterns. - Dave]


What's curious to me is how that short double level balcony on the left has no supports to it underneath. Seems it wouldn't take too many people at one time on both levels to send them spilling into the garden?! Hope it's been shored up in the intervening 108 years!

Water towers

looks like a couple of wooden water towers to the right. Anyone know anything about that?

[The cisterns hold rainwater. - Dave]


choked on an eyedropper-type cap. He was holding the cap in his mouth as he applied the drops.

What on Earth?

Not really sure I want to see the front of that infant lefty quarterback with the demonic scaly tail.


Don't go by the plaster and paint. The plants and walkways are neat and well-tended, the wooden railings aren't broken and shaky, and the glass windows are all intact, with straight, uncracked frames.

We tend to forget the enormous advances that have been made. The climate of New Orleans is extremely destructive to the paints available in that era, and to stucco over brick and unreinforced concrete like the plant borders. The front of this house is probably neatly kempt, even by modern standards, but here in a private space they didn't feel the need to expend the large sums necessary to renew the big plastered wall(s). A view of the same or a similar courtyard today might not look all that different except that the brickwork would be painted, an option not available in 1903 because the available paints wouldn't stick to it.


Wow, even over 100 years ago this New Orleans courtyard looked like it had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Better than tossing out the window

Those drain pipes by the window seem like a practical solution to a vexing problem. Kind of gross, but better than most alternatives.

Thomas Lanier Williams

Better known as Tennessee, would have adored this once-majestic but now decrepit garden and these crumbling buildings as a stage set for his unforgettable, prolific plays, although he wasn't born until 1911.

Ironically, with all his poignant and deeply emotional Southern-flavored stories, his own unexpected end came when he choked to death on a bottle cap in a New York hotel on February 24, 1983, a month before his 72nd birthday. Then again, he probably could have written such an ending for himself, depending on what type of bottle the cap was from. The courtyards of New Orleans are mysterious, and sometimes seem spiritual, mystical, even supernatural. These are the backyards of the Stanley Kowalskis.

Stanley was the real name of his boss in a shoe factory. Personally, I'm partial to the broken bench. What else do you wanna know?

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