while one of the most popular locations in the French Quarter, I had no idea I was looking at Jackson Square when I first saw it. it was just “off to the left” while we were waiting to taste our first beignets. it’s most prominent feature is Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans and later 7th President of the United States, rearing up on his trusty steed. it is one of four identical statues of Jackson, the other three residing in D.C., Nashville, and Jacksonville.
in the colonial period, the space between St. Patrick Cathedral and the river was the Place d’Armes/Plaza de Armas and served as a public space, military parade ground, and open-air market for the burgeoning city. it also served as a place for executions in the rowdier days of the colony, including those of the German Coast Slave Uprising of 1811.
later in the 19th century the Baroness Micaela Pontalba helped transform the square into a garden, lobbing for and financing the transformation into a park. the new design included pathways, benches, fountains, and an iron fence along the outside, with her namesake buildings facing the park from across St. Ann and St. Peter streets. the statue was dedicated in 1856, and a plaque proclaiming that “The Union Must and Shall be Preserved” added during the Civil War by Union General Benjamin Butler during the occupation of the city.
today, now that three of the adjacent streets have been made into pedestrian malls, all manner of artists, performers, and fortune and tarot readers entice tourists. during the time we were around the Square I saw perhaps a half-dozen musical performers of all varieties. while in the Presbytere, I thought the exhibition’s soundtrack had gotten turned up overwhelmingly loud … but it turned out to be the brass band in front of the building!