City Park Trees, palm and oak, near the McFadden house.
City Park Trees
Palm and oak trees in front of the original house that later became the McFadden mansion. It’s now part of City Park New Orleans. The Library of Congress (LOC) dates this photo as circa 1910. That fits, as construction on the house finished in 1909. While the oak tree clearly predates the house, the palm tree is part of the landscaping project.
Francisco Hery first farmed the land that is now City Park in 1723. Louis Allard, born in 1777, acquired the land, growing sugar cane and corn. Allard failed to pay city taxes. The city seized the plantation. John McDonogh bought the land at auction. When McDonogh died in 1850, he willed the plantation back to the city. City Hall converted the farm into public green space. They formalized this in 1870, officially creating City Park.
City Park began as a much smaller area than it is now. So, local businessman Fred Bertrand purchased four acres of land just north of the park. He built the four-bedroom house seen here. William Harding McFadden, a Texas oilman, purchased the house in 1919. McFadden enlarged the original house, converting it into the mansion we know now.
Palm trees in New Orleans
The palm tree planted in front of Bertrand’s home makes me at once happy and sad. Happy because I love palms. Sad because so many of these palms don’t survive winters in New Orleans. Over the 20th century, the city undertook “beautification projects,” re-paving major streets and adding plants and trees. Unfortunately, the palm trees rarely had a chance. Within a few years of the projects, winter brought a cold snap with a hard freeze. Those low temperatures killed the palms.
We keep trying, though. Maybe it’s a desire to match the palms in Los Angeles. Maybe we just like them. Either way, we bring them down, plant them, and watch them freeze. sigh.