Columns » Blake Pontchartrain: New Orleans Trivia

Blake Pontchartrain: Gilmore Park on Laurel Street

On one of Uptown’s “pocket parks”

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Hey Blake,

Gilmore Park is on Laurel Street on either side of State Street. Why is it there? Someone told me it was the site of a market. Can you help me solve this mystery?

Tom

Dear Tom,

  Gilmore Park is a "pocket park," a green space that's just the right size to be enjoyed by its neighborhood residents.

  Geographer Richard Campanella explains that the two tiny strips of land that make up the park are remnants of what once was the LeBreton plantation. A third of the plantation was sold and subdivided in 1836 and became an area called Bloomingdale. It was divided into quirky patterns and elongated blocks, Campanella explains in his book Time and Place in New Orleans. Those blocks line up with the borders for the plantation. "Odd angles and kinks in Laurel Street (for Gilmore Park) and Annunciation Street line up with the otherwise-erased upper and lower Bloomingdale lines," he writes. According to several sources, after the Civil War, the area was a public open-air market frequented by farmers. When the area became more residential, the market was phased out.

  In 1903, the park was named for Samuel L. Gilmore, a New Orleans native who at the time served as city attorney. In 1909, Gilmore was elected to Congress from Louisiana's 2nd District but served for less than a year. He died in July 1910. His daughter was Martha Gilmore Robinson, a force in New Orleans civic life and preservation efforts from the 1930s until her death in 1981. She was a founder of Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, the League of Women Voters and Louisiana Landmarks Society. In the 1960s she also was a vocal opponent of the proposed Vieux Carre Riverfront Expressway.

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