Bourbon Street, 1944-1952
DescriptionThe Southeastern Architectural Archive, Tulane University Libraries, is home to the Walter Cook Keenan New Orleans Photographs Collection numbering over 3,000 images. Walter Cook Keenan (1881-1970), the first architect of the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC) and a lifelong member of the Audubon Park Commission, took the photographs in order to document changes to the built environment. In 2013, the Tulane Digital Library undertook to digitize the portion of the collection focused on historic Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Street underwent significant changes during the mid-twentieth century. Beginning in 1944, the VCC increasingly sought to regulate the appearance of building facades, especially by limiting signage and prohibiting the use of neon. As VCC architect, Keenan conducted daily property inspections to document Vieux Carré Ordinance violations. Entertainment businesses along Bourbon Street were notably affected by the ordinance and Keenan recorded nearly every property along the artery more than once. Bourbon Street's night clubs, jazz musicians, burlesque shows, restaurants and boarding houses became his photographic subjects. The collection includes images of Sloppy Joe's, Lenny Gale's Sugar Bowl, the Old Barn Bar, Zonia's Cocktail Lounge, Ciro's, the Magic Lock, the Famous Door, 418 Bar, Dixie's Bar of Music, and Stormy's Casino Royale. Signs for burlesque dancers Evangeline, Bubbles, Kalantan, Pam Holloway, and Stormy's Mother also feature prominently.