City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

New Orleans (La.). Dept. of Public Property.
Records, 1912 (1925-1929) 1947
3 cu. ft.

The city charter of 1912 (Act #159 of the 1912 Louisiana Legislature) established a Commission Council form of government for New Orleans. It provided for five Commissioners, each of whom was given specific administrative responsibilities in addition to his legislative duties. The Commissioner of the Department of Public Property was responsible for streets & alleys, parks & playgrounds, public buildings, public baths, and all other public property.

The new Department assumed the tasks formerly assigned to the Department of Public Works, the Department of Police & Public Buildings, and the City Engineer. Public Works continued to function as the Division of Public Works and Police and Public Buildings became the Division of Public Buildings. The City Engineer also continued his activities within the new Department though under the same name. More detailed data on the activities of the Department and its constituent elements can be found in the annual financial reports issued by the Commissioner of Public Finances.

In 1948 (act #234) the Legislature increased the number of Commission Council members to eight. The act replaced the Department of Public Property with four new agencies: Department of Public Streets, Department of Public Sanitation, Department of Public Buildings & Parks, and Department of Institutions & Public Health. This change went into effect in 1950.

The surviving records of the Commissioner's Office in the Department of Public Property are limited to a single register book and a series of correspondence/subject files. Records of the Division of Public Buildings, the Division of Public Works, and the City Engineer's Office are described separately.

The register records documents received by the Commission and referred to the Commissioner of Public Property for action. Documents are listed by date of receipt and numerically under each date. Each document is described in some detail and is accompanied in most cases by a record of its disposition (e.g., forwarded favorably (date)). In some cases the dispositions are described in more detail.

The correspondence/subject files include files that survived intact as well as "fragments" that were recovered from the "Official Vertical File" portion of the City Archives collection. Most of the records are incoming letters to the Commissioner arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent (corporate or individual). Where only one or two items exist for a given correspondent, those items are filed in alphabetical miscellaneous folders. Intact subject files were kept together and an attempt was also made to reconstruct additional subject files using filing notes written on the documents.

The correspondence/subject files document most activities falling under the supervision of the Commissioner of Public Property. Among the more extensive files are those made up of letters and reports from the Public Buildings Division and the City Engineer, including annual (with monthly breakdowns) statistical reports of building permits issued in the city. Other city agencies that are particularly well represented include the City Attorney, the House of Detention, and the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School. The Board of Commissioners of the Orleans Levee District, on which body the Commissioner of Public Property sat ex-officio, is represented by several file folders, as is the New Orleans Association of Commerce.

Flood control is one subject area that is well documented by these records, both in general files and in files on individual agencies such as the Safe River Committee of 100 and the Chicago Flood Control Conference. On the great Mississippi River flood of 1927 there is some documentation of the Caernarvon Crevasse in St. Bernard Parish (including photographs of the explosion to create the break) and the relief effort on behalf of its victims.

Among other noteworthy files are the following:

  • the Community Chest file contains a pamphlet detailing the programs of the various agencies deriving benefits from the organization;

  • the New Orleans and Ouachita River Packet file includes communications from Capt. L.V. Cooley relative to the condition of the Mississippi River in the vicinity of Old River;

  • the St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery Association file contains a list of the owners of lots and vaults in at least a portion of Cemetery #2;

  • the files on Specifications/Estimates for Repairs to various Fire Department properties include blueprints and photographs of the several buildings;

  • the United States Public Health Service file includes a record of bubonic plague-infected rats captured in New Orleans during 1919-1920;

  • the Petitions--Xavier University file includes documentation relative to the institution's unsuccessful attempt to expand its original uptown campus into the vicinity of State and Tchoupitoulas Sts; and

  • the United States Community Improvement Appraisal for New Orleans, 1938 (see folder with that title) was conducted "to determine the value of the federal work relief program in New Orleans." Prepared by the Commission Council (with the lead role apparently taken by the Dept. of Public Property) for transmission to the Louisiana State Planning Commission, the survey lists and evaluates the projects undertaken by the city under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration. Another copy of this document in filed under call number KD202 1938 in the City Archives Document Collection.

A folder listing is attached as Appendix 1.

Although the records as a whole span almost the entire 1912-1950 period their bulk is concentrated between the years 1925 and 1929. The Commissioner whose work is most fully documented is thus John Klorer. Since the Commissioner also sat as a member of the Commission Council, additional documents relating to his activities are in the Official Proceedings and other records of that body.


Appendix

Correspondence/subject files of the Commissioner of Public Property, 1914 (1925-1929) 1947.

Inventory

Box 1

"A" miscellaneous
Algiers Public Service, Inc., 1927-1928
American Brick Company, Inc., 1928-1929
American Legion, 1922, 1928-1929
American Society for Municipal Improvements, 1919,1929
Anonymous
Arcadia Court, 1924
Arterial Plan for New Orleans, Report on, 1946
Audubon Park, 1927-1928

"B" miscellaneous
Bayou St. John, 1925-1928
Berthe Engineering Co., 1928-1929
Blanc Place Property Exchange, 1923
Bond Issues, 1928
Bridges, 1928
Broadmoor Civic Improvement Association, 1927-1928
Broussard, Senator Edwin S., 1929
Building Permits Issued for the Year (Reported by Month), 1915-1929
Bultman Mortuary Service, Inc., 1928
Bunny Friend Improvement Association, 1927-1928

"C" miscellaneous
Caernarvon Crevasse and Relief Effort, 1927-1928
Calendar Ordinances
Camp Street Improvement Association, 1927-1929
Canals, 1928
Carrollton Business Mens' Association, 1927-1929
Cemeteries, 1927 -1929
Charity Hospital, 1914, 1929
Chicago Flood Control Conference, 1927-1928
Circuses, 1927-1928
City Attorney
1918,1923
1924
1925-1928
1929-1932
City Electrician, 1922, 1926
City Engineer
1915-1926
1927
1928
1929-1936
Building Division, 1924-1929, 1933
Building Division--Report of Operations
1927
1928
Monthly Reports, 1928
City Owned Property, 1922, 1937, n.d.
City Park, Board of Park Commissioners, 1928
City Planning and Zoning Commission, 1923, 1926-1929
City Property Accountant, 1929
Civic League of the Seventeenth Ward, 1928, 1935
Clerk of Commission Council, 1929, 1932
Colored Civic League/Colored Business & Civic League, 1924, 1927 [see also Perkins, A.E.]
Committee on Transportation Facilities, 1917
Community Chest, 1927
Convent of the Holy Family, 1927, 1929
Country Club Gardens, 1925, 1928
Cromwell Place, 1923

"D" miscellaneous
Delgado Succession, 1929, 1931
District Attorney's Office, 1929
Drinking Troughs, 1928
Dryades Street Improvement Association, 1926-1927
Dryades Street Widening Project

"E" miscellaneous
Edgelake Lands, Inc., 1927, 1929

"F" miscellaneous
Fellman Tract, 1925-1929
Field Inspection and Job Survey, 1947
Fifth Ward Civic League, 1927
Fifth Ward Community Welfare Association, 1927-1928
Flood Control--General
1922-1929

Box 2

undated
Fourteenth Ward Civic League, 1927-1929
Fourth and Fifth Ward Civic Improvement Association, 1927-1929
French Opera Civic Commission, 1936

"G" miscellaneous
Garbage Incinerator/Garbage Collection, 1925, 1927-1928
Gentilly Garden and Terrace Improvement Association, 1927-1928

"H" miscellaneous
Hero Airport, 1927
Higgins Industries, 1929
House of Detention
1919, 1925-1928
1929
Housing, Advisory Committee (Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works), 1934

"I" miscellaneous
Inner Harbor Navigation, 1928
Intracoastal Canal Association of Louisiana and Texas, 1925, 1927-1928
Isaac Delgado Central Trades School
1925-1926
1927-1929

"J" miscellaneous
Jefferson Davis Parkway Civic Improvement Association, 1927-1928

"K" miscellaneous
Klorer, John--Personal, 1927, 1929

"L" miscellaneous
Lake Front Camps, 1929
Lake Front Development, 1928
Lakeview Property Owners' Alliance, 1927, 1929
Laresche, M.V. (Deputy Commissioner of Public Property--Charges Against), 1921
Lemle, Moreno, & Lemle, 1927-1928
Liberty Monument, 1929
Live Oak School, 1926, 1936
Loew's State Theater, 1929
Louisiana Commission for the Blind, 1928
Louisiana, Department of Health, 1926-1927
Louisiana Governor's Office, 1927
Louisiana Highway Commission, 1929, 1931
Louisiana Retreat, 1928
Louisiana State Fire Marshal, 1927
Louisiana Sugar and Rice Exchange, 1927
Louque Street Improvement Association, 1929

"M" miscellaneous
"Mc" miscellaneous
Markets, 1921-1929
Mattingly & Whilden, Inc., 1929
Mayor' Flood Policy Committee, 1927
Mayor's Office, 1927-1929, 1933
Methodist Episcopal Church, 1927
Miscellaneous
Mississippi River Commission, 1929
Mississippi River Flood Control Association, 1927-1929
Mississippi Valley Association, 1928-1929
Motor League of Louisiana, 1927, 1929
Mules, 1929
Municipal Auditorium/Municipal Auditorium Commission, 1927-1929
Municipal Boys' Home, 1927-1928, 1931
Municipal Repair Plant, 1928-1929

"N" miscellaneous
National Flood Prevention and River Regulation Commission, 1927-1928
National Rivers and Harbors Congress, 1927-1930, 1933-1936
New Basin Canal and Shell Road, 1922
New Orleans and Ouachita River Packet, 1928
New Orleans Association of Commerce
1921-1927
1928-1929
Anti-Gambling Committee, 1928
New Orleans Board of Trade, 1928
New Orleans Citizens' Flood Relief Committee, 1927 [see also Caernarvon Crevasse and Relief Effort, 1927-1928]
New Orleans City Park Improvement Association, 1929
New Orleans Civic Council, 1928-1929
New Orleans Convention and Publicity Bureau, 1927-1928
New Orleans Cotton Exchange, 1928
New Orleans Federation of Clubs, 1927-1928
New Orleans Fire Department, 1923, 1927 [see also Specifications/Estimates, Repairs to ...]
New Orleans Joint Traffic Bureau, 1927
New Orleans Permanent International Trade Exhibition, 1928
New Orleans Police Department, 1916, 1924, 1927-1929
New Orleans Pontchartrain Bridge Co., 1928
New Orleans Public Library, 1930-1931
New Orleans Public Service, Inc., 1927-1929
New Orleans Real Estate Board, 1927-1929
Ninth Ward Improvement and Protective Association, 1927, 1929
Norway, Consulate, 1928

"O" miscellaneous
O'Connor, Congressman James, 1927
Orleans Levee District, Board of Commissioners
1922-1926
1927 (January-July)
1927 (August-September)
1927 (October-December)
1928 (February-July)
1928 (August-December)

Box 3

1929
Minutes, 1928

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff, 1935
Orleans Parish School Board, 1916, 1926-1927

"P" miscellaneous
Parker, Walter, 1926-1927
Paving Laws, Proposed Legislation to Change, 1914
Paving Protests, 1931
Perkins, A.E., 1925-1926
Petitions
General [4 folders]
Lautenschlager Market, 1937
Xavier University, 1928
Pigeons, 1928-1929
Playground Community Service Commission, 1925-1929, 1941
Pohlmann, Henry, 1928
Pontchartrain Improvement Association, 1926, 1928
Port of New Orleans, Board of Commissioners, 1927, 1929
Public Bath Commission, 1926-1927
Public Buildings Division
Cemetery Titles, 1928-1930
Construction/Maintenance Reports
1925 (September-December)-1926 (January-June)
1926 (July-December)-1927 (May)
1927 (July-December)
1928, 1947, undated
General, 1925-1929
Statements of Accounts, 1926-1929
Public Finance, Department of, 1932
Public Playgrounds, Board of Commissioners, 1917
Public Comfort Stations, 1927
Public Safety, Department of, 1927-1928, 1932
Public Utilities, Department of, 1921-1929
Public Works, Division of, 1924-1933

"R" miscellaneous
Railroads, 1929
Real Estate owned by the City of New Orleans, Orleans Parish School Board, Sewerage & Water Board,
and the Public Belt Railroad Commission, 1929
Rear Protection Levee, 1927
Registrar of Voters, 1918
Rex (Carnival Organization), 1916-1927
Rucker Claim, 1928

"S" miscellaneous
Safe River Committee of 100, 1925-1927
St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery Association, 1933
Schools, 1929
Sewerage and Water Board, 1925-1929
Specifications/Estimates
General, 1928, undated
Repairs to Central Fire Station (317 Decatur), 1933
Repairs to Engine House #7 (929 Bienville), 1933
Repairs to Engine House #14 (1601 Tulane), 1933
Repairs to Hook & Ladder Co. #9 (231 S. Broad), 1933
Repairs to Hook & Ladder Co. #11 (339 N. Basin), 1933
Speeches, 1925, 1927-1928
Stevedores and Longshoremen's Benevolent Society, 1930
Street Lighting, 1929
Streetcars, 1929
Streets [filed alphabetically by street name and chronologically for each street]

"T" miscellaneous
Traffic Club of New Orleans, 1928
Traffic Investigation Committee, 1928
Travel Expenses, 1928-1929
Trucks, 1928

"U" miscellaneous
United States Community Improvement Appraisal in the City of New Orleans, 1938
United States Engineers, 1923, 1927-1929
United States Post Office, 1927-1929
United States Public Health Service, 1921

"V" miscellaneous
Vieux Carre Association, 1928

"W" miscellaneous
Whilden, Oscar R., 1928

Young Men's Business Club of New Orleans, 1928-1929

Zoning, 1928


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