Images of the Month Gallery

December is a month of celebrations--Hanukka, Kwanza, Christmas--when New Orleans lights itself up and good cheer and good will prevail. This month we bring you images of the city in this celabratory mood. And now that Winter is truly here, we also recall several of the rare occasions when snow fell in the Crescent City--the great snowfall of 1895 and the record-breaking snowstorm of December 31, 1963, when we almost had a white Christmas.

This "official" Christmas card sent out to New Orleans' citizens and friends by Mayor Chep Morrison and the City Council shows Gallier Hall decorated for the season. The date is ca. 1954-1956.
[City Archives, "Official Vertical File"]

Santa Claus visits young residents of the the Florida Ave. Housing Project, 1954.
[Municipal Government Collection]

Canal Street decked out for Christmas in the mid-1960s.
[General Interest Collection]

Mayor and Mrs. Victor H. Schiro pose with Santa Claus, 1966. Sadly, "Sunny" Schiro died in November of this year. Mayor Schiro died in 1992.
[Municipal Government Collection]

It has been quite a few years since the Crescent City has seen snow, and, as far as we know, the city has never seen a white Christmas (though we once had snow at Mardi Gras). In fact, snow is such a rare occurance in New Orleans that a few flakes turn the city's residents, en masse, into excited children and shut down almost all normal business. Here's what the Times-Picayune said in 1895 about the city's reaction to the phenomenal snowstorm of Valentine's Day, 1895; today, the language would probably be a bit less flowery, but the description would be no less accurate.

Such a snow is about as uncommon in New Orleans as orange blossoms at a wedding on a fishing smack in Hudson Bay. If coconuts should fall from fir trees in the Northern zone, or sugar cane sprout from glaciers; if roses should bloom about the door of the hut of the Escquimaux, or the seal and the walrus should fight a match to the finish with a Barataria oysterman, the surprise would be but very little greater than the astonishment of the people to see a snowfall of 8 inches.

This often-reproduced postcard shows Canal Street after the snow storm of 1895, referred to above. The storm turned the city into a giant playground and brought streetcars to a halt all over town.
[Louisiana Postcard Collection]

On December 31, 1963, New Orleans saw another great snowstorm, which broke the records set in 1895 and gave us a white New Year's Eve, if not quite a white Christmas. Pictured here in a Times-Picayune photograph is Tulane Stadium--the old "Sugar Bowl"-- covered in a different kind of white stuff.
[General Interest Collection]

The 1963 New Year's Eve snow caused the shutdown of the Fair Grounds Race Track (celebrating its 125th anniversary this year), but Times-Picayune photographer P.H. Guarisco caught the ponies running through the flakes earlier in the day.
[General Interest Collection]

Season's Greetings from the New Orleans Public Library!

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