Cityscapes: Richard Campanella On A 7th Ward Puzzle

Apr 10, 2015

Each month we talk with Richard Campanella about his Cityscapes column for and The Times-Picayune. This month the Professor of Geography at the Tulane School of Architecture delves into a bizarre street pattern that pops up in the 7th Ward.

Seen from above, he says, this particular parcel of land and the way its streets intersect looks like the floor of a messy tailor's shop, scraps and remnants rather than any type of clear-cut pattern.

"Things at odd angles tell interesting stories," Campanella notes. And this oddity owes its layout to the city's original division as plantation land, partitioned into long, thin pieces. Those were later subdivided to create grids. This zigzag in the 7th Ward sits in a place where several grids had to meet.

It was laid out at a particular moment in time, then the bequest of a landowner froze it in that moment, while the rest of the city moved forward with development. So credit the oddity, in large part, to an eccentric busybody from Kentucky with a penchant for public life and a fascination with hot pepper sauce. The result? A relic of a cityscape we can still see today.