|The New Orleans Cotton Exchange was established in 1871 by a group of cotton factors, at a time
when one third of the production of cotton in the U.S. was shipped through New Orleans. It was
done in answer to the opening of the New York Cotton Exchange in 1870, New Orleans merchants
being concerned that the New York Exchange would be more beneficial to buyers than sellers.
It began in rented offices at the corner of Gravier and Carondelet Streets. The Exchange soon
constructed its own building nearby, but quickly outgrew it. In 1883, on another corner of Gravier
and Carondelet, the Cotton Exchange built a much larger and more extravagant building that
would become known for its grand exterior and opulent interior; also, for its abundant scuptural
embellishments, especially, the group of allegorical figures crowning the entrance (Agriculture,
Commerce and Industry - though New Orleanians, for reasons lost to the ages,
more often referred to Commerce as Peace). These somewhat controversial sculptures
were the work of A. Goddard, a Chicago-based sculptor.
In 1921, the landmark structure was demolished and a new, less palatial and more
modern building took its place.
The Cotton Exchange closed its doors in 1964.
|Trading floor of the Cotton Exchange, 1920's
|Weiblen Marble and Granite Works features
two of the Cotton Exchange sculptures - but
not Agriculture, Commerce or Industry.
|While the old Cotton Exchange was being demolished, the building's famous carvings, including
its crowning glories - Agriculture, Commerce and Industry - sat forlornly on the sidewalk amid
the rubble. The sculptures were huge and no one could decide exactly what to do with them.
Eventually, City Park was chosen as a temporary storage spot while their fate was decided.
This took quite awhile. Finally, in the late 1930's, when work was about to begin on WPA City
Park improvements, some of the sculptures were moved to Weiblen Marble and Granite Works
on City Park Avenue. Two of these were added to that company's showroom exterior.
Agriculture, Commerce and Industry didn't fare so well. Commerce (aka Peace) was sent
to the quarry to be broken and used for slabs and vases. Agriculture and Industry were, also,
destroyed, but, instead of vases, they were used as fill under the roads in Metairie Cemetery.
A sad fall from very lofty heights.
|The third Cotton Exchange building. This structure was placed on the National Register
of Historic Places in 1977, and has been named a National Historic Landmark. The
building underwent extensive renovation in 2006 and now houses a hotel.
|The Cotton Exchange Hotel
|The photo directly above is courtesy of Booked.net
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