New Orleans - CBD: Lafayette Square - McDonogh Monument
The McDonogh Monument, located along the St. Charles Avenue side of Lafayette Square, was dedicated in 1898 to John McDonogh from the Public School Children of New Orleans. John McDonogh (1779-1850), an eccentric and reclusive merchant was most famous for the public endowment he left upon his death to create public schools for the "education of the poor of all castes and races" in his native city of Baltimore and his adopted city of New Orleans. His heirs contested his will all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, delaying its execution for 8 years, upon which New Orleans received $704,440. The money was used to expand the New Orleans public school system, which had been established in 1841, with the construction of more than thirty additional schools.
Lafayette Square, bound by St. Charles Avenue, Camp Street and Maestri Street, was founded in 1788 for the City's first suburb, Faubourg Ste. Marie, making it the second oldest park in New Orleans. Originally called "place publique", the square was renamed after Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat and general who fought on the American side in the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette declined the invitation to become the first Governor when the United purchased Lousiana, but his popularity was evident when he visited New Orleans from April 9-15, 1825 to cheers of "Vive Lafayette!"
In the early 20th Century, three bronze statues were placed along the East/West axis of the square. In addition to the statue McDonogh Monument, a statues of Henry Clay was relocated to the center of the square and a statue of Benjamin Franklin was placed on Camp Street. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to many of the trees, and broken glass and debris scattered from nearby buildings made Lafayette Square unsafe. A group of neighborhood residents and downtown workers formed the non-profit Lafayette Square Conservancy (LSC), to renovate, improve and preserve the space.