The story of New Orleans’ most well-known address: ‘1825 Tuu-lane’
In the late 1950s, advertising executive Bill Elliott was trying come up with a winning jingle for Rosenberg’s Furniture. He had the music down and headed home with a tape recorder to work on the lyrics, according to his wife, Barbara Elliott Wedemeyer, interviewed in the 2005 WYES documentary “Stay Tuned: New Orleans’ Classic TV Commercials.” That’s when the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, Betsy, announced she would help, crooning out in her sweet little voice the words that would become not only become New Orleans advertising legend but which would also make the address of Rosenberg’s the most well-known in the city: “Rosenberg’s, Rosenberg’s — 1825 Tulane.”
Rosenberg’s used the jingle on and off for decades before shutting its doors in the early 2000s. The three-story building on Tulane Avenue that housed the store has since been torn down, and the site is now home to a grassy field making up part of the University Medical Center campus.
- Rosenberg’s was founded in 1908 and for years branded itself as “the friendly store.” It was originally located in the 2100 block of Palmyra Street. After 13 years there, it moved to the Tulane Avenue address.
- Every bit as popular as the Rosenberg’s jingle was the cartoon girl dreamed up to accompany it once it took off. She was a doe-eyed moppet with a ribbon in her bobbed hair who was featured on the store’s TV commercials as well as on a billboard atop the building that read, “This is it! 1825 Tulane.” The character’s name? Betsy, of course.
- Simon Rosenberg, the former chairman of the board of the family-owned business, was known to check on the effectiveness of the ad by asking people if they knew where his store was. If they responded with the address, he rewarded them with $1.
- Some thought the jingle was cuter than others. “People kept coming in to the store and they’d say, ‘Where’s the little girl? We like the little girl, she’s so cute,’ or they’d say ‘She’s terrible!,'” Wedemeyer said in the WYES documentary. “But they liked it and they talked about it so we put her back on.”
- Once upon a time, Rosenberg’s print ads helped potential customers find the store by describing its location as “across the street from St. Joseph’s Church.” According to a 1961 story in The Times-Picayune, after the jingle hit it big, the pastor at St. Joseph’s eventually returned the favor, urging congregants to invite friends to the church, saying, “Tell them it’s in the 1800 block of Tulane — across the street from Rosenberg’s.”
- By the 1970s, to compete with suburban malls, Rosenberg’s was selling much more than furniture out of its three-story building. It also sold drapes, luggage, jewelry, air-conditioners, sewing machines, pool tables, carpeting, bicycles and appliances.
- Don’t confuse the Rosenberg’s jingle with that for Seafood City, which also sang that establishment’s similar address: 1826 North Broad.
If you lived in New Orleans for any amount of time in the second half of the 20th century, you know — and probably love — the Rosenberg’s jingle. As an illustration of its ubiquity, and its firmly entrenched place in the fabric of the city’s culture, none other than rapper Lil Wayne gave it a shout-out in his 2007 song “Seat Back Low,” which featured the line, “I am so, so New Orleans, like 1825 Tulane” — the address, naturally, being sung to the tune of the familiar commercials.