THE ICON: Andrew Higgins
THE LEGACY: To Dwight Eisenhower, he was “the man who won the war for us.” To Adolf Hitler, he was “the new Noah.” But back home in New Orleans, Andrew Higgins was the man who put much of the city to work — men, women; black, white; able-bodied or physically challenged — as part of a wartime effort that blended innovation, aspiration, audacity and a keen sense of how to motivate his workforce. Although the local factories owned by the colorful and charismatic Higgins cranked out a number of products, from airplanes to ammunition to top-secret components for the Manhattan Project, it was Higgins’ namesake landing craft — which made it possible for Allied forces to flood the beaches of Normandy with servicemen — that serve as the backbone of his legacy.
THE ARTIST: Alexandra Kilburn
THE INSPIRATION: “To put Higgins’s accomplishment in perspective, consider this: By September 1943, 12,964 of the American Navy’s 14,072 vessels had been designed by Higgins Industries. Put another way, 92 percent of the U.S. Navy was a Higgins navy.” — historian Douglas Brinkley, in a 2000 article for American Heritage magazine