For more than 160 years, City Park has served as New Orleans’ backyard
In 1854, nine years after John McDonogh died and left the city a 100-acre plot of land that was originally the Jean Louis Allard plantation, the 4th District Court ruled that the property must be operated as a City Park.
City Park is a 1,300-acre recreational hub for the entire New Orleans area, featuring an art museum, botanical and sculpture gardens, an amusement park, 26 tennis courts, a golf course, biking jogging and walking paths and expansive green space populated by majestic oaks as old as 800 years.
- In 1890, dueling in City Park was outlawed, but the practice’s legacy lives on in the form of the dueling oak, under which many a quarrel was settled.
- The first City Park carousel, which began operation in 1897, was powered by mules.
- Bob Hope performed in City Park Stadium in 1944, 21 years before it was renamed for local youth sports advocate Tad Gormley.
- Perhaps the park’s most famous concert was on Sept. 16, 1964, when The Beatles played before a crowd of 12,000 screaming fans. After a performance by opening act Clarence “Frogman” Henry, the band’s 11-song set lasted a half hour.
- The park’s annual Celebration in the Oaks began in 1984 under a somewhat less catchy name: “A Tribute to the Christmas Tree.”
- City Park has provided the backdrop for a number of local movies in recent years, including “22 Jump Street,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” “R.E.D.,” “The Expendables” and “Jonah Hex.”
- In 1992, City Park’s Tad Gormley Stadium became the center of the nation’s track-and-field community when it hosted the U.S. Olympic Trials. Among the notable athletes taking part were Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and the decathlon duo of Dan O’Brien and Dave Johnson, whose matchup was (over)hyped in a series of Reebok ads.
It is virtually impossible to have lived in the New Orleans area for any length of time without having some lasting memory of City Park. The sheer number of engagement, debutante and family photos taken under its oaks connect it to more New Orleanians than perhaps any other single location in the metro area.