THE ICON: Lester Kabacoff
THE LEGACY: The list of Lester Kabacoff’s accomplishments is a long one. He was a lawyer, a World War II veteran, a tennis champion, a real estate developer. One thing he was not, however, was a quitter. Over his six decades in New Orleans, “Kabby” — as he was familiarly known — built a reputation as a man who got things done, whether helping found the city’s first TV station, building new hotels or banging the drum for local tourism. Arguably his most lasting legacy came through his championing of the 1984 World’s Fair, which, by design, reconnected the city to the riverfront and transformed the neglected Warehouse District into a trendy hub for homes, restaurants, galleries and offices. The fair also brought construction of what would become the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, still a major magnet for visitors to the city and a project that cemented his reputation as the father of modern tourism in New Orleans.
THE ARTIST: Saegan Swanson
THE INSPIRATION: “Very few people that I know of have contributed more to this city than Lester Kabacoff, not only in terms of physical developments that he initiated and completed but also in terms of his contribution to the improvement of the government and many of the private institutions that make the city what it is.” — Former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu