WHOEVER has been to New Orleans with eyes not totally abandoned to buying and selling will, of course, remember St. Louis Cathedral, looking south-eastward — riverward — across quaint Jackson Square, the old Place d'Armes. And if he has any feeling for flowers, he has not forgotten the little garden behind the cathedral, so antique and unexpected, named for the beloved old priest Père Antoine.
THE old Rue Royale lies across the sleeping gardens foot. On the street's farther side another street lets away at right angles, north-westward, straight, and imperceptibly downward from the cathedral and garden toward the rear of the city. It is lined mostly with humble ground-floor-and-garret houses of stuccoed brick, their wooden doorsteps on the brick sidewalks. This is Orleans street, so named when the city was founded. Its' rugged round-stone pavement is at times nearly as sunny and silent as the landward side of a coral reef. Thus for about half a mile; and then Rampart street, where the palisade wall of the town used to run in Spanish days, crosses it, and a public square just beyond draws a grateful canopy of oak and sycamore boughs. That is the place. One may shut his buff umbrella there, wipe the beading sweat from the brow, and fan himself with his hat. Manys the bull-fight has taken place on that spot Sunday afternoons of the old time.
THAT IS CONGO SQUARE
New Orleans' Congo Square is located between St. Ann and St. Peter Streets, with Rampart Street as its face and the Morris F. X. Jeff Municipal Auditorium as its rear. It is nested in a corner of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Complex, a 31–acre plot that received its name in honor of the native jazz musician. Beginning in the 18th Century, people of African descent, enslaved and free, gathered in this vicinity on Sunday Afternoons during which time they sang and danced according to their traditions, practiced their religious beliefs, played musical instruments resembling those in their homeland, and participated in a thriving economy.
Africans and their descendants – including Bambara, Wolof, Mandingo, Kongo, Mina, Kanga, Edo, Chamba, Fon,, Ngo, Arada, Ibo and others gathered there off and on by the hundreds for well over a century.
In 1817, a city ordinance established Congo Square as their only gathering place until the 1840s (when their gatherings were banned by the Americans).