Government & Politics

Because "prestidigitation" was too long

By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer

Which of these is the newest street name  in the 70112 ZIP code?

  • Alost Street
  • Breedlove Street
  • Protection Street
  • Madame Tranchepain Street
  • Magic Street
  • Voltaire Street

Magic Street was chosen during a 2006 weeklong planning charrette held in October 2006. The charrette was part of the planning process for rebuilding  the Lafitte public housing complex, and the name was chosen by a group of children from the development.

A recently posted sign marks the street, which runs through the redeveloped Lafitte between North Rocheblave and North Galvez streets.

The other names above came from the New Orleans Public Library. The list, which is available online, has been transcribed from a typewritten volume titled ”Alphabetical Index of Changes in Street Names, Old and New Period 1852 to Current Date, Dec. 1st 1938” compiled by Gray B. Amos as part of a Works Progress Administration project.

One of the more interesting names, Madame Tranchepain translates from French as “Mrs. Slice of Bread,” but it would seem that the street’s name was less about celebrating bread and more to memorialize a remarkable New Orleans resident.

Marie de Tranchepain de Saint Augustine died in New Orleans in 1733. She had emigrated here from France she was responsible for building  Ursuline Academy. She also managed an orphan asylum, a school for the poor and a hospital.

The Ursuline Academy still stands; too bad her name has receded from memory.

As for the other names:

Alost Street is a tiny one block long street in eastern New Orleans.

Breedlove Street was a one block long street between College Court and State Street Drive. A map on the city assesor’s website shows that while the street no longer exists, the name still does as a mark through a few back yards.

Protection Street was changed to Monticello Avenue in 1911.

Madame Tranchepain Street was created in 1924 by renaming a portion of Barracks Street, from Taylor Street to Lake Pontchartrain. It couldn’t be easily determined when the good  madame lost her street name.

Voltaire Street is “out of duration,” according to the document referenced.

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • We’d love to see a street named Mxyzptlk St.

  • Fun article! That list of Street Name Changes happens to be one of my all-time fave reference materials.
    FYI, Breedlove had houses on it until the 1990’s, when dereliction and fire claimed the last properties. The City still owns Breedlove, though S&WB has trouble finding it when called out to address several persistent water leaks which have caused a small lake to form there.
    A few yards away from Breedlove lies Dart St., formerly D’Artaguette (I can see why they shortened the name), and Walmsley (formerly Apricot, formerly 12th St.).
    Thanks for sharing the joy of this topic and bringing light to “Magic”, and for pointing your lucky readers to some fun resources. Here’s another that many will appreciate:

    “Photos Arranged by Street Name” from the City Archives

    – TimG

  • Karen Gadbois

    Thanks Tim.

    I am pretty sure that Apricot was 17th. It’s my street!