[Article Content Provided by Burke Bischoff/Phil LaMancusa]

20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

12:04 September 13, 2017
By: Burke Bischoff, Phil LaMancusa, Debbie Lindsey & Andrew Alexander


20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

11. Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Located on Camp Street in the CBD, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is a local museum that primarily focuses on the culture and arts of the American South, as well as providing context towards a specific region’s history at different periods in time. Established in 2003, the Ogden Museum owes its inception to the more than 1,100 works donated by local businessman Roger H. Ogden. Associated with the University of New Orleans and affiliated with the Smithsonian, the museum collects more than 4,000 works from artists all over 15 different Southern states (as well as the District of Columbia). The museum contains many permanent galleries (as well as changing exhibits) and collects the works of famous local artists like Walter Inglis Anderson, Clementine Hunter, George Rodrigue, and Ida Kohlmeyer. Not limiting itself to just visual art, however, the Ogden Museum also has been able to offer many programs designed to increase awareness of different fields of entertainment. The Ogden After Hours allows Southern musicians to perform their songs; Southern Storytellers showcases readings and book signings for Southern writers; and the museum also offers art summer camps and Southern film screenings. Since 2003, the Ogden has been able to expand itself with the inclusion of the Center for Southern Craft and Design, the Patrick F. Taylor Library, and the Clementine Hunter Education Wing. -Burke Bischoff


20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

12. Hollywood South

Hollywood, California, is considered by pop culture to be the golden city for movies and television shows. It wasn’t until recently that movie crews started flocking en masse to film in New Orleans, thus making the city “Hollywood South.” The city is no stranger to the magic of Hollywood, with some of the earliest movies filmed in New Orleans including 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire and Elvis Presley’s 1958 film King Creole. However, moviemakers recently started really utilizing New Orleans because they were able to receive 30 percent tax breaks from the state of Louisiana, thus making it very cheap to film here. Some of the most famous movies filmed in or near New Orleans from 2008 to 2015 include The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Expendables, 21 Jump Street, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, and Jurassic World. On July 2015, however, Louisiana lawmakers decided to cut down on the amount for tax incentives, causing moviemakers to look to other cheap states like Georgia and Kentucky. While “Hollywood South” as a whole hangs on those film tax incentives, Louisiana and New Orleans have still been able to bring in production people of all types and have been used for popular movies like 2017’s Logan and television shows like 2016’s Preacher. -Burke Bischoff 

20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

13. Smoke-Free New Orleans

In 2007, a smoking ban was enacted, covering just about all of New Orleans’s public indoor spaces, including restaurants. Eating establishments were finally done with the cat-and-mouse game of “Want a non-smoking section?” “Sure, just let me take this ashtray off the table and put it on the table next to you.” Of course, some eateries provided better spacing and more thoughtful petitions to appease both smoker and purist. Now, your bars and casinos faced a more abrupt change with the 2015 complete ban. There was gnashing of teeth, threats of secession, and the impending end of the civilized world and its economy should smokers be forced to smoke outdoors. Well, the city of New Orleans seems to have weathered this set-back. While Harrah’s claims a strong financial hit due to the ban, even they seem to be diligently working to reinvent themselves with additional money-generating ideas (more dining and entertainment options) that do not require a cigarette clenched between nervous teeth while playing blackjack. Bars had good reason to fear a backlash from smokers, and perhaps there was a drop in revenue at first. However, we New Orleanians love our bars and the camaraderie they provide, and no cigarette or cigar will come between our bartenders and us! So, as it stands, cigarette devotees are free to enjoy their smokes, and that is their right, just as non-smokers can now truly be non-smokers with the removal of second-hand smoke. -Debbie Lindsey


20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

14. Saints Super Bowl XLIV Victory

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, it signaled the start of a rebuild for an entire city, including its football team. A nomadic franchise post-Katrina, the Saints played home games in three different stadiums, en route to a 3-13 season. Fast forward one season, and in 2006, the Saints, led by new head coach Sean Payton and new quarterback Drew Brees, reached the franchise’s first NFC Championship game. The duo’s inaugural season marked a rebirth for a long dormant team and provided a glimmer of hope for a city struggling to rebuild. In 2009, the Saints’ 43rd season in existence, Payton and Brees (and a slew of other heroic players) led the team to the zenith of professional football, winning Super Bowl XLIV with a score of 31-17 over the Indianapolis Colts and native New Orleanian Peyton Manning. The victory marked another key milestone in the revitalization of a once downtrodden city. The former ‘Aints, perennial cellar-dwellers, were finally champions, and the party in New Orleans could not have been sweeter. Jubilation rang throughout the city as Saints fans danced through the streets in celebration. Skin color, religious affiliation, and social status flew out the window as people embraced strangers and rejoiced until the wee hours of the morning. Often times football is merely a game, digested for the weekly entertainment of the masses, but that night in Miami, when the Saints hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, New Orleans became unified behind the Black and Gold. -Andrew Alexander

20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

15. NBA returns to NOLA

The National Basketball Association initially expanded to New Orleans in 1974 with the addition of the New Orleans Jazz. Despite the presence of superstar Pete Maravich, the organization lasted half a decade in the Big Easy before relocating to Salt Lake City, Utah. Over 20 years later, the Association returned to New Orleans when the Charlotte Hornets moved to the Crescent City. The acquisition of the Hornets vaulted New Orleans into a new stratosphere of sports towns with another professional sports franchise to complement the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. Like many residents and businesses, the Hornets were uprooted following Hurricane Katrina, forcing the franchise to play a majority of its games in Oklahoma City for two seasons. After Saints owner Tom Benson purchased the team in 2012, he rebranded the franchise as the New Orleans Pelicans, beginning in the 2013-2014 season. During the 15-year run in the Crescent City, the franchise has made the playoffs six times, advancing past the first round in 2008. Despite inconsistent postseason success, the organization drafted two franchise cornerstones—Chris Paul (2005) and Anthony Davis (2012)—with both players becoming NBA superstars. As the city continues to embrace the professional basketball franchise, a generation of fans has been raised with a team to call its own. With Davis, one of the best young NBA talents, leading the Pelicans, the future is bright for the former expansion team. -Andrew Alexander

20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

16. The Dissolution & Reformation of the New Orleans Catholic League

The New Orleans Catholic League is synonymous with prep athletics in the Crescent City. For decades, the likes of Jesuit, Brother Martin, Rummel, Holy Cross, Archbishop Shaw, De La Salle, and St. Augustine battled on the gridiron for city supremacy. After Hurricane Katrina, enrollment declined at Shaw and St. Augustine, leaving the Catholic League with only three area schools to compete. Rummel, Brother Martin, and Jesuit joined a newly formed Class 5A district with area public schools, and the era of the Catholic League seemed to be a fading memory. However, after two seasons sans Catholic League, in 2012, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association approved a new proposal to allow schools to play up in classification. As a result, Holy Cross, St. Augustine, and Shaw, previously resigned to Class 4A, moved up a classification to reform the Catholic League. Since that time, local powerhouse John Curtis has been added to the ranks. For now, the league responsible for producing prep legends like John Fourcade and Leonard Fournette remains intact, allowing Blue Jays, Raiders, Purple Knights, Crusaders, and all the other competitors to keep battling under the Friday night lights. -Andrew Alexander

20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

17. Drew Brees

In the midst of their city’s darkest hour, the New Orleans Saints threw a Hail Mary of their own. After a dismal post-Katrina 3-13 season, the franchise sought a new direction. The Saints hired a new head coach, Sean Payton, and took a chance on a short quarterback coming off surgery on his throwing shoulder. The Saints’ gamble paid off, as Drew Brees blossomed into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL during his 11 years (and counting) in New Orleans. In his first season, the six-foot quarterback led the upstart Saints to the franchise’s first NFC title game. Three seasons later, Brees and the Saints hoisted the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl champions. During his time in New Orleans, Brees has transcended sports, becoming more than just the face of a professional football franchise. He became a beacon of hope and a symbol of recovery for a demoralized city. While passing for countless touchdowns and five 5000-plus-yard seasons, Brees has immortalized himself as the greatest player in franchise history. His offensive prowess on the field is equally matched by his statesmanship off the field, serving as a positive ambassador for one of America’s greatest cities. Brees may be No. 9 in our game programs, but the Austin, Texas, native will always be No. 1 in the hearts of every New Orleanian. -Andrew Alexander

20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

18. Tom Benson

There is no single individual more instrumental to the success of New Orleans professional sports than Tom Benson. The patron Saint of the “Benson Boogie” has owned the New Orleans Saints over 30 years and the New Orleans Pelicans for the last five years. After drawing the ire of many New Orleans residents and public officials for his attempts to relocate the Saints to San Antonio following Hurricane Katrina, the godfather of New Orleans sports renewed his dedication to the revitalization of the Crescent City over the past decade. Aside from keeping the Saints in New Orleans and his purchase of the city’s NBA franchise, Benson lent his fortune to helping the city rebuild. Benson purchased the local Fox network affiliate WVUE in 2008, brought the Arena Football League to the Crescent City with the New Orleans VooDoo, and recently bought the majority stake in Dixie Brewing Company with the intent to return the iconic brewery’s operations to its original home. He’s donated millions of dollars to local universities and even tried to purchase The Times-Picayune when the paper was floundering. Hate him or love him, Benson’s commitment to investing in New Orleans has helped breathe new life into the city that we all love. -Andrew Alexander

20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

19. Anthony Davis

The fate of the New Orleans Pelicans rests upon one unibrow. That unibrow rests atop the eyes of Anthony Davis, the most talented basketball player to grace the courts of New Orleans since Pete Maravich dazzled spectators with the Jazz in the 1970s. Before being drafted No. 1 overall by the then-Hornets in 2012, Davis led the Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship (in New Orleans) during his lone season in Lexington. For an organization hoping to replace franchise cornerstone Chris Paul, Davis was a godsend for a franchise searching for identity and star power. Since arriving in New Orleans, “The Brow,” as he’s affectionately known, has rejuvenated Big Easy basketball, giving hope to a dormant franchise and sparking the interest of a largely apathetic basketball fan base. Davis has developed into not only the face of the Pelicans, but also one of the rising stars in the NBA. With defensive tenacity and a diverse offensive arsenal, Davis already has accumulated four NBA All-Star and two All-NBA first team selections. With an oftentimes abysmal supporting cast, Davis has compiled mind-boggling numbers, while leading the Pelicans to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in the post-Chris Paul era. While the team continues to struggle under poor front office management, Davis is the brightest star, giving New Orleans basketball fans hope for a successful future. -Andrew Alexander


20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 2

20. Hurricane Katrina

Starting on August 29, 2005, the city we knew as New Orleans changed forever. On this date, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States. It is inherently difficult to write about Katrina since, even 12 years later, people are still recovering or feeling the effects of the storm. Part of the tragedy is that the damage from the storm itself might not have been as cataclysmic as it was if New Orleans’s levee and floodwalls, built by the Army Corps of Engineers, didn’t breach in over 50 places, leaving around 80 percent of New Orleans, including the Lower Ninth Ward, most of Plaquemines Parish, Saint Bernard Parish, and many other areas, underwater. Because those levees failed to hold off the storm surge, Katrina became not only one of the deadliest hurricanes the U.S. has ever seen, with the death toll estimated to be somewhere around 1,400 (if not even more), but also the costliest hurricane in American history with around $108 billion in damages. Even after Katrina had long since passed over the city like a plague, New Orleans had to deal with a difficult aftermath and recovery, which many media outlets only hampered by exaggerating (or even fabricating) the amount of crimes and looting taking place in the city, thereby creating a sense of paranoia that greatly impeded rescue efforts. However, despite all of this tragedy, New Orleans got back up. New Orleans rebuilt. New Orleans is still here because of the sheer resilience of her people. -Burke Bischoff 

Be sure to check out 20 Stories From the Past 20 Years: Part 1 if you missed it!

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