St. Louis Hotel and the New Orleans Slave Trade
Prior to the completion of the Omni Hotel in the 1950s, this was the site of the St. Louis Hotel. During the antebellum period, the St. Louis Hotel was one of over fifty places where slaves were bought and sold.
Backstory and Context
The former hotel was one of over fifty places in the city of New Orleans where slaves were regularly bought and sold. Historians have documented the existence of these sites, yet as of November 2015, only one historic marker has been placed at any of these locations. Ironically, that marker, which is located across the street from the Omi Hotel at Maspero’s Restaurant, is incorrect. The sign claims that Maspero's Exchange was located across the street from the Omni Hotel when the slave exchange operated at the St. Louis Hotel.
There are numerous other sites throughout the city where the slave trade occurred. Some of these places are now home to public buildings while others, such as a slave pen located at Chartres Street and Esplanade Avenue, are the location of private homes. Historians are working to document the location of these slave pens and markets, but few city leaders have been willing to support the creation of historic markers.
Sale of Estates, Pictures and Slaves in the Rotunda, New Orleans; by William Henry Brooke, engraver; engraving with watercolor from The Slave States of America, vol. 1; London: Fisher and Son, 1842
Purchased Lives: New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade, 1808-1865. Museum exhibit curated by Erin Greenwald, March 17 – July 18, 2015, Historic New Orleans Collection.