This monument, which stands in a little triangle-shaped park in the French Quarter, commemorates the founder of New Orleans, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (he was also known as Sieur de Bienville). Bienville was born in Montreal in 1680 and became a colonizer and explorer. He explored the Gulf Coast where he eventually discovered what he deemed a suitable place for a new settlement that would become New Orleans. He received permission to establish the settlement and founded it on May 7, 1718. Bienville served as governor of Louisiana four times between 1701-1743. The monument was cast by Angela Gregory in 1955 and was originally located at the New Orleans Union railroad station; it was moved here in 1996.
Backstory and Context
Bienville wrote to the Directors of the Company in 1717 that he had discovered a crescent bend in the Mississippi River which he felt was safe from tidal surges and hurricanes and proposed that the new capital of the colony be built there. Permission was granted, and Bienville founded New Orleans on May 7, 1718. By 1719, a sufficient number of huts and storage houses had been built that Bienville began moving supplies and troops from Mobile. Following disagreements with the chief engineer of the colony, Le Blond de la Tour, Bienville ordered an assistant engineer, Adrien de Pauger, to draw up plans for the new city in 1720. In 1721, Pauger drew up the eleven-by-seven block rectangle now known as the French Quarter or the Vieux Carré. After moving into his new home on the site of what is now the Custom House, Bienville named the new city "La Nouvelle-Orléans" in honor of Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, the Prince Regent of France. New Orleans became the capital of French Louisiana by 1723, during Bienville's third term.
n 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718–1720), Bienville had moved the capital of French Louisiana from Mobile near the battlefront with Spanish Pensacola back to Fort Maurepas (Old Biloxi). However, due to shifting sand bars, the settlement was moved across Biloxi Bay to found New Biloxi (or Nouvelle-Biloxi or "Bilocci"), in 1719. After the move, Fort Maurepas was burned (in the French custom to avoid resettlement by enemy forces). Also during 1719, the under-construction New Orleans had been entirely flooded (6 inches or higher), with the realization that higher ground or levees would be needed for the inland port of that Crescent City. The governing council wanted to keep the capital on the Gulf of Mexico at Biloxi. However, the sandy soil around Biloxi complicated agriculture, and storms also shifted sands into Biloxi harbor, while the New Orleans site could be considered a deepwater port, closer to agricultural lands. Eventually, in June 1722, Bienville began moving the capital to New Orleans, completing the move in August 1722. The year 1723 was the first full year with New Orleans as capital of French Louisiana.
Angela Gregory (October 18, 1903 – February 13, 1990) was an American sculptor and professor of art. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gregory has been called the doyenne of Louisiana sculpture. Her mother, Selina Bres Gregory, was an artist who studied at Newcomb College in New Orleans with William Woodward and Ellsworth Woodward. Her father, William B. Gregory, was an engineering professor at Tulane University. Angela was interested in art from an early age and began her career in the late 1920s. She became one of the few women of her era to be recognized nationally in a field generally dominated by men.
In the 1950s, she devoted five years to the creation and casting of the bronze Bienville Monument, which stood outside the New Orleans train station on Loyola Avenue for many years. The monument portrays the first French governor and founder of New Orleans, a priest, and an Indian. Gregory spent two years in France supervising the casting of the monument.
"Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville." Wikipedia. Accessed December 19, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste_Le_Moyne,_Sieur_de_Bienville.