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A "Muse" ing New Orleans Street Names

Unique Nola isn’t just our brand name, it reflects the idea that there is literally nowhere like New Orleans. Even our street names have a flair to them. Some seem to defy pronunciation. The Garden District and the bordering Lower Garden District has some street names that make people even wonder what they are referring to

A little while back we talked about how Greek Revival was a very popular style of architecture. The founding fathers considered the ancient Greeks to be a noble society because they invented democracy. It was considered very patriotic American to flash a Greek Revival building. That’s why Washington DC is filled with style. And so are the nicer neighborhoods in New Orleans. In fact by the time the Civil War began, we had more Greek buildings than ancient Athens!

Mikko Macchione

Tour Guide with Unique NOLA Tours and Author of books about New Orleans.

New Orleans Rum: A Decadent History

So just downriver from the Garden District there were plans to build a Greek style neighborhood with an arena, a school, a racetrack, a military depot and other things. Today you will notice Coliseum Street, Camp Street and Prytania Street. What’s a Prytania? It is an ancient Greek-based type of high school. These are the streets that were to border the corresponding project. Magazine Street, one edge of the Garden District, comes from the French word for ‘store,’ as in a military store of supplies. There’s also Race Street. None of that stuff got built.

A charming set of streets, nine of them in a row, derive their names from the nine Muses. The Muses were the mythical Greek spirits of the arts. Each name reflects what the ladies represented.

Moving uptown from the Crescent City Connection bridge the streets are:

Calliope – (we pronounce it like the French cal-i-YOHP) She had the strongest voice so she inspires Epic Poetry. The steam organ is loud, hence it got the name ‘Calliope.’

Clio – she is the Muse of History

Erato – she is the sweetest one, the Muse of Romantic Poetry

Thalia – she is the Muse of Comedy and the name of a pop star today.

Melpomene – mel means ‘dark’ and pomene means ‘poetry’ hence the Muse of Tragedy.

Terpsichore – is the Muse of Dance and there is a statue to her on that street.

Euterpe – the Muse of Music

Polymnia – poly means ‘many’ ymnia are ‘hymns’ so this is the inspirer of Religious Poetry

Urania – the Muse of Astronomy.

Not sure how Astronomy fits into the Art world, but it’s nice to know people with telescopes get their own Muse.

'Birth of the Muse' statue on Terpsichore