Louisiana Division/City Archives   New Orleans Public Library

Image of the Month
August 2009

For at least the first seventy-five years of its life as an incorporated city, New Orleans struggled with an ever expanding public debt. Then--as now--the city's income was never quite enough to cover all of its operating and capital expenses, and the government had to borrow money to keep things running. The city's experiment with three separate municipalities during 1836-1852 only made matters worse; Civil War and Reconstruction only made them impossible. It was not until the establishment of the present Board of Liquation, City Debt in 1880 that New Orleans was able to gain control of its indebtedness.

This month's image shows one of the Gold Bonds issued by the City of New Orleans in 1872--just one in a long line of failed efforts to put the municipality on a firm financial footing. A note on its reverse indicates that this individual bond was issued on November 9, 1874 in exchange for one of the consolidated bonds originally distributed in 1854. It appears to have been redeemed in 1922 by Miss Carrie O. Rosenstream of New Orleans. The bond is just one item in the records of the Commissioners of the Consolidated Debt of New Orleans held in the City Archives collection.

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