Wednesday, May 18, 2011

House Numbering New Orleans

In the early nineteenth century, the city of New Orleans codified its system of numbering houses:

ART. 1. The numbering of houses in the city of New-Orleans and its suburbs shall be established by one series of numbers for each and every street, and for this purpose the front part of each square, road, or alley, shall be divided in sections of twenty feet, if practicable, or in sections of nineteen or thirty feet, the one or the other, as circumstances or conveniency may require. Each of these sections shall bear one number. The corner, lots, or houses shall be subject to the same division on the fronts of both streets.

ART. 2. Each series of numbers shall be formed of even numbers for the right side of the street, and of odd numbers for the left side, excepting such of the streets as may have a row house on only one side, for which the natural order of numbers shall be followed.

ART. 3. The right side of the street shall be determined in the streets perpendicular to the river Mississippi, by the right of a person going down from the river towards the back part of the city, and in the streets parallel to the river, by the right of a person going down from Canal street in the direction of the current of the river; and by the right side of a person going up from Canal street in a direction contrary to the current of the river.

ART. 4. The inscription of numbers shall be made on tin or iron plates of an oval form, and of suitable proportions, painted in black oil color. The numbers shall be written in Arabic figures of at least three inches in length, painted with white lead ground in oil. The plates shall be well varnished so as not to be injured by the rain or dampness.

ART. 5. The numbers shall be placed above the main door of each house whenever it can be done, and in case of any obstacle, the numbers shall be placed on the right side of the door, and at least ten feet above the soil.

ART. 13. The City Surveyor is hereby required to superintend the said numbering; and when let out by contract, the undertaker shall affix no number without the presence and consent of said Surveyor; and in proportion as each house or lot shall be numbered conformably to the above provisions, the undertaker shall have the right to demand from each proprietor or tenant the payment of the amount to him due by reason of said work.

If you want to read more early city ordinances, including those that dictated building materials, paving guidelines, slaughterhouse and market restrictions, consult: A general digest of the ordinances and resolutions of the corporation of New-Orleans. Made by order of the City council, by their secretary, D. Augustin. New Orleans: 1831. Multiple copies of the publication are available in Tulane University Libraries.

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