Friday, February 1, 2013

The Hiker

If you are taking the new Loyola Streetcar or walking near the Energy Center building at the intersection of Poydras Street and Loyola Avenue, you may notice this monument.

It hasn't always occupied its current site, but was first erected on South Claiborne Avenue at Canal Street (image above). Local monument artisans Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company created the base and installed the monument. The project was delayed when workers encountered the foundation of an enclosed brick drainage canal under Claiborne Avenue. Opting to avoid damaging the culvert, they drove piles around it and constructed a concrete arch above it in order to support the monument.

Designed by sculptor Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson (1871-1932), The Hiker was a tribute to American soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American War. Veteran and Judge Rufus Edward Foster of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals headed the committee that selected the sculpture, which was erected with funds appropriated by the Louisiana State Legislature.

The Gorham Company purchased the rights to Kitson's piece, and began casting copies in 1921. The New Orleans Hiker was dedicated on Memorial Day 1939.

Image above: "Spanish-American War Memorial By Pioneer Firm." Undated broadside. Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Co. Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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