Roosevelt Way pays homage to venerable hotel
For a modest, one-block stretch in the Central Business District, the street known as University Place has gone by many names. Back in the 19th century, they called it Phillippa street, then Dryades. When the forerunner of Tulane University moved there back in 1887, it earned its present moniker, only to watch Tulane move Uptown a few years later.
After unanimous approval at the New Orleans City Council on Thursday, it will get a fourth name: Roosevelt Way, in honor of the venerable hotel that sits between University Place and Baronne Street and once served as local headquarters for Gov. Huey P. Long.
The switch will only affect the block where the Roosevelt is located. The rest of the street will continue to go by O’Keefe Avenue through the rest of the business district and Oretha Castle Haley, as it’s known in Central City. (In the other direction, heading into the French Quarter, it is Burgundy and stays that way right into the Lower 9th Ward.)
The latest rebranding was long in the works and not without opposition.
The Roosevelt’s owners first proposed the idea four years ago when they reopened the hotel following a major renovation, asking that the city pay tribute to “a fabled destination for travelers from around the world.”
But the City Planning Commission recommended that the City Council refuse, pointing out that several other sites around town are named after the country’s 32nd president and that city officials had been burned in the past, naming streets after notable destinations only to watch those destinations go poof.
Aside from the example of University Place itself, the commissioners cited a stretch of Lake Forest Boulevard recast as Six Flags Parkway in 2004. The amusement park never reopened after Hurricane Katrina.
In October 2011, the council decided to defer the matter indefinitely. But it found its way back onto the agenda this week under the heading, “Unfinished Business.” Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, who now represents the area, asked the council to override the planning commission’s recommendation. She noted that the city’s first responders have been consulted and raised no objections.
The name University Place, she noted has “lost its original meaning.”