General Laundry

Color in the wall at the old General Laundry building.
Color in the wall at the old General Laundry building.

So. Let’s see what I can add to yesterday’s rant.

One of my issues is simple. Because everybody points something with a lens on it at everything possible, while forgetting to live their lives, I’ve run out of pictures to take. Everything I photograph has been photographed 2,376,893 times before I get to it. Mostly, the pictures aren’t all that great, or even very good. But, that doesn’t matter. Few people can really tell the difference between a good picture and something else. I see a lot of pictures on Facebook. Usually, somebody or other says, “Oh, great picture.” I think to myself, “Huh? It is?” What do I know?

So. Let’s use this picture as an example. I got all excited when I saw this place. I’d never seen it. I’d never seen a picture of it, and until I googled it, I didn’t know anything about it.

Uh oh. You know what’s coming next. Here’s the history.

It’s called The General Laundry Cleaners and Dyers. It was built in 1930 to replace the previous building which burned in 1929. It is located on St. Peter Street in something called The Parkview Historic District. The architecture is called High Style Art Deco. The owner was Robert Chapoit. He built it for $250,000. This was a really big deal. When he held the grand opening party, 5,000 people attended. It was called a local marvel. In the 1970s, The United States Post Office wanted to demolish it to make way for a parking lot in anticipation of growing mail usage. It’s a good thing that they were stopped, eh? In 1974, the building facade was declared a landmark by The National Registry of Historic Places. It survived Hurricane Katrina while the neighborhood pretty much didn’t. Those bright colors? They haven’t faded because the pigment was mixed into the cement. Pretty cool, huh?

It seems like everybody knows about this place but me. Most of the pictures I found — tons of them — aren’t all that good. The neighborhood is scary. The pictures reflect the photographer’s fear. Hit and run pictures.

Oh. The Parkview Historic District? Wikipedia has about two lines on it. Apparently, this building is the heart of it. Like many neighborhoods in New Orleans, nobody can agree on exactly where it is located. The neighborhood association puts it in one place, but some people think that my old neighborhood is part of it. Funny, all that time I thought that I lived in Esplanade Ridge which is really just a realtor’s name for a few streets located on the far upriver side of the 7th Ward. What do I know?

Maybe I should be satisfied with that… just knowing where I am at any given time.



  1. Take heart. There are those who know the difference. What you pour into a picture is uniquely yours, even if the subject has been photographed a million times, but who am I to tell you this? you know it. Just like the nightingale may sings the songs already sung, its music is always as new and sweet. Should it stop enchanting us night after night ? now I wax poetic, so I’d better go . . .

    PS: I am not opposed to rants, we need somebody to say all that, we ain’t Pollyanna buying cotton candy after all, or so I hope anyway.

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