NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It holds a special place in the hearts of many generations of New Orleanians.
City Park is home of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. Trees in the oldest grove are over 800 years old.
The park is approximately one mile wide and three miles long, spanning across 1,300 total acres. It's the sixth largest urban park in the United States – nearly twice as big as Central Park in New York City.
Once the site of Allard Plantation facing Bayou St. John, the park has a storied past.
Key moments: (Timeline compliments of citypark.com)
1718: City of New Orleans founded. Francois Hery receives property in land grant from France.
1770: Santiago Loreins leaves property to his daughter and son-in-law, Jean Louis Allard.
1845: John McDonogh purchases Allard plantation property at sheriff's auction.
1850: McDonogh dies and leaves estate to cities of New Orleans and Baltimore, Maryland.
1854: 4th District Court pronounces the property a public park (approximately 100 acres).
1890: Dueling in the Park outlawed.
1891: City Park Improvement Association is founded. Property officially established as "City Park"
1892: July 15, the first "Fete Champetre" is held to raise funds.
1897: Mule-driven carousel is first operated.
1898: First operation of miniature train.
1902: Original golf course is constructed.
1905: City Park racetrack opens February 11 (closed 1908)
1906: Murphy builds new mechanical carousel. Pony rides begin.
1907: Peristyle completed for outdoor dances.
1910: International Aviators use Racetrack for airfield. Moisant crashes and is killed.
1911: December 16, the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art is dedicated, renamed in 1971 "New Orleans Museum of Art"
1913: July 11, Casino building is opened offering refreshments. The name means a small 'casa' used for enjoyable activities, later becomes commonly used to refer to gambling establishments.
1915: May 26, G.T. Beauregard Statue is erected.
1917: Popp Bandstand is constructed and dedicated on July 4.
1919: McFadden purchases property and builds mansion (from 1949 to the present it is used as a boys' school)
1924: Irby swimming pool is built.
1927: 900-acre extension of the park.
1928: First tennis courts were built. John Phillip Sousa performs at bandstand.
1937: April 29, President Roosevelt visits park to dedicate Roosevelt Mall and other WPA projects including City Park Stadium (renamed Tad Gormley in 1965)
1938: First New Orleans Open, the city's PGA event, is held (last played in City Park in 1962)
1942: Dorothy Lamour sells war bonds in stadium.
1944: Bob Hope performs in stadium.
1946: First City Park Big Bass Fishing Rodeo.
1956: Storyland opens.
1959: Roy Rogers and Trigger appear in stadium.
1964: September 16, the Beatles perform in stadium.
1973: Pan American Stadium built and dedicated.
1978: Friends of City Park established.
1982: Enclosure and restoration of Rose Garden by Friends of City Park.
1984: First "A Tribute to the Christmas Tree" event held (later renamed Celebration In The Oaks)
1986: Restoration of Storyland by Friends of City Park.
1988: Restoration of Carousel by Friends of City Park.
1989: Carousel placed on National Register of Historic Places. Restoration of the Peristyle by Friends of City Park.
1991: 100th Anniversary of City Park Improvement Association.
1992: Tad Gormley Stadium remodeled to host U S Olympic Track & Field Trials.
1994: June 16, dedication of Pavilion of the Two Sisters in the garden.
1999: Popp Fountain restored. Casino Building renovated.
2000: Couturie Forest Nature Trail and Arboretum project completed. Natural turf system installed in Tad Gormley.
2002: November 22, Conservatory of the Two Sisters dedicated.
2003: November 23, Besthoff Sculpture Garden opens.
2004: Celebration in the Oaks adds James Rice's 'A Cajun Night Before Christmas' computer animated light display.
2005: March, City Park 2018 Master Plan is approved by the Park's board. August 29, Hurricane Katrina and failure of the Federal Levee System leads to flooding up to eight feet in sections of the park. Water sits as long as three weeks. Park incurs $43 million in damages. Operations cease. Staff count drops to 23.
September, A donation from the Azby Fund allows rehiring some staff, replacement of electrical systems, and clearing, & replanting of the Botanical Garden allowing a special post-Katrina Celebration in the Oaks (December).
Some Tennis courts are reopened.
2006: March, The Botanical Garden, Driving Range, and Storyland reopen following Hurricane Katrina; repairs begin on the Carousel Gardens Amusement area. The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park is reopened for Celebration in the Oaks.
2007: Carousel Gardens Amusement park resumes seasonal operations.
2008: The North Golf Course, Pan American Stadium and Tad Gormley Stadium all reopen after millions of repairs and upgrades. Hurricane Gustav caused approximately $500,000 in damages in the park.
2009: Big Lake dedicated.
2010: Goldring / Woldenberg Great Lawn dedicated. NOLA City Park Dog Park opens. 2,050 trees planted in Couturie Forest.
2011: New City Park / Pepsi Tennis Center is dedicated. Staff moved into a brand new Administration Building. The Arbor Room at Popp Fountain opens.
2012: Matt Savoie Soccer Complex dedicated. 50-acre Festival Grounds dedicated. Slow-moving Category 1 Hurricane Isaac pummeled the park for more than 60 hours. Lost revenue and damages exceeded $750,000.
(Timeline from City Park. For more information, visit citypark.com)