The Vieux Carré Courier focused on neighborhood social and preservation issues from 1961 until 1978, a time of constant threat to the city’s oldest historic district.
The Vieux Carré Courier was founded in 1961 as a weekly newspaper that covered issues specific to the historic Vieux Carré. Many of its articles focused on the preservation of the neighborhood’s buildings and distinctive character and celebrated its role as both a historic district and a vibrant community.¹ The paper gradually gained a citywide audience and by 1970 had become, according to then-publisher James G. Derbes, “the unofficial preservation journal of New Orleans.”²
In the Vieux Carré Courier’s inaugural November 1961 issue, the newspaper’s editors announced their preservation-focused mission:
Preparation and issuance of this weekly newspaper, addressed to our fellow residents of the Vieux Carré and their guests from far places, exacts an especially deep responsibility and inspires in us an earnest desire to maintain the best interests of this historic area….
Collectively, we in the Vieux Carré have spent close to a billion good American dollars to make our section of the city an honest representation of a time and a people now past. In doing so, however, we have not made a museum or a mausoleum of the Vieux Carré. Always we have sought to keep it organic and living, a place to enjoy, as those who have passed before us enjoyed it….
In dreaming our dream of the past and in recreating it for the present and for posterity and from assaying the vast size of our favorable achievement, we have learned that some principles of restoration are good and that sorry encroachments against them are bad in the long run. These principles the Vieux Carré Courier will ever uphold.³
Throughout its seventeen-year tenure, the newspaper focused on such key issues as resident flight from the neighborhood, threats to historic buildings, the infringement of the growing tourism industry, and the overall integrity and future of the Vieux Carré.⁴ It reported on the activities of such organizations as the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC), the Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates Inc. (VCPORA), and the Louisiana Landmarks Society, and it was an active participant in the fight to stop the Riverfront Expressway, a highway construction project slated for the Vieux Carré that was defeated in 1969. The paper also served as a forum for locals to express their concerns and garner attention for neighborhood and citywide issues. Due to financial strain, the Courier ceased publication in 1978. Copies of issues are available in bound volumes and on microfilm at Tulane University.
1. Alexandra White and Andrea Meier, “Vieux Carré Courier,” Media Nola, Tulane University.
2. “Our Aim,” Vieux Carré Courier, November 25, 1961.
3. James G. Derbes, “Proprietor,” Benachi House & Gardens.
4. White and Meier, “Vieux Carré Courier.”
Suggestions for Additional Reading and Research
Courier, 1973–1978. Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University.
Vieux Carré Courier, 1961–1973. Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University.
Vieux Carré Courier Collection. Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.