1/4/16

New Orleans Souvenir

Jan 4, 2016 - I treated myself to  pair of earrings as a souvenir of my trip to New Orleans.  I wanted something with the fleur-de-li so popular in the city.  Then I ran across these sterling silver charmers at the flea market by the river.  I was attracted to the shape with the tiny circle dangling below the fleur-de-li.  The vendor quickly began his pitch explaining the circle was a replica of a New Orleans manhole cover.  His story  included how manhole covers were stolen and sold on ebay to raise money after Hurricane Katrina.  However, I found this blog post by Felipe G. Massa that explains they have been a sought after souvenir for some time. 

I loved his post about "The Case of the Coveted Manhole Cover" and have copied the biggest portion of  it below:


Sometimes opportunities for entrepreneurship are literally laid down at your feet. As I've started getting to know New Orleans, I've begun to notice the little things that give the city its world renowned charm. Most people remember the beautiful houses along St. Charles, the iconic and noisy streetcars (no wonder he had to scream Stella so loud), or the balconies that hover over the streets of the French Quarter. I was just as interested in the little things, like the ever-present fleur-de-lis that are emblazoned all over the airport, tattooed on the locals and proudly displayed in flags hanging over awesome porches everywhere.

The flag of the city of New Orleans has three fleur-de-lis, derived from is the yellow, 6-petaled lilies that surround the River Luts in the Netherlands. It also became a symbol of French royalty indicating divine favor.

   A less prevalent, but also very cool looking New Orleans artifact, is the water meter cover made by the Ford Meter Box Company of Wabash, Indiana (aka "the company that cares"). In1898 Edwin Ford, a superintendent of the waterworks for Hartford City, filed a patent application for the Ford Meter Box. As superintendent, Ford wanted to make sure that customers were not wasting water and costing themselves and the city money. So, in the basement of his house, Ford designed and produced the first meters and boxes. These boxes helped protect meters from the harsh Indiana winters as well as from general wear and tear. Soon, Ford agreed to supply neighboring communities with the meters. Eventually, news of the meter boxes reached Louisiana where boxes were desperately needed to protect meters - while some meters were installed in basements, the lack of basements in New Orleans and Baton Rouge called for boxes to be installed in the ground. The beautiful New Orleans meter box cover bearing the crescent moon and shining stars was designed by Edwin Ford in the early 1920s after a visit to the crescent city. By the mid twenties, nearly half the company's sales were to the City of New Orleans.



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