Alumna gives hope to understanding New Orleans street names

April 21, 2014 8:45 AM

Alicia Duplessis Jasmin

The correlation between New Orleans street-name placements and the origin of those names is explained in a new book penned by Tulane University alumna Sally Asher.
Hope and New Orleans

Sally Asher's book, Hope and New Orleans, is an encyclopedia-like guide to local street names. (Photo by Sally Asher)

Hope and New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names begins with a letter from “Lucy” dated March 21,1876, from the New Orleans Times (now The Times-Picayune). Lucy seeks clarification about the way her uncle pronounces street names like Terpsichore and Tchoupitoulas.

“I say — Shop-e-too-la. He says — Chop-i-too-lass,” Lucy writes.

In the end, the paper confirms that her uncle is indeed correct. It’s a fitting start to a unique history that will be of interest to generations of New Orleanians as well as visitors seeking to uncover this mysterious aspect of the city.

Asher, who earned a master’s degree in English from Tulane and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in history, is also a Tulane University staff photographer. The book features photos that she took along the journey of writing Hope and New Orleans.

Having grown up on a small farm on the Puget Sound just across from Seattle, Asher never expected to write a book on this topic.

“In the country, we navigated by landmarks and nature so it’s a little ironic that I ended up writing a book about street names,” says Asher. “I started documenting interesting street intersections and wanted a better understanding of the origin of the streets I was photographing.”

The book, published by History Press, delivers a solid history of many New Orleans streets, which follow themes like civic leaders, pirates, plantations and saints.

Since the launch of the book, Asher has made several appearances with a few more soon approaching. Book signings will be held on Thursday (April 24) at Maple Street Book Shop from 6–7:30 p.m., Tuesday (April 29) at the Tulane Bookstore from noon–2 p.m., Friday (May 2) at the Roosevelt Hotel from 6 –8 p.m., and Sunday (May 4) at the Jazz Fest Book Tent from noon–1 p.m.

A complete list of appearances and times is available on her website.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000