October 30, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 250 YEARS LATER: ORIGINAL FRENCH STREET NAMES RETURN DOWNTOWN
MAYOR FRANCIS SLAY RECEIVES ANNIVERSARY GIFT from LES AMIS THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 10:30 A.M. at the NW CORNER of MARKET & BROADWAY Inside KIENER PLAZA
(October 30, 2014) – October 30, 2014, St. Louis, MO... Mayor Francis Slay will unveil one of the historical markers installed on seven downtown streets still extant from the early village in 1764. These streets bear new signs with their original French names. The new signage and historical markers are a 250th Anniversary gift from Les Amis ("The Friends"). This French heritage preservationist organization represents the mid-Mississippi River Valley's unique Creole culture. "Restoring the early character of the founding village to the busy thoroughfares of today reminds us of our unique identity formed from the French and Spanish Colonial periods. These signs will remind residents and tourists alike of our heritage," Mayor Slay noted.
Board member and noted watercolorist Daven Anderson has spent the past four years negotiating this project through many civic agencies. Robert Moore, Ph.d, Historian for the National Park Service, created the English texts for the markers. Charter members Dr. Anne Craver and Odile Tompkins collaborated on the French translations of the markers. Les Amis raised the substantial sum to produce them at a 250th Anniversary gala fundraiser in the fall of 2010. (Both Messrs. Auguste Chouteau and Pierre Laclede were guests of honor).
The original French street names to be added near their current names are:
La Grande Rue, la Rue Royale First Street
La Rue de l'Eglise Second Street
La Rue des Granges Third Street
La Rue de la Tour Walnut Street
La Rue de la Place Market Street
La Rue Missouri Chestnut Street
La Rue Quicapou Pine Street
"One thinks of the signage in the French Quarter in New Orleans," commented Daven Anderson. "The historical markers tell in both French and English how any given street name reflected its function or location. For example, rue de l'Eglise, (Church Street or Second Street) led to the original church in the center of the village. The Old Cathedral remains today as the fourth church built on that very same site. It is unfortunate that the Streets Department balked at placing the French signs immediately next to or attached to the present day street markers. In some cases the connection between the names is less apparent. We hope that Streets will reconsider the policy and allow a reconnection between the original and present day names".
"Whenever funding is available Les Amis hopes to see this signage system extended around the entire Creole Corridor on both sides of the river---from Cahokia to Chester, Il. and from Ste. Genevieve to St. Louis, Mo.," added stl250's Historic Reenactment Chair, Elizabeth Gentry Sayad. "St. Louis is the gateway to the Creole Corridor which has been officially nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whether this comes about or not", stated St. Louis Convention and Visitors' Center Brian Hall, "this region is ready to receive an influx of tourists already underway".