New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
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400 Esplanade -- U.S. Mint

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At the corner of Esplanade Avenue (400 Esplanade) and North Peters Street near the Mississippi River sits the imposing Greek Revival style U.S. Mint which was built in 1836.  Fort St. Charles (built in 1792) had protected the north-west corner of the original city at this site during the Spanish Colonial Period.  In later years this plot of land adjacent to the French Market was the location of the first Jackson Square in New Orleans.  The branch mint was established in 1833 and opened in 1838 as the largest mint in the United States.  The 282’ by 81’ walls are 36 inches thick at the basement level and taper to 18 inches on the third story.  The exterior is composed of cemented brick topped with a Mississippi River mud plaster.  During the Civil War (in 1861) the United State of Louisiana coined Confederate currency and housed soldiers there.  From 1879 through 1910 it reverted back producing U.S. currency.  In 1927 through 1930 the Veterans Bureau used the building.  In 1932 it served as a federal prison for short term violators of the Volstead Act.  The U.S. Coast Guard Reception Center was located there in 1943.  From 1981 until Hurricane Katrina the building was used as branch of the Louisiana State Museum.  (Courtesy Library of Congress.)

 

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In this 1897 photograph women workers at the U.S. Mint in New Orleans inspect and weigh blank coins.  Coin Adjustors (historically always women) filed the edges of slightly overweight coins until they weighed the precise amount required; if blanks were underweight or too heavy for filing they were returned to be re-melted and recast.  Scales in adjusting rooms were so accurate that a breath or a breeze could affect their accuracy therefore coin adjustors worked in rooms with closed doors and windows regardless of the temperature in pre-air-conditioning days.  (Courtesy Library of Congress.)