Constructed in 1978, the Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans’ Warehouse district has seen both boom and bust.
Originally designed as part of an urban revitalization project under New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu, the entire block was reimagined, though only a portion of the plans were realized. The Piazza was completed in 1978 as a surprise space in the middle of the block, however, the rest of the block remained underdeveloped.
Lack of development led the Piazza to fall into disrepair until 2004 when the plaza was renovated and returned to working order. A second renovation starting in 2013 re-added the clock tower and completed further restoration efforts.
The piazza was designed by Postmodern architect Charles Moore as a memorial to the Italian community of New Orleans and as a public space to be enjoyed by all. Following a walking funnel of space from Poydras Street, visitors are met by a combination of colorful colonnades, arches, pools, lighting, and water features.
The center of the water feature includes a cascading St. Joseph’s Fountain in the shape of a map of Italy. Two faces carved into the wall in Moore’s image spit water into a pool. A large rectangular clock tower holds a gate for access from Lafayette Street.
In the center of the Piazza, a column rises up with the Latin inscription, “FONS SANCTI JOSEPHI. HVNC FONTEM CIVES NOVI AVRELIANI TOTO POPULO DONO DEDERUNT.” This means, “The Fountain of St. Joseph: The citizens of New Orleans have given this to all the people as a gift.”
The space was reopened to the public in November 2019 and is currently operated by the adjacent Loew’s Hotel. It is an odd, but welcoming space and worth a walk-through.
Know Before You Go
The Piazza is open 7am to dusk and is most easily accessed from Poydras Street.