The campus of Tulane, a premier Southern university, is an attractive tableau of live oaks, red-brick buildings and green quads spread across 110 acres above Audubon Park. This is one of the prettiest colleges in the country, and it’s a pleasant place to stop and stretch your legs if you’re riding the St Charles Avenue Streetcar across town.
Tulane has an interesting origin as a yellow-fever buster. In 1834 the Medical College of Louisiana was founded in an attempt to control repeated cholera and yellow-fever epidemics. By 1847 the University of Louisiana merged with the school, and in 1883, philanthropist Paul Tulane gave the school a $1 million donation, which initiated significant expansion and slapped his name on the entire institution.
Tulane boasts around 13,500 students in 10 colleges and schools, including a law school whose entire student body seems to fill up Magazine St cafes during exam time, and the highly regarded medical school, now located downtown. Big-name alumni include former French president Jacques Chirac, Republican politician Newt Gingrich, TV presenter Jerry Springer, and a very long list of Louisiana governors, judges and assorted politicos.
The Amistad Research Center, which holds more than 15 million documents, is one of the nation’s largest repositories of African American history. Despite the size of the collection, the facility is not a museum. For visitors, there is a small area on the 2nd floor with rotating exhibits, which offer insights on ethnic heritage that you’re not likely to get from any other source. A past exhibit about African Americans in sports included documents and photographs related to the Negro Baseball League. The displayed works of art from the Aaron Douglas Collection are another reason to drop by.
Oral histories are the heart of the music holdings at the Hogan Jazz Archive, a collection of New Orleans jazz artifacts including sheet music, photographs, journals and recordings. Most of the archive’s great wealth of material is not on exhibit; the helpful staff will retrieve items for you. Treasures include stacks of 78rpm recordings, such as early sides recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917. Interested in architecture? Walk down the hall to see what's displayed in the Southeastern Architectural Archives, which recently put the spotlight on Gulf Coast bungalows.
Flanked by beautiful Tiffany stained-glass triptychs, the Newcomb Art Museum is a great spot to soak up some art, typically with a local or regional spin. Just outside is a pretty green, where students sunbathe, toss Frisbees and generally recede into the happiest rhythms of American higher ed.