What to do with Lee Circle?

Lee Circle was originally called Tivoli Circle because the Lower Garden District was then known as “Place de Tivoli.” Barthelemy Lafon designed the circle in the early 1800s. He planned the area to be a park for public use, primarily for picnics, and music.

When Robert E. Lee died in 1870, a movement began to erect a statue in his honor and name the circle after him. On July 17, 1877, New Orleans turned the circle over to the Lee Monument Association. After years of delay seeking funding, on Feb. 27, 1884, the statue, pedestal and park were renamed Lee Circle at a commemorative ceremony.

After 140 years, the statue was removed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in 2017, and since that date, the towering pedestal has been naked while the name remains. The issue is “What to do with Lee Circle?”

Any effort to honor an individual at this location will likely result in controversy. So why not dedicate this location to a host of honored citizens?

There was mention recently about establishing a walkway of honor to pay tribute to New Orleans personalities who have contributed to the city’s culture (politicians need not apply). Why not convert Lee Circle to this cause?

A walkway acknowledging those who have made New Orleans the cultural mecca it has become would be nice. A sculpture to the arts could replace Lee’s statue and the name Tivoli Circle returned.


history professor