City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

Building Plans in the City Archives
Date Range: 1881 - 2010 [on-going]
Size of Collection: 3636 sets [on-going]
Acquisition: Transferred to the City Archives from the Department of Safety & Permits, the Vieux Carre Commission, and other city agencies
Terms of Access: Available by appointment


General Description of the Records

The index below lists, by street address, the collection of building plans in the City Archives at the New Orleans Public Library. Most of these plans were transferred to the Archives by the Department of Safety and Permits, but additional plans have come into the Archives from the Vieux Carre Commission, other municipal agencies, Civil Court suit records, and other miscellaneous sources.

There was no legal requirement that property owners or builders file plans with city officials until 1884 when ordinance #733, Council Series, required that such plans, along with specifications, be submitted to the Surveyor if they were used. Thus, the City Archives collection has only one set of plans prior to this date.

Most of the plans in this collection are blueprints or blue line prints. Several are original drawings and are so identified in the index. Additional building plans and other architectural drawings will be found in the James Dakin Collection, the McDonogh Schools Plan Collection, and in the Louisiana Map Collection. For additional information on those collections, patrons should consult with an archivist.

Scope Note

Department of Safety & Permits plans:
In the absence of a formal retention schedule (not yet developed for this agency), plans are retained by the Department of Safety and Permits for a period of at least 3 years following the issuance of a building permit. After that time, plans may be transferred to the City Archives and certain of those plans (though not all) are retained permanently. (See Criteria for Retention of Building Plans in the City Archives for further detail.)

The Plan Processing Unit of the Department of Safety and Permits first transferred building plans to the City Archives in 1974. At that time, the office transferred all plans that had been retained in the department, almost all of which were non-residential. Thus, the City Archives has very few plans for residential structures prior to 1974. Since that first deposit, Safety & Permits has continued to deposit plans on an irregular basis.

About 450 sets of plans are available only on 35mm microfilm. These plans represent some of the earlier sets in the collection (1894-1949).

Vieux Carre Comission Plans:
The Vieux Carre Commission transferred plans to the City Archives in several installments during the 1990s. Most of the plans (which can be identified by filing numbers beginning with the letter "V" or by the letters "VCC" in place of a permit number) are blueprint copies filed by project architects or engineers with the Commission. They generally are stamped with the date of Commission approval. Researchers should note that these plans are the Commission's copies, not the final copies approved by the Department of Safety and Permits.

Even earlier Vieux Carre Commission plans are available on several rolls of 35mm microfilm (AS620 ca. 1955-1976 mf) are also available on microfilm. These plans are not indexed, nor are they arranged in any logical order on the microfilm.

Access and Use

Plans are available for review in the Louisiana Division reading room. In order to assure availability we strongly advise that patrons call ahead and speak to an archivist. Plans may not be copied on photocopy machines in the Library, nor may patrons check them out directly. For further information on copying plans, please consult with an archivist.

About the Index

In the index below, the individual plans are listed in alphabetical order by name of fronting street and then in numerical order by street address. Entries are in the following format:

Street Name, Street Address
Exact addresses are not shown on some plans. In such cases bounding streets are listed. Individual buildings within larger groupings usually are listed under a corporate address (e.g., most structures on Tulane University's Uptown campus are listed under 6836 St. Charles Ave. and most Louisiana World Exposition properties are listed at 805 Convention Center Boulevard). For a very few plans, no fronting street is indicated; in those instances the plans are listed in a separate "No Address Given" grouping.
Name or Type of Building
Buildings are listed under formal or informal names (e.g., Maison Blanche) when possible. If a building is part of a larger institutional or commercial entity, then the name of that entity is listed in this field (e.g., Charity Hospital) and the name of the individual structure is listed in the "Nature of Work" field. When no such names are shown on the plans, or could not otherwise be identified, the listing is by building type (e.g., two story commercial building).
Nature of Work
This field is used to identify work other than original construction (i.e., renovation). In some cases the nature of work is indicated along with the name or type of building. As indicated above, this field is also used to name individual structures within a larger institutional or commercial entity.
Exact date of approval by Plan Processing is shown when indicated on the plan. If the date was taken from the plan itself ("date drawn"), in most cases the year only is listed.
Building Permit Number
Generally included when shown on the plan for identification purposes only. In most cases letter prefixes have been omitted. Plans received from the Vieux Carre Commission, which do not have final permit numbers, have "VCC" in the permit number field.
Architect or Engineer
Complete identification of all project participants is not necessarily indicated.
Filing Number
Plans with unprefixed numbers 450 or lower are on microfilm under call number KJG620. All other plans must be retrieved from storage by a staff member.


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No Address Given

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