Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents & Associates’
2017 Schwartz-Gage Award Luncheon honoring
William E. Borah
William E. Borah’s lifelong dedication to fighting for preservation, for good urban planning, and for better land use policies make New Orleans a better place today.
Last year, the country celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the Department of Transportation Act of 1966. Bill and his team were one of the first in the country to use the Acts to successfully defeat the construction of an elevated, 6-lane Interstate Highway along the Vieux Carré riverfront in front of Jackson Square – setting the stage for the future use of these important statutes.
Bill has been deeply involved in preservation, transportation, and land use issues since graduating from the Tulane Law School. As part of the Stern Family Fund, a New York Foundation, he studied expressway problems in the major cities of the United States and worked with Arthur D. Little, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in preparing an analysis of transportation planning in New Orleans.
Following the opposition to Riverfront Expressway, a Robert Moses highway, he represented the Environmental Defense Fund in successfully opposing the construction of a bridge at Napoleon Avenue, whose six-lane approach system was slated to slice Uptown New Orleans in half. As a member of the Regional Planning Forum, an organization formed to institutionalize citizen involvement in the planning process, Bill participated in the preparation of a report that led to the construction of a parallel bridge in downtown New Orleans instead of Uptown.
Recognizing the need for a balanced transportation system in the inner city, he initiated the establishment of the Riverfront Transit Coalition in the inner city of New Orleans and participated in the successful effort to establish a streetcar line along the downtown riverfront.
As a way to embody the principles that have governed his actions, he created Smart Growth for Louisiana in 1998. Believing that 200,000 sq. ft. big-box stores do not belong in pedestrian-scaled National Register historic districts, such as New Orleans’ Lower Garden District, and that Hope VI developments should benefit the residents displaced when their public housing project was demolished, Bill joined a team of eight attorneys representing five nonprofits that challenged the 64-acre St. Thomas Hope VI / Walmart project in federal and state court.
Bill challenged the dysfunctional planning process that plagued New Orleans for years. As President of Smart Growth for Louisiana in the post-Katrina era, Bill spent countless hours authoring and advocating for amendments to the city’s Home Rule Charter—among his more cherished accomplishments. The changes required the city to have a Master Plan with the force of law. On November 4, 2008, voters approved the Smart Growth charter amendments.
Bill has been the conscience for professional urban planning in New Orleans. As the American Planning Association observed in recognizing Bill in 2010 for his leadership:
“The passage of the Home Rule Charter amendment marked a sea change for planning in New Orleans and promises to become a textbook example of best practice for the profession.”
On behalf of Smart Growth for Louisiana, Bill was a key figure in a coalition opposing the location and design of the LSU/VA projects, two suburban sprawl hospital complexes in lower Mid-City that called for the destruction of 67 acres of a historic neighborhood. Both hospitals had been excluded from the Master Plan planning process. Instead, Bill advocated for alternative, more sustainable sites that would complement the traditional character of the city.
Bill Borah is co-author of The Second Battle of New Orleans: A History of the Vieux Carré Riverfront Expressway Controversy, published by the University of Alabama Press for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 1993, he was named “Environmental Lawyer of the Year” by the Environmental Law Society of Tulane Law School; in 1994, he received the “Iberville Award” from New Orleans magazine for “Acknowledgment of Vision and Dedication to the City’s Riverfront”; in 1998, he received the “Distinguished Leadership Award for a Citizen Planner” from the American Planning Association, Louisiana Chapter; in 2009 he received the Harnett T. Kane Preservation Award from the Louisiana Landmarks Society; and in 2010 he received the National Planning Leadership Award for a Distinguished Contribution from the American Planning Association. In February of 2016, Bill received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Environmental Law Society of Tulane Law School and in June 2016 received the State of Louisiana’s Preservationist of the Year award from the Lt. Governor. Bill taught Historic Preservation, Preservation Law, and Urban Planning at the College of Urban and Public Affairs, University of New Orleans.
Bill has spent his life in the service of his community, fighting for his beloved City of New Orleans. His keen sense of what is right, along with his wisdom, intellect, and unrelenting tenacity have been inspirational. Bill is an eloquent spokesman at local, state and nationwide forums, standing not only as a model, but also as a teacher.
He has been a visionary – devoting his life to working on tough issues such as stopping the expressway from being built in front of Jackson Square–protecting the integrity of the historic French Quarter. Saving the now cherished French Quarter allowed the preservation of not only the important historic architecture, but the culture that is now the center attraction of the tourism industry – the City’s main economic engine. His techniques and strategies have been replicated in preservation battles across the nation. He has no qualms about holding people accountable for, as he would say, “acts of barbarism” – such as acres of historic neighborhoods being leveled in the name of new development or a big box store. Many times his tireless battles came at great personal cost. While his stance has not always been popular, ultimately time has proved it to be correct.
William E. Borah is not only a Louisiana icon, but a national treasure in the field of historic preservation.
Please join the Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents & Associates for the
2017 Schwartz-Gage Award Luncheon honoring
William E. Borah
for his significant contributions to the preservation of the Vieux Carré
Sunday | May 21, 2017 | Noon to 2 p.m.
The Napoleon House 500 Chartres Street
Upstairs in the Rosa and Pietro Rooms
$75 per person | Reservations are limited
Kindly RSVP by May 15
You can also purchase tickets by calling 504.581.7200
Or by check to P.O. Box 56095 | New Orleans, LA 70156
Eugenie Chavanne Schwartz and Grace Chavanne Gage
The Schwartz-Gage Award is named for these two sisters, whose foresight, leadership, and dedication were major factors in the preservation of the Vieux Carré.
Grace moved to the Vieux Carré in 1942, when she became involved in the French Quarter’s art scene, community service, and politics. Her sister Eugenie followed soon thereafter, moving into the neighborhood in 1944. Both were active members of VCPORA, serving on the board, numerous committees, and actively participating in public meetings, hearings, and advocacy efforts. In 1993, Eugenie received the Elizabeth T. Werlein Award, the highest honor offered by the Vieux Carré Commission.
Over the years, Grace and Eugenie, at times individually but usually together, were involved in every major preservation battle that was fought in the Vieux Carré. But their true contributions to preservation was their ceaseless participation in the often small, unsung and unglamorous tasks which they undertook with no goal other than the betterment of the city’s historic neighborhoods. They were familiar faces to the Vieux Carré Commission, City Planning Commission, and City Council, where they spoke often on preservation, planning, and quality of life matters. They recognized that poor land use decisions, even those that seemed minor, could chip away, bit by bit, at the essence of a delicate, living historic district such as the Vieux Carré. These women took a long view, and for decades demonstrated an uncanny ability to get to the heart of a preservation issue – and persuade others to join them. Their ceaseless commitment still serves as an example to the rest of us.
In recognition of the contributions of Eugenie Schwartz and Grace Gage, the Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates created an award in their names, and confers it biannually on a person who has made outstanding contributions to the preservation of the French Quarter.
Jean Boebel 2003
Freddie Pincus 2005
Nathan Chapman 2009
Stuart Smith 2011
Ray Boudreaux and Steven Scalia 2013
Ann Masson 2015
2017 Schwartz-Gage Chair Ann Masson