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The Secret (a treasure hunt) / Image 7 Verse 2 Solution
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Image 7 Verse 2 Solution

Page history last edited by Oregonian 2 years, 1 month ago



 The casque associated with Image 7 and Verse 2 was very likely buried in New Orleans, Louisiana within the downtown block bordered by St. Charles Avenue and Gravier, Carondelet, and Common Streets.  The burial spot was somewhere near 29°57'07.6"N 90°04'13.9"W (29.952116, -90.070522).


 Various Mardi Gras clues get us to downtown New Orleans.  The image and verse guide us down Lafayette Street to the Piazza d'Italia, which is shaped like a series of concentric circles interrupted by the shape of Italy.  From there we can follow either of two paths as shown by the arrows around the clock face.  Our final destination is the block where the St. Charles Hotel once stood before it was torn down in 1974.  At the time Preiss buried his casque (around 1981) the space was being used as a parking lot, but the casque was almost certainly destroyed when the 53-story Place St. Charles was constructed on the site in 1984.  Firm proof of this location is therefore impossible.



Detailed Solution

The solution given below will present clues from the verse and the image in a way that narrows down the search area to that specific point.  Bits of the original image are shown in the left column in cells with a tan background.  Lines from the verse are in the same column but with a yellow background.  (For more detail about any particular clue, check the page for Image 7 or Verse 2.) 
Clues Interpretations

  Both the Cleveland puzzle and the Chicago puzzle hid outlines of their respective states inside the images as broad clues to the general locations.  It's natural then that searchers will be looking in Image 7 to find an analogous shape.


  The checkerboard background pattern of the image includes a faint detail that resembles the head of a wolf or a horse.  When rotated upside-down, the "wolf head" shape resembles the outline of Louisiana.  Features such as Vermilion Bay and Marsh Island may be visible.

Image result for louisiana state outline


  The clock face has a "90" in the lower right corner and a "29" in the upper right corner.  Many puzzles in The Secret appear to use numbers to indicate an allowable range of latitude and/or longitude.  If we take the 29 to be the starting coordinates for the latitude and 90 to be the starting coordinates of the longitude, we are considering a rectangle at the southeastern tip of Louisiana.


  The pink area in the map at left shows the box where latitudes would begin with 29 and longitudes would begin with 90.  New Orleans is the only city of any size within this box.  (And, realistically, there is no chance that the casque would be hidden in the low-lying, flood-prone marshlands along the coast.)


1) At the place where jewels abound


  The largest and best-known city in Louisiana is New Orleans, where an enormous Mardi Gras celebration takes place each year.  One of the traditional elements of the week-long event is the tossing of bead necklaces from the parade floats to the spectators.  Unbelievable amounts of these "jewels" are distributed during this yearly event.  (A recent cleaning by the city removed 93,000 pounds of the beads that were clogging storm drains.) 


  If a searcher is trying to connect Verse 2 to a city in North America, the mention of abundant jewels should be a powerful clue toward New Orleans.  The restriction on a longitude of 90 degrees or higher would include all of the downtown area west of the Lower Ninth Ward.


Photo used under a Creative Commons license
Attribution Some rights reserved by Derek Bridges

  The mask in Image 7 reinforces the New Orleans connection in two ways.  First, it resembles the sort of carnival mask that revelers sometimes wear during Mardi Gras, as in this 1980 photo.  Second, the face on the mask resembles the face of Louis Armstrong, the famous jazz musician who was very closely linked to that city.




  Starting with the general location of New Orleans, there are two features in Image 7 that seem to be relevant.  First, the checkerboard wallpaper on either side of the grandfather clock gives the appearance of a fairly regular grid pattern.  In the context of a major city, it naturally makes us think of streets and blocks.  Many places in New Orleans have that consistent arrangement.


  Second, there is the large, white moon at the top of the grandfather clock.  In 1975 New Orleans finally completed the Superdome, a massive sports stadium located on the edge of downtown.  Construction took four years and cost the then-astronomical sum of $165 million.  The white dome on the top of the structure has a diameter of 680 feet, making it the largest fixed dome structure in the world.


  At the time when Preiss was hiding his casques, around 1980, the Superdome would have been one of the largest, most well-known, most distinctive, and (presumably) most permanent structures in the southeastern United States.  The inclusion of the large, white circle in Image 7 is meant to confirm the location of New Orleans and steer us toward the a nearby area where the streets form vertical and horizontal lines.



  If we follow the guidance of Image 7 and put the white circle of the Superdome at the top and rotate our map so that the streets in the downtown area form vertical and horizontal lines, we end up with the layout shown below (where northwest is at the top). This is a modern satellite photo, but most of the major elements are the same as they would have been in 1980.


  This is the map we'll be using for most of our walkthrough of the solution, so it's worth taking a moment to get our bearings.


  The Mississippi River (the "Big Muddy") is the brown band at the bottom.  The Pontchartrain Expressway is the highway on the left.  It intersects Interstate 10 at the top of the photo, forming broad curves above the Superdome similar to the curves above the moon in the grandfather clock. 


  The Central Business District is the area directly below the Superdome.  The French Quarter is the area in the lower right.  Canal Street is the major road that divides them.


  Lafayette Street, which passes through Lafayette Square, forms a vertical line pointing almost-but-not-quite directly at the dome, in the same way that the clock hands in Image 7 point almost at the moon.





3) In the middle of twenty-one

4) From end to end


  Let's skip Line 2 for a moment and go forwards to Lines 3 and 4.


  The words "twenty-one from end to end" are very likely a reference to Lafayette street, which starts in the Tulane/Gravier neighborhood and stretches across the Central Business District, almost to the Mississippi.  Starting at South Galvez Street and heading east, Lafayette currently has the following intersections: 1) Johnson, 2) Prieur, 3) Roman, 4) Bertrand, 5) Derbigny, 6) Bolivar, 7) Claiborne, 8) Loyola, 9) Rampart, 10) O'Keefe, 11) Baronne, 12) Carondelet, 13) St. Charles, 14) Camp, 15) Magazine, 16) Constance, 17) Tchoupitoulas, 18) Commerce, 19) Peters, 20) Fulton, 21) Convention Center Blvd., and 22) Poydras.  That makes 22 blocks (rather than 21) but the extra block comes from street changes associated with the construction of the New Orleans Convention Center, which only opened in 1985.


  A close-up from the 1981 Rand McNally street map for New Orleans (shown at left in the standard orientation, with north at the top) illustrates the eastern end of Lafayette ending in this sequence of streets: 17) Tchoupitoulas, 18) Commerce, 19) Peters, 20) Fulton, and 21) Front.  That makes 21 blocks!  The phrase "from end to end" is probably meant as a reminder that searchers should actually look for the western end of Lafayette, rather than assuming that it stops at Loyola and the Superdome.



Here's the comparison between a modern satellite photo on the left and a 1980 Rand McNally street map on the right.  (Both maps are rotated to have northwest at the top and southeast at the bottom.) 

The two sections of Lafayette Avenue (separated by the Superdome) are highlighted in yellow on both maps.




5) Only three stand watch


  If the "twenty-one from end to end" is a reference to Lafayette Street, then the "middle" where "three stand watch" is almost certainly a reference to Lafayette Square, which features three statues of standing figures.  The square interrupts Lafayette Street and the statues are located in three circles that form a line across the square where the street would naturally run.


Photo of John McDonogh monument by Wally Gobetz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Photo of Henry Clay monument by Xiquinho Silva is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Photo of Benjamin Franklin monument by Frank Fujimoto is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0



The first lines of Verse 2 all appear to be drawing our attention to Lafayette Avenue.  Similarly, the clock hands and mask stick in Image 7 draw our attention to vertical lines that point up almost directly at the full moon.  Taken together, it seems clear that we are meant to take a closer look at both the avenue and the stick.


  The hand that clutches the mask stick is the only living thing in the image.  It is front and central, with a bright spotlight coming down from above and a blue light giving it the blue halo from below.  The hand is obviously meant to be the central, important feature of this image.


 Some important things to note:

  • The way the hand grasps the pole is awkward and unnatural.  (Try it for yourself and see.)  The arrangement of the fingers must mean something.
  • If the whole image is a street map for part of New Orleans, then the pole attached to the mask almost certainly represents a street in the Central Business District. 
  • The lower two fingers are held horizontally, parallel to each other and perpendicular to the pole.  They also completely cover the pole.
  • The middle finger and index finger are not horizontal. They both come down at the same angle (parallel to each other) and leaves a rhombus of pole visible between those fingers.

  It's not a perfect match, but the werewolf's hand on the pole could be a diagram of the streets and intersections between Lafayette Square and Front Street.  The pole would be Lafayette Street and all the fingers would be the streets that run across it. 


  From bottom to top: Magazine and Constance are close together and orthogonal to Lafayette.  Tchoupitoulas and Peters are more widely spread apart and cross the street at a slant.


  Given the overwhelming evidence in the image and verse that steers us to Lafayette Street, this interpretation of the street diagram is very likely to be correct.






Click on the image at left to see a labeled version that might make the corresponding fingers and streets more clear.


(Sidenote: We apologize for yet another orientation of our street map.  This time, the Mississippi River is at the top and the Superdome would be at the bottom.  This map shows the blocks of Lafayette Street between Lafayette Square and Front Street.)



6) As the sound of friends

7) Fills the afternoon hours


  These lines steer us to a place of rest and social interaction, such as a park.  Given the emphasis on Lafayette Street and Lafayette Square up to this point, it's natural to think that these lines continue the same focus.  But the earlier lines already led us to the square, so it would be a waste to simply repeat the same hint.  And there is another gathering spot located a little further along the same street, in the spot indicated by the werewolf's index finger...





Our route so far:



A) Superdome



B) Lafayette Street



C) Lafayette Square



D) the Piazza d'Italia



  The Piazza d'Italia is located on Lafayette Street a few blocks from Lafayette Square, between Tchoupitoulas and Peters in the hand/stick diagram above.  It was completed in 1979, which meant it would have been a new and notable landmark in the city when Preiss visited. 


  Many people immediately reject the idea that the Piazza is part of any solution.  It's garish.  It's unknown.  It's not what people think of when they think of New Orleans.  All of those things are true, but they could also be said of the Cultural Gardens in Cleveland, which turned out to be the right site.  Several factors suggest that the Piazza is well worth a closer look.


  First off, how would Byron Preiss, an author and publisher in New York City, know about a small, obscure thing like the Piazza d'Italia in New Orleans?


  The answer, very likely, is that Preiss (like anyone else in the NYC publishing world) was a subscriber and regular reader of the New York Times.  A 1979 Times article by the architectural critic Paul Goldberger discussed the newly-built Piazza and described it as a "wild and mad vision."  The article would have been published right around the time that Preiss was planning his trips and looking for places to bury the casques.


  (It would be interesting to know if Preiss and Goldberger knew each other, but a personal connection isn't necessary for the solution.)

  So Preiss likely knew about the Piazza, but how do we know that he had Palencar incorporate some of the features into Image 7?


  Start with the overall structure.  Our grandfather clock has an upper arch that flares out to each side and seems to be supported by pillars.  And, framed inside of that, is another, smaller arch.


Photo used under a Creative Commons license
Attribution Some rights reserved by nola.agent

  The centerpiece of the whole Piazza matches that structure.  There is a larger arch that flares out to each side and is supported by pillars.  And, framed within that arch, is a smaller arch.


Photo used under a Creative Commons license
Attribution Some rights reserved by nola.agent

  There's also one minor-but-interesting feature about the numerals of the Image 7 clock:  The four is shown as "IV" rather than as "4" or "IIII."


  The Piazza features a large clock face with roman numerals.  There are other outdoor clocks with Roman numerals in the puzzle area but, as far as we know, this was the only large, prominent clock in all of downtown New Orleans that represented four as "IV" in 1980.


  Then there's also the matter of the odd "newsboy" in the middle of the clock face.  The combination of a mask and diamond-patterned tights gives the person the appearance of a Harlequin, one of the standard characters from the Italian Commedia dell'arte.  A Harlequin is traditionally shown wearing a mask and dressed in colorful clothes with a diamond pattern.


 There's also a pattern of concentric circles all missing roughly the same segments. The mask interrupts the outer and middle circles, but the boy interrupts the inner circles. Those innermost arcs radiate out both from a shoe and from a shoe-like shape: the strangely bulging right hand of the stretched-out, arching, oddly-positioned newsboy.

  The Piazza is a monument to honor Italian immigrants. The entire structure is designed around a series of terraces that form the shape of Italy. 


  Seen from above, the monument has arcs of several concentric circles that are interrupted by the shape of Italy.  In particular, the innermost circles radiate out from the terraces that form the Calabria region (the "toe" of Italy). 



  Anyone studying the Piazza will eventually make the connection: The stretched out newsboy figure on the face of the clock is a representation of the shape of Italy!


  Yes, it's a maddeningly abstract representation, like all the others in The Secret, but it's clear enough.  In addition to the "Calabria hand," the elbow of the other arm even creates the bulge of the Marche region.


  So what about the bulging hand, you ask?  Cleverly enough, if the newsboy is flipped downwards, the hand becomes the Calabria region, the elbow still forms the Marche region, and the arch of the whole body still forms the Italian peninsula.  It works either way.


So the Piazza d'Italia is strongly referenced in the image, but where does that get us?


  Time to take a look at a few more unexplained features of the clock in Image 7!

  • There are two arrows starting at the face mask and going in opposite directions around the circle to end up at either end of "PRESERVATION." 
  • Because the mask isn't centered directly at the bottom of the clock, the two curves formed by the arrows are of different lengths, one long and one short.
  • The outer ring has gray boxes at 45, 135, and 270 degrees, but it has a narrow black box at 90 degrees.
  • Most importantly, the spacing between the thin lines that cross the outer ring isn't consistent.  It also isn't symmetrical on the two sides.


  If these features were consistent and/or symmetrical, they could just be decorations on the clock face.  The fact that they are not consistent (despite being very sharp and clear) makes it almost certain that they are clues.


We don't yet know exactly how to interpret the outer ring, but we can make some reasonable guesses:

  • The arrows are probably telling us to go in a certain direction.
  • Because the arrows start on either side of the mask, we are probably meant to start on either side of where the concentric circles are interrupted in the Piazza.  That means starting on Lafayette Street and on South Peters Street.
  • The lines form curves around the clocks, but we obviously aren't expected to curve through the downtown area.  We are supposed to go in straight lines along streets.
  • If the short, narrow lines are streets we cross along our route, then the gray and black boxes probably indicate turns.
  • Puzzles in The Secret seem to emphasize the exploration of neighborhoods on foot.  If that's still the case here, we don't need to worry about which way we go down one-way streets. We are meant to make this journey by walking along the route.


  That's a lot of assumptions and any or all of them could be wrong.  But if those interpretations are correct, we have two sets of directions:


  • Short Arrow Route (clockwise): Start mid-block, cross two streets, turn at the third street, cross four more streets, PRESERVATION.
  • Long Arrow Route (counterclockwise): Start mid-block, cross two streets, turn at the third street, cross two more streets, turn at the sixth street, cross two more streets, turn at the ninth street, PRESERVATION.


The key thing to keep in mind is that any outcome from these hypotheses needs to meet two criteria:

  • The two paths do not need to end up at exactly the same place, but they need to both end up at what could reasonably be called a single destination.
  • The point where the paths take us needs to have some strong and clear connection to the word "preservation."


  The map at right shows what seems to be the only way that the two routes around the clock face can end up at the same city block.


  We start at the Piazza and only count streets and avenues (not "places," which are more like alleys):

  • Short Arrow Route (blue line) starts at the American Italian Cultural Center on South Peters.  It crosses Poydras and Natchez, takes a left on Gravier, and crosses Tchoupitoulas, Magazine, Camp, and St. Charles.
  • Long Arrow Route (green line) starts at the main gateway to the Piazza, where Commerce St. intersects Lafayette.  It crosses Tchoupitoulas and Constance, turns right on Magazine, crosses Poydras and Natchez, takes a left on Gravier, and crosses Camp and St. Charles, and takes a right on Carondelet.


  Both routes begin at the Piazza, where the circles are interrupted.  The routes diverge and then come back together on two sides of the block where the St. Charles Hotel once stood.




True, the routes above are not perfect.  It would have been better if the distances between the thin lines in the clock rim represented the differing lengths of the city blocks along the way.  It would have been better if a black square meant a left turn and a gray square meant a right turn (or vice versa).  And it's not clear why the green route takes us around the corner onto Carondelet when the St. Charles Hotel only occupied the opposite end of the block.  Maybe the routes need a little tweaking.  But they still – generally – seem to fit.


8) Here is a sovereign people

9) Who build palaces to shelter

10) Their heads for a night!


  These three lines originally appeared in Travels in the United States in 1847 by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento of Argentina, when the author was describing a hotel in New Orleans:


"The Saint Charles, which lifted its proud head above the surrounding hills and woods, the Saint Charles, which had called up my memory of Saint Peter's in Rome, was no more than a hotel! Here is the sovereign people who build palaces to shelter their heads for a night! Here is the religion which is dedicated to man as man, and here the marvels of art are lavished on the glorification of the masses." 


  In the modern era of the internet, these lines from Verse 2 were quickly matched to their original source, but there wasn't any internet in 1980 and Preiss must have intended for this to be a fairly hard clue.  Only after solving everything else and following the two paths to the intersection of Gravier and St. Charles would searchers be prompted to research the history of that particular site.  Finding the description of the St. Charles Hotel would then be a very powerful confirmation that the searchers were on the right track. 



St. Charles Hotel, artist not credited [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



  The word "PRESERVATION" at the top of the clock, coupled with the flared, bluish-purple sleeve on the werewolf, has always seemed like a very strong clue towards Preservation Hall jazz club in New Orleans.


  It seems likely, however, that the connection between "PRESERVATION" and Preservation Hall is a deliberate red herring and the clue actually refers to the need for historic preservation of older, significant buildings.


(Source: Preservation in Print, April 2015)


  The St. Charles Hotel was torn down just a few years before Preiss visited, in what was seen as a major loss of historic architecture.  So, after leading his readers through New Orleans to this spot and giving them a description of how magnificent the building had been, Preiss had nothing to show them but a plain, vacant lot being used as a parking lot.  And the message of that message of that experience would be clear: Preservation!  (As in, "preserve important bits of American architecture").





Note the way the Superdome dominated the skyline from the Central Business District, like an enormous white moon rising in the sky.

  It's unlikely that Byron Preiss was a regular reader of Preservation in Print, but — as mentioned above — we can guess that he was a subscriber and regular reader of the New York Times.  And, once again, the architectural critic Paul Goldberger comes into the picture.  A 1975 Goldberger article in the Times reported on the loss of historic buildings in New Orleans and tied that loss directly to the Superdome:


"The buildings began to go in the early nineteen–seventies, largely in response to development pressures released by the Superdome and by the fear of many of the city's business leaders that New Orleans, which had thus far seen almost none of the boom‐town growth of so many American cities in the nineteen‐sixties, was being passed by. Skyscrapers began to shoot up on Poydras Street, entire blocks were demolished purely to speculate against rising land values, and suddenly the essence of downtown New Orleans was gone."

"In New Orleans's central business district, one out of five buildings that stood in 1970 is gone now. Several modern skyscrapers, all of them undistinguished, break the scale. And 42 per cent of all the land, not counting streets, is vacant — much of it cleared by developers before building plans were certain and now used for parking lots."


  The article used the words "preservation" or "preservationist" ten times, showing how it was such a central theme for the area at that moment.


  The article was even illustrated with a photo taken from above the Central Business District showing the same layout we've used in solving the puzzle.  The tall, white building in the center is the Hancock Whitney Center, located on the corner of Poydras Street and St. Charles Avenue.  Lafayette Square is in the middle left (mostly hidden by the Hale Boggs Federal Building) and the site of the former St. Charles Hotel is almost visible in the middle right.  The absence of so many modern skyscrapers shows how the Superdome dominated the downtown skyline in 1980. 



So here is our final hiding spot (E).  It's the block in downtown New Orleans bounded by Gravier, Carondelet, Common, and St. Charles.






A) Superdome



B) Lafayette Street



C) Lafayette Square



D) the Piazza d'Italia



E) the site of the former St. Charles Hotel
(the 200 block of St. Charles Avenue, between Common Street and Gravier Street)



For at least some portion of the 10 years between 1974 and 1984 the site of the former St. Charles Hotel was used as a parking lot.  Sometime in that same period (probably in 1980) Preiss buried his casques. Unfortunately, we only have a few photos of the relevant block from around that time.  One is the 1979 black-and-white daytime photo shown below that's from the New Orleans city archives.  (To examine the details, look at the full-size version.)  It's taken from Gravier Street looking NNE across the parking lot in the direction of Canal Street.



Amazingly, we also have a 1979 color nighttime photo showing exactly the same area but from the opposite direction.  The photo was taken by Leroy W. Demery, Jr. on 12/23/79.  The photo shows us that the parking lot was managed by Bob Himbert Parking, a company that was incorporated in 1972 and went out of business in 2002.  (It's possible that surviving members of the Himbert family might have photographs of the parking lot as it looked in 1980, but that seems like a long shot.)  Notably, both photos show what could be the same white Chevy Blazer in the lot, and the color photo shows an Ace Hardware logo.  There might have been an Ace Hardware on the edge of the parking lot, or this might just be a coincidence.


This photo shows us two other important things:

  1. the ornate, golden-brown Whitney Banks clock was in position across the street, and
  2. the parking lot sign had two long, slender arrows (one on each side) pointing into the parking lot.




Consider just how nicely Preiss set up this puzzle.  Even if searchers didn't find the connection to the Piazza, and even if they didn't understand the complicated bits about the two routes, they still had a fairly good chance of stumbling upon the right place just by chance.  A searcher who started in Lafayette Square and went for a stroll down St. Charles Avenue would surely notice the ornate Whitney Banks clock that seems so similar to Image 7.  The two long, slender arrows on the parking sign would show that this wasn't a coincidence.  And then a little investigation into the history of the parking lot would turn up the Sarmiento quote and prove that this was the right place.


So that's the solution.  Preiss took us on a walk through New Orleans, showing us some unusual and semi-unknown spots, and then he ended up at a parking lot where the St. Charles Hotel once stood.  And he put the word "PRESERVATION" in the picture to emphasize the new spirit of historic preservation that was starting to take hold at the time.  Ironically, the parking lot itself was not preserved, and so the casque was lost for eternity.



Final Location: 29°57'07.6"N 90°04'13.9"W

(Latitude: 29.952116°, Longitude:-90.070522)




Postscript: The Remaining Unsolved Clues


  The solution presented on this page only gets us to the city block where the casque was hidden.  Presumably there were additional clues in the puzzle that would have guided a searcher to the precise spot for digging.  Unfortunately, the area has been completely transformed with the construction of Place St. Charles and we haven't been able to find any good photographs showing the parking lot that existed in 1980.  So the best we can do is simply speculate about how the remaining clues might have finished the puzzle.



2) Fifteen rows down to the ground


  This second line of the verse has had various interpretations over the years.  Some people think it is a reference to steps or lines of brickwork somewhere on Lafayette Street.  But nothing seems to be a distinctive match and we already have plenty of Lafayette clues already.


  It seems more likely that this might have referred to some feature of the parking lot at the site of the former St. Charles Hotel.  Maybe there were 15 rows of cars leading up to the hiding spot.  Or maybe there was a pole or something with 15 stripes.  Unless we find a good photo showing the details of the lot, we may never have a strong match for this one.



11) Gnomes admire

12) Fays delight

13) The namesakes meeting

14) Near this site.


  These four lines at the end of the verse specifically reference "this site" and they come after the confirmation of the spot at the former hotel.  So it seems certain that the message relates to the final spot.


  The use of "namesakes" suggests that we are looking for things that share the same names as gnomes and fays but may not be otherwise related to them at all.  There may have been some business in the area with a name beginning "Greater New Orleans..." (so that the initials would spell out GNOME).  There may have been a cafe or bar called "Fay's."  Phone books might help with these lines of inquiry.


  "Gnome" might also have meant something further down St. Charles Avenue in the direction of Canal Street.  In that case, "Fay" would have been Lafayette Square and the two would be meeting on St. Charles near the site of the former hotel.



  There is no clear interpretation for the "19" in the upper left corner. The "9" is nudged slightly upwards, as if to set it apart from the "1" and indicate that these are two separate digits, rather than a single two-digit number.  Given the location, these are most likely to be hints about numbered parking spaces or about an intersection between the first column and the ninth row.



  There's also no clear explanation for the ornate styling on the clock hands.  The two circles look very much like dials on a meter.  (Parking meter?  Gas meter?)  The fact that these designs are at the center of the clock suggests that they are the bullseye Aha Image meant to confirm the final hiding spot.




Comments (18)

Oregonian said

at 4:33 pm on Mar 5, 2019

Today is Mardi Gras, so I might as well post a reminder: Somebody out there somewhere must have a photo of the parking lot that was located at the site of the former St. Charles Hotel.

The hotel was torn down in 1974 and the Place St. Charles was built on the same spot in 1984. But, in that ten-year span when the space was used for parking and when Byron Preiss set up his puzzle, there were annual Mardi Gras parades passing by on St. Charles Avenue. Thousands of people must have stood near that spot taking photographs. If we ever find those pictures, we may be able to solve the remaining clues and put this puzzle to bed.

RLee Waldron said

at 7:06 pm on Mar 8, 2019

Place St. Charles took many years to build, and was fenced off in the interim. It was probably under construction at the time Preiss visited New Orleans.

Oregonian said

at 7:37 pm on Mar 8, 2019

Believe me, I'd love to see someone do a little digging into the historical records to pin down those dates. It shouldn't be too hard. The parking lot was a commercial business, so it must have had permits and business listings and so forth. And the construction of the tower would have had a huge amount of paperwork listing when everything would happen. All of that stuff must be in the New Orleans city archives. Unfortunately though, we don't know exactly when Preiss visited New Orleans. All we can say is that it must have been at least six months before the book was published, so Palencar had time to paint a picture. I don't think Preiss could have buried any of the casques later than 1980.

Thanks to Kang, we have a picture showing the site of the St. Charles Hotel when it was operating as a parking lot, and the picture is dated 1979. Preiss might have visited around that time or he might have buried the casque up to a year later. So, yeah, it would be better to also have a picture of the same parking lot from 1980 or 1981 but – based on the evidence that's currently available – it seems likely that the parking lot was still in operation when the casque was buried. (If anyone can add to our info, please do so!)

Kang said

at 9:36 pm on Mar 8, 2019

Anytime. Always happy to share pictures I've found if it will help someone. Speaking of which Oregonian, I'm still sitting on one that would be helpful for your St Augustine solution. But haven't been able to post it since you still have both the Image 6 and Image 6 Verse 9 Solution pages locked. Posted a request to you on the Front Page months ago letting you know about it and asking if you would unlock one of those pages so I can comment and give you the pic. But alas, that comment has disappeared. As will this one, because it is not about I7V2. But I have little choice as I literally can't comment on the page this comment is supposed to go on.... Ah, the irony.

Linda S said

at 11:57 am on May 20, 2019

just came back from walking around nola.. thinking couple different things about this solve.. if this verse is correct, then i am going with middle of 21 means 11, 11th ward which is the French Quarter.. the clock arch, resembles that are of the French market.. us mint near by, gnome and faeries like gold and silver...what a better area.. then my other thought after i got on the plane home was the verse 7 fit very well and easy. moves where the casque would be buried.

Robert said

at 12:04 pm on May 20, 2019

11th Ward is uptown primarily Garden District. VCD would be wards 4,5 and 6 from Canal to Esplanade.

Linda S said

at 1:44 pm on May 20, 2019

ahh thanks for the info. as I am learning of wards, but still think it stands for the 11th ward. and what does VCD stand for?

Robert said

at 2:06 pm on May 20, 2019

View Carre' District = French Quarter
Take a look at the wikipedia for the wards: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wards_of_New_Orleans
And this map shows them pretty well in respect to the neighborhoods: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wards_of_New_Orleans#/media/File:New_Orleans_Wards_1-11_Augustus_Mitchell_map.jpg
Most of the 11th is cut off but a small piece can be on the FAR left near the top.
Parts of 4-6 make up the FQ/VCD, with the Marigny to the right and "lower 9th" (made famous during Katrina). To the left is downtown, uptown plus...
Here's a good reference for the neighborhoods: https://www.nola.com/300/2017/07/where_yat_good_question_a_hist.html

Indigoone said

at 10:48 pm on Oct 13, 2019

I just don't understand why visual confirmations in the painting aren't as strong as the the two previously solved paintings. I'm left constantly feeling like we missed something somewhere.

skeller@... said

at 7:59 am on Oct 15, 2019

It all depends on what you are looking for. Keep it simple the reward was only around a thousand dollars so the clues are not that cryptic.

Oregonian said

at 8:57 am on Jun 9, 2021

My impression is that the strongest images matches are always saved for a spot very near where the casque was buried. In Chicago it was the fencepost and in Cleveland it was the planter. In the very unlikely event that we ever find photos of the parking lot in New Orleans, we may be able to see some equally strong matches for Image 7. It might be some stripes painted on the asphalt with the numbers "1" and "9" slightly offset. Or it might be a meter of some kind, to match those two dials in the middle of the clock face. Whatever it is (or was), we didn't miss those clues. They just disappeared long ago.

Lee Jones said

at 12:18 am on Jun 10, 2021

I live in Louisiana, so the New Orleans casque is constantly on my mind.
I know the assumption is that Byron buried it in the now-gone parking lot, but I'm wondering if perhaps the Gnome and Fay might have been pointing to a location near to the parking lot, but not IN the parking lot itself. They're two such specific references... I wonder if Fay might be a person's name.
Everyone assumes it references Fairies, but that should be spelled Fae, with an e, not typically with a y.
It might be enlightening if a check of businesses in the area in 1980 might turn up a Fay's Cafe, or some such.
Did folks in 1980 already know that the parking lot was going to be turned into Place St. Charles?

Lee Jones said

at 2:44 am on Jun 10, 2021

Of course, on second check, he did spell it with a Y elsewhere. I still wonder if it might be a person's name.
I see on closer checking that the possibility it might have been a business named Fay's was already mentioned above, and my bad for missing that.
I'm just not entirely convinced it was buried in the parking lot, but rather somewhere nearby in the same area.
Could "15 rows down to the ground" in fact mean move away from the lot 15 steps or 15 feet?
Or a staircase with 15 steps.
Grasping at straws, sadly.
In all likelihood I suppose it was in the parking lot, but there's so much about that particular end spot that feels off to me.
For one, I assume the parking lot would have been fully paved, so Byron would have needed to find a free patch of dirt.

Lee Jones said

at 2:50 am on Jun 10, 2021

Also, knowing whether or not it was common knowledge in 1980 that the parking lot was going to be dug up and a 53-story building built there would go a long way, too.
I have to assume Byron did research into his chosen hiding places, so if information about pending construction on the site could be readily accessed in 1980, I can't see that he would have knowingly hid it in a spot that was due to have construction start in a little over a year.

Oregonian said

at 11:31 am on Jun 10, 2021

I totally agree that it would useful to know if there were any publicly-announced plans for the 200 block of St. Charles in 1980. If you're anywhere near New Orleans, please take a few hours to visit the city archives in the New Orleans Public library! They have a vast amount of historical information related to businesses and construction but very little of it is online, so we need someone to go in person and work with an archivist. The only thing I've found from searching their site is a 1982 record for a "Foundation Plan" for Place St. Charles. The permit number was 45143 and the architect was E. C. Mathes. http://archives.nolalibrary.org/~nopl/plans/blueprints_s.htm

One thing we know for sure is that the owners of the property didn't wait to finalize their plans before tearing down the St. Charles Hotel in 1974. They were in a rush to get ahead of a moratorium on demolitions that was passed that same year by the city council. If you look at the "Preservation in Print" article cited above, the 1973 idea was to build a new hotel on that spot. Obviously, those plans fell through. So it wouldn't surprise me if the land was just "in limbo" whenever Preiss visited in 1980 or 1981.

Linda S said

at 12:58 pm on Jun 23, 2021

so we know that Byron went to Comic Con in SF and other Cities, it would only make sense he went to the ones here also, bringing the Plaza into play, I always like this area and have found some connections also. great job Oregonian

Apple Senpie said

at 8:34 pm on Jul 26, 2021

Does "15 rows to the ground" refer to the fact that Lafayette Square is roughly 15m above sea level? I know it's a weird way of wording "above sea level", but it would be a way for the line to work with lines 3 & 4 also pointing to Lafayette square.

Also, I'm still working on a theory about the gnomes and fay, but it has to do with the 1878 Knights of Momus parade float based on "Rapp, the Gnome King", a short story from the 1876 book "The Catskill Fairies." I started typing it here, but I realized I still need to do some research about how it would actually connect to a location of the casque.

Speaking of which, should we be looking at the route as a "parade", considering the prominence of the mask in the image, or is that looking too much into it?

Percy Walters said

at 3:23 am on Jun 8, 2023

This is probably one of the one of the few solves that I don't agree with anything on but that's ok it happens. There is a lot of good misdirection in the painting and poem but ultimately New Orleans is known as the Big Easy and I beleive that Byron made it easy once you see past the illusions, I have it in City Park.

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