I often get contacted about the New Orleans Street Tiles because I use the design elements in some art and some T-shirts. I also have made some similar ceramic tiles based on the orginals I sell on the web that can be used decoratively. A lot of people want the original tiles so they can spell out their names with them in their home. Several artists do stylized paintings and signs mostly out of hardboard and acrylic. My ceramic tiles are made with a heat transfer process and are suitable for decorative purposes. The orginal old tiles used for street names are very durable. They are called ‘Encaustic tiles’. Encaustic tiles are unglazed, the design is not painted on with dyes or minerals, but dry or dust pressed from clays. Most ceramic tiles are surface decorated by painting or embossed designs created by a mold. Encaustic tiles are stronger in that their designs are inlaid and baked in the tile. The original tile company, believed to be The American Encaustic Tile Company of Ohio and New York was in operation from 1875 until 1935, closing with the depression. Several art tile companies do make decorative tiles now and a local ceramic shop hand paints letters on tile blanks the size of the originals and fires them. Most are not encaustic tiles but painted ceramic tiles that do not wear as long. There is a Spanish company that still makes similar blue lettered tiles but I do not know what company imports them now.
Here is a link to the New Orleans Street tile designs I sell on the web: http://www.cafepress.com/figstreetstudio/434932
Blue Tile Shirt
Blue Tile Hat
PS- As we who live in the City know sidewalks are the responsibility of the homeowner. Any repairs done to streets by contractors though should be repaird by the contarctor. The City does not stock or know much about the old tiles. A clause in most re-construction contracts requires the tiles be saved or replaced. The problem is the tiles are no longer available so contractors buy look a like tiles fired by local shops that are not as durable nor as good looking as the originals. The recent repairs to magazine and Fountainbleu used the look a like tiles not the originals.