It’s usually incredibly hot here in New Orleans in July. That’s why Essence Fest is an indoor event, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. For those who want to get out, the lakefront’s been the go-to place for generations.

The West End Grand Military Orchestra, 1890. New Orleanians would take the West End rail line (it was still a steam train in 1890), and make a day of it.

By the time of this photo in 1901, folks took the streetcar out to West End, and enjoyed this re-built bandstand and dance pavillion.

Jeff Covey

Two charming young ladies, picnicking at West End Park, 1951. The streetcar had been replaced by bus service in 1948. (photo courtesy flickr user Jeff Covey)

West End itself is still a hot mess, nine years on after Katrina, but there’s still a lot of space out along Lakeshore drive for your bbq. Happy 4th!