new orleans riverfront

New Orleans Riverfront, 1840

Research Distractions

While researching a document posted by LaRC on Facebook, I sort of went down a rabbit hole, and found this engraving of the New Orleans Riverfront. It’s a charming illustration from an article in the American Jewish Archives Journal. The caption in the article is “New Orleans, ca 1840.” The title of the article I pulled up is, Cotton, Capital, and Ethnic Networks: Jewish Economic Growth in the Postbellum Gulf South by Michael R. Cohen.

I’m sure others end up down these oooh-shiny rabbit holes as well. I started out looking at a bill of lading for bales of cotton and end up reading about a Jewish cotton factor who was a leader in the community. Any connection to the city’s Jewish community naturally leads me back to looking for connections to the Krauss family, for my book on their department store. One thing to another to another and I’m through the looking glass.

The New Orleans Riverfront, antebellum

Not that I’m complaining, mind you, this is a lovely little engraving. The illustrator is on the west bank of the river, looking back at the city. The spires are a bit indistinct. The one on the left could be St. Patrick’s. The number of churches visible indicates this is a view that is uptown from Canal Street. I’ll edit this post after I put it up on the ATNM group, to see if anyone can make more sense of those church spires than I.

The traffic on the river is a typical mix. on the left, heading downriver, is a small schooner. In the middle of the river (and the engraving) is a flatboat. He appears to be going upriver, but it’s more likely that the boat is trying to simply cross the river. The current would make it difficult for such a craft to travel far upriver, so the man on the tiller is likely trying to make his way from one side to the other. The main ship in the scene is a two-masted brig. This is a typical sort of ship you would see making coastal runs along the Gulf Coast, to Havana, and possibly up to Baltimore or New York. On the right side, we see several vessels at anchor on the west bank.