800 Canal Street: So long Feibelman’s, hello Gus Mayer

800 Canal Street: So long Feibelman’s, hello Gus Mayer

800 Canal Street

800 Canal Street

The corner of Carondelet and Canal, January 12, 1949. The old Pickwick Hotel building is gone. The New Gus Mayer building replaces it. The Pickwick Hotel gets its name from the Pickwick Club. The club is a private social club that was closely associated with the Mystic Krewe of Comus carnival organization. The building went from hotel to department store in 1897. The 800 block of Canal Street has long been a significant part of New Orleans’ retail scene.

Leon Fellman and Company

In the 1890s, the two main tenants of the Mercier Building at 901 Canal Street (corner Canal and Dauphine) were dry goods stores owned by Simon Shwarz and Leon Fellman. In 1897, Simon Schwarz pitched a concept for New Orleans’ first department store to his father-in-law, Isidore Newman. Newman bought into the idea. As a result, he put up the money to back Schwarz’s concept. All Simon had to do was acquire the entire building. He succeeded, at the expense of his competitor, Leon Fellman. Fellman split with his brother in 1892, leaving the shop they owned in the Touro Buildings (the block of Canal between Royal and Bourbon Streets). Leon opened his own store with a junior partner. They did well in the 900 block, right up until Schwarz got them evicted. Fellman received notice in March of 1897 that he had to be out by October.

Move to The Pickwick

While the Pickwick Club sold the hotel years before, the name stuck. Fellman negotiated with the current owners to convert the building into retail space. He held a going-out-of-business sale over the summer of 1897, and opened on the other side of the street. While Schwarz’s Maison Blanche was flashier than Leon Fellman’s, the latter store offered quality merchandise at discount prices. Fellman rolled with the change.

Fellman to Feibelman

When Leon Fellman passed away in 1920, his family changed the name of the store from Fellman’s to Feibelman’s. Leon Fellman came to the United States from Germany as Lippman Feibelman. The family operated the store as Feibelman’s on Canal Street until 1931. They moved the store to Baronne and Common that year. In 1936, the family sold their stores to Sears, Roebuck, and Company.

Gus Mayer

With Feibelman’s now around the corner, the Pickwick Hotel building became Stein’s Department Store. So, after WWII, Gus Mayer wanted to open on Canal Street, but wasn’t interested in the time and expense involved in renovating the 800 Canal building. Gus Mayer purchased the property and demolished the building. Construction began in January, 1949. The Gus Mayer Building is still there. It’s a CVS Drugstore now.

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store
by Edward J. Branley

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

800 Block Canal Street, 1864

800 Block Canal Street, 1864

800 Block Canal Street

800 block canal street

800 Block Canal Street in 1864. W.D. Mcpherson photo.

800 block Canal Street – Shopping!

The Canal Streetcar line is about three years old at the time of this photo. None of the mule-drawn, “bobtail” streetcars appear here. The greenery on the sides of the Canal Street neutral ground isn’t grown-out yet, so the tracks are visible.

The photographer, William D. Mcpherson, is upstairs in a building in the block between Carondelet Street and St. Charles Avenue. That’s Christ Episcopal in the top left, at the corner of Canal and Dauphine. It’s only seven years old in that photo. It’s the second church the congregation built, moving to Dauphine from Bourbon when Judah Touro made them an offer they couldn’t refuse for their location at Canal and Bourbon.

The anchor on the block is Daniel Henry Holmes’ dry goods store. It was twenty-four years old in this photo. D. H. Holmes wouldn’t become a full-blown “department store” for another forty years, but the Irishman already made his mark on Canal Street by the 1860s. Shopping on Canal Street wouldn’t go further up Canal for another 20 years, and wouldn’t reach the end of the French Quarter until the 1900s, with Krauss Department Store. 

Street Addresses

The addresses on the stores in the photo follow the “old” pattern for Canal Street. Rather than go by blocks (100, 200, 300), buildings were numbered individually at this time. So, D. H. Holmes was 155 Canal, James Ryback, importer, was at 149, J.A. daRocha & Co. at 147 Canal. A dress and cloak maker, Mrs. Charles Brown, was at 145 Canal.

By June of 1864, New Orleans was two years under Union occupation. The blockade of the United States Navy was long over. Trade and commerce coming in through the port was back in full swing. While the city was unable to move goods out of New Orleans because of the war, the city no longer suffered from being cut off from the rest of the world. The well-documented tensions between the Union army and the locals were in full swing, but the immigrant laborers who worked along the river were back at work.

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

800 block canal street

The clanging of a streetcar’s bell conjures images of a time when street railways were a normal part of life in the city. Historic Canal Street represents the common ground between old and new with buses driving alongside steel rails and electric wires that once guided streetcars.

New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.

American Standard Gentilly: Warplanes to Plumbing

American Standard Gentilly: Warplanes to Plumbing

American Standard Gentilly: Manufacturing

American Standard Gentilly

1944 Times Picayune photo of the Consolidated plant in Gentilly

When the United States entered World War II, New Orleans stepped up immediately. The Lakefront became the nexus of war manufacturing. Higgins Industries and Consolidated Aircraft (now Convair) led the way. The US Navy built a Naval Air Station on the lakefront, in MIlneburg. Therefore, it made sense to build aircraft manufacturing near the base. Gentilly  was about the PBY.

American Standard Gentilly – Warplanes

American Standard Gentilly

The last PBY built in Gentilly

The Consolidated Aircraft Company built seaplanes for the US Navy in WWII Gentilly. As the war went on, other planes were built at the lakefront facility, but the PBY scout planes were the plant’s big product.

American Standard Gentilly

Recruiting for Consolidated during WWII

WWII Gentilly needed workers! Not only did New Orleanians rise to the challenge, they moved out to the neighborhood. Living close to work was easy in Gentilly. Many families built homes in the area during the war. So, after the war, Gentilly experienced a serious housing boom. Men and women coming home from the war saw the area as a great area to start their families.

After the war

While the PBY was an important part of the Navy’s push forward in the Pacific, there just wasn’t the same need for the search planes. Consolidated closed the plant. WWII Gentilly needed to switch to peacetime. The aircraft plant was sold to the plumbing supply company, American Standard.

American Standard Gentilly

American Standard Gentilly, 1948

American Standard Gentilly was a major contributor to the local economy into the 1980s.

American Standard Gentilly

Interior of the American Standard Gentilly plant

The plant continued going strong for almost thirty years The high-end residential neighborhood next door, Lake Oaks managed to co-exist with the manufacturing plant next door. The folks of Lake Oaks saw the amusement park, Pontchartrain Beach to be the “noisy neighbor” in the area.

American Standard Gentilly

American Standard Gentilly, 1985

In June of 1985, a fire spread throughout the facility, burning the plant to the ground.

 

American Standard Gentilly was a total loss. The charred remains of the plant were removed. The Orleans Parish Levee District re-located their “field yard” — their vehicle maintenance yard, to the site.

 

Mid-City New Orleans: MB Carrollton, 1952

Mid-City New Orleans: MB Carrollton, 1952

Mid-City New Orleans

mid-city new orleans

Shopping center at S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues, 1952

Mid-City New Orleans

Mid-City began to grow as a neighborhood in the 1860s. That’s when the New Orleans City Railroad extended the Canal Street streetcar line to the cemeteries. By the beginning of the 20th Century, the Sicilian community outgrew the French Quarter and Faubourg Treme. So, they moved to Mid-City. The New Basin Canal attracted businesses and light industry along its banks. Consequently, those businesses made the neighborhood attractive for others who didn’t need to be on the canal but benefited from the being in the neighborhood. Naturally, workers at these businesses wanted a shorter commute. So, families left the city’s “original” neighborhoods.

Therefore, by World War II, Mid-City New Orleans was an “established” neighborhood. St. Anthony of Padua Parish, on Canal and S. St. Patrick Streets, was twenty-five years old. So, the corner of  Canal Street and Carrollton Avenue was already a commercial nexus. As the war effort began to ramp up in the first half of 1942, more folks moved to Mid-City. Higgins Industries opened several plants, in Lakeview and near City Park. More families moved closer to work.

Post-War Mid-City

New Orleans enjoyed the post-war boom, like the rest of the nation. Therefore, men and women took advantage of the GI Bill to continue their educations. They built houses in the suburbs with Veterans Administration loans. The Interstate Highway System didn’t exist in the late forties. The main access to Metairie was US 61, Airline Highway. Developers knew the city planned to fill in the New Basin Canal. That meant getting to Mid-City from Jefferson Parish via Airline was even easier. Tulane Avenue connected the CBD with Mid-City, Airline Highway connected the ‘burbs with the neighborhood. A new commercial nexus was born.

Maison Blanche recognized this connection. The store’s management knew the Airline-Tulane-CBD route made it simple to get to Canal Street. While that was appealing, going to town was still a bit of a drive. Maison Blanche expanded to Mid-City New Orleans in 1948. So, they opened the store you see in this photograph. As a result, after 51 years of operation on Canal Street, Maison Blanche became a chain.

MB Carrollton sold the same merchandise as the main store. The store’s delivery network already reached out across the metro area. The second store allowed shoppers to cut back on their drive from Metairie.

Beyond Mid-City

Maison Blanche continued to expand beyond the CBD and Mid-City. D. H. Holmes followed MB, reaching out to the suburbs as well. Krauss Department Store chose not to. Krauss remained a one-store business until is closure in 1997. Maison Blanche Department Stores no longer exist. While malls dominated in the 1960s and 1970s, MB Carrollton became a budget store. The Mid-City location is now a Nike shoe/clothing outlet. The main store on Canal Street is a hotel.

mb book

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

Maison Blanche Department Stores

On October 30, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman―with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman―opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building―13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors. The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character “Mr. Bingle,” in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

The Atlantic Slave Trade – a TedEd video

The Atlantic Slave Trade – a TedEd video

The Atlantic Slave Trade

Understanding the Atlantic Slave Trade

A Facebook friend shared this TedEd video this morning. It’s clarity and frankness impressed me. This video (about five minutes long) is a great resource for classroom teachers and homeschoolers alike. If you teach History in middle school or above, add this to your lessons. This is the perfect addition to inadequate textbooks.

The Atlantic Slave Trade brought enslaved Africans to North America. One of the things folks excusing human trafficking say is, “Africans sold their own into slavery.” Yes, this is true. So, this presentation explains European involvement in the trade. African rulers sold their enemies from rival areas and tribes to the Europeans. In addition rulers profited from enslavement. It was an easy solution for refugees and prisoners of war.

New Orleans and Human Trafficking

New Orleans became a major port of entry for enslaved Africans. It wasn’t a direct part of the Atlantic Slave Trade, though. Africans died in large numbers in transit. Therefore, traffickers ran from West Africa to North America as quickly as possible. They unloaded the survivors of the passages in cities on the Atlantic coast. Additionally, they traveled to the Caribbean, Saint-Domingue or Havana. New Orleans connected the Islands to the US. As the plantation economy grew in the Deep South, slave owners in the islands moved their property to the mainland. Even though the British outlawed the slave trade in 1807, the practice continued for decades. The port of New Orleans moved many of the enslaved into the country.

Museums and Memorials

atlantic slave trade

USS Constellation, anchored in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (courtesy Flickr user sherseydc)

This video presents the background for the concept of a “slave ship museum.” In Baltimore, the USS Constellation museum recognizes the ship’s past as a slaver. So, the impact of human trafficking isn’t the main focus. Is New Orleans the right place for such a museum? Check out the video and share your thoughts.

 

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

krauss

Cover of Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store, by Edward J. Branley

The cover of the Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

And here it is! Here’s the back-cover text:

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders, and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

Krauss book drops on 25-September

I’m excited! This was a fun story to tell. So much here–Jewish retailing families, Storyville, the Creoles of Treme, transportation…even a Pontchartrain Beach connection! From Leon Fellman to the Krauss Brothers, to Leon Heymann, his son, Jimmy, grandson Jerry, Krauss was a family operation. Like many department stores, Krauss was a large extended family. Krauss to touched many people over the years.

The book chronicles the store’s how Leon Fellman decided to buy up the 1200 block of Canal Street. He built a store that the length of the block. Fellman leased that building to the Krauss brothers. They turned the building into a “veritable trade palace” whose lifetime spanned almost the entire 20th Century. Krauss rode the highs and lows of New Orleans, including two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the post-war boom years of the 1950s and 1960s. The store didn’t pop up at once, of course, growing back from Fellman’s original building. Krauss eventually filled up the entire block from Canal to Iberville Street, then the block behind that, Iberville Street to Bienville Street! The store was right in front of Storyville, right next to the train station, as well as in the hearts of many.