Podcast #2 – “A Streetcar Named Desire”

Podcast #2 – “A Streetcar Named Desire”

NOPSI 830 on Bourbon at St. Peter, 1947. (Courtesy the Thelma Hecht Coleman Memorial Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries)

NOPSI 830 on Bourbon at St. Peter, 1947. (Courtesy the Thelma Hecht Coleman Memorial Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries)

This weekend is the annual Tennessee Williams Festival, and tomorrow will be the festival’s “Stella” yelling contest, conjuring the spirit of “Streetcar Named Desire” in the streets of New Orleans. “Desire” was a metaphor to Williams, but the Desire streetcar line was real, and an important route, tying the Upper Ninth Ward to the rest of the city.

Show notes:

Signbox for a 900-series arch roof streetcar. "DESIRE" sign made for the box by Earl Hampton.

Signbox for a 900-series arch roof streetcar. “DESIRE” sign made for the box by Earl Hampton.

Desire!

Tennessee Williams (courtesy of Hotel Monteleone)

Tennessee Williams (courtesy of Hotel Monteleone)

Tennessee Williams, relaxing at the Hotel Monteleone, 1950s.

dirty coast

River – Lake – Uptown – Downtown by Dirty Coast

Buy this t-shirt from Dirty Coast and you’ll get oriented quickly.

desire line 1920

Route of the Desire line, 1920-1923

Desire Line route, 1920-1923. Dark = outbound, Light = inbound

desire line 1923-1948

Route of the Desire line, 1923-1948

Desire Line route, 1920-1923. Dark = outbound, Light = inbound

vivien leigh streetcar

Vivien Leigh in “A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951 (video screnshot)

“Why, they told me to take a streetcar named Desire and then transfer to one called Cemetery and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields.”

722 Toulouse Street

722 Toulouse Street

When Tennessee Williams arrived in New Orleans in 1938, he took a room here, at 722 Toulouse Street. Now it’s the offices of the Historic New Orleans Collection. WGNO “News with a Twist” did a great spot on the house this week.

royal street 1951

Royal Street in Faubourg Marigny, 1951 (Franck photo courtesy HNOC)

The streetcar tracks are gone in this 1951 photo of Royal Street in the Marigny, but it’s a good idea of what riders of the Desire line saw on their way into town.

Looking down N. Tonti at Pauline Street, 1947 (Franck photo courtesy HNOC)

Looking down N. Tonti at Pauline Street, 1947 (Franck photo courtesy HNOC)

Looking up N. Tonti at Pauline Street, 1946 (Franck photo courtesy HNOC)

Looking up N. Tonti at Pauline Street, 1946 (Franck photo courtesy HNOC)

Two views of the Upper Ninth Ward from 1946 and 1947. These shots of N. Tonti Street at Pauline are a good illustration of the houses and buildings in the neighborhood serviced by the Desire line.

NORTA 29

NORTA 29, the last Ford, Bacon, and Davis streetcar. (Edward Branley photo)

The first streetcars to run on the Desire line were single-truck Ford, Bacon, and Davis cars. NORTA 29 (ex-NOPSI 29) is the last FB&D streetcar.

nopsi 888 on desire

NOPSI 888, running on the Desire Line, 1947 (Franck photo courtesy HNOC)

The 800- and 900-series arch roof streetcars operated on the Desire line from 1923, until its discontinuance in 1948.

nopsi bus desire line

NOPSI Bus on Dauphine, 1954 (Franck photo courtesy HNOC)

The streetcar tracks were ripped up in 1948, and “A Bus Named Desire” took over bringing commuters to and from the Ninth Ward to Canal Street.

streetcars of new orleans

The Streetcars of New Orleans, by Hennick and Charlton, 1964 (amazon link)

The Streetcars of New Orleans by Hennick and Charlton – the authoritative reference on New Orleans streetcars to 1964

streetcars hampton

The Streetcars of New Orleans, 1964 – Present by Earl Hampton (amazon link)

Earl Hampton’s book, The Streetcars of New Orleans, 1964-Present, picks up where Hennick and Charlton leave off.

My book, New Orleans, The Canal Streetcar Line. Amazon Link | Signed Copies here.

Wakin’ Bakin’ on Banks Street in Mid City

hnoc

The Historic New Orleans Collection 

Desire on Bourbon, 1947

Desire on Bourbon, 1947

NOPSI 830 on Bourbon at St. Peter, 1947. (Courtesy the Thelma Hecht Coleman Memorial Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries)

NOPSI 830 on Bourbon at St. Peter, 1947. (Courtesy the Thelma Hecht Coleman Memorial Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries)

This is a great image of an 800-series arch roof streetcar. Running on the Desire line, 830 is at Bourbon and St. Peter. The LOUIS record says it’s a photo shot for LIFE magazine in 1958. but there’s a problem with that. The Desire line transitioned to bus service in 1948!

To focus on the actual date of this image, let’s look at the ad on the streetcar. NOPSI 830 celebrates the 25th anniversary of WWL-AM Radio (870). The station was founded in 1922, so its 25th was in 1947.

The story of the Desire line is fascinating, and will be the subject of our next NOLA History Guy Podcast.

Union Station – New Orleans

Screenshot from 2015-10-24 09:34:32

Entrance to the passenger waiting room for white passengers, Union Station, New Orleans, 1948. Jim Crow laws allowed whites to separate themselves from African-Americans, both on the trains and in the stations. The Franck Studios caption on the print says “So. Pacific RR Co”. Southern Pacific’s Sunset Limited train operated from Union Station, as did the Illinois Central’s City of New Orleans and Panama Limited trains.

Screenshot from 2015-10-24 09:36:10

Exterior shot of Union Station. HNOC note says this is from 1941, but that date is too early. That’s Union Passenger Terminal behind Union Station. Construction on UPT did not begin until 1950. The new station opened in 1954, at which time Union Station was torn down.

Godchaux’s on Canal Street

roosevelt_1946

 

From 1946, an ad in the Roosevelt Hotel’s in-house produced guest magazine. When I was working on my book, New Orleans Jazz, I went through several years’ worth of this magazine, in the hopes of finding music/band pictures. I ended up finding a bunch of cool ads instead!

Godchaux’s (not to be confused with Goudchaux’s, the Baton Rouge chain that eventually bought out Maison Blanche) was a mainstay of Canal Street retailing. I’ll bet my heel-wearing friends would like those two pairs!