Before home and commercial refrigeration was widespread, folks made groceries at the neighborhood’s public market. So, these markets were all over the city of New Orleans. The Prytania Market was located on Prytania Street. It was between Upperline and Lyons. By the 1910s, the neighborhood grew to the point where folks didn’t want to walk to the markets surrounding them.
Public markets were the “stores” for “truck farmers”. These folks farmed the land out in Kenner and Little Farms (now River Ridge). Initially, they traveled in from Kenner via horse-drawn wagon. In 1915, the Orleans-Kenner Railroad line opened. The “O-K” was the metro area’s only true interurban railroad line. The farmers loaded up their crops onto these electric cars, which had a lot of open cargo space. They arrived at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne. Usually they enlisted a relative or a friend with a wagon to get them from the O-K station to one or more of the public markets. These farmers got the name “truck farmers” when they bought trucks to get into town.Therefore, the O-K interurban was no longer useful. The line closed in 1930.
The public markets were essentially just open-air stalls. While some markets occupied enclosed buildings, others, like Prytania, were completely open. There was no electricity at this time. So the city monitored sanitary conditions, through their franchisees. While seafood vendors did sell at the markets, their sales were prohibited in the summer. The fish and shellfish didn’t stay fresh in the heat.
From 1915 to the 1940s, the farmers selling at the Prytania Market worked at the building in the photo above. The city owned many of the public markets, including this one. City government franchised them out to business owners and management companies. So, in 1923, the city awarded the Prytania franchise to Charles F. Buck, Jr.
The market building was expanded/improved by architect Sam Stone Jr.’s firm in 1922. Stone was was a well-known architect. He designed the 13-story Maison Blanche building. It’s now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
In 1938, the city contracted Stone’s firm again, to re-design the Prytania Market. The building above operated through the 1940s and 1950s. So, supermarkets arrived. They changed the way we made groceries. The public markets became obsolete. The city demolished the Prytania Market. The property is now a small public park.
New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line
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.