Gap Bridge was also known as the Bucktown Bridge.

gap bridge

“The Gap Bridge” by Jeanette Boutall Ouest, via THNOC

West End from Bucktown

The “Gap Bridge,” captured in a watercolor painting by Jeanette Boutall Woest, 17-November-1968. Here’s the record entry from THNOC

View of the wooden Gap Bridge in about 1915 bordered by Bruning’s (labeled John C. Bruning above sign) on the left, Martin’s Green House in the background on the right, and the White House (labeled Theodore Bruning above sign) in the foreground on the right.

By the time I was a kid in the 1960s, the Gap Bridge was known colloquially as the “Bucktown Bridge” It was the path of access to the West End restaurant/entertainment area from the East Jefferson side. Coming from Orleans Parish, one went up the start of Lakeshore Drive to Lake Marina Drive to W. Roadway.

Lakefront escapes

West End offered an escape from the heat of the city for over a century. Beginning in the 1860s, locals and visitors alike headed out to Lake Pontchartrain. There were three main entertainment districts along the lake: Milneburg (at the end of the Pontchartrain Railroad), Spanish Fort (at the mouth of Bayou St. John), and West End (at the end of the New Canal). Hotels, restaurants, casinos, and music venues opened in all three locations. They were great overnight/weekend getaway possibilities.

Getting to West End

The New Orleans City Railroad Company (operators of the mule-drawn incarnations of the Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue streetcar lines) provided steam train service from Canal and Rampart Streets out to West End. When streetcars switched to electric operation in the 1890s, so did the West End line.

As “Bucktown” in Jefferson Parish grew, the parish constructed the bridge to cover the “gap” between West End and Bucktown. While the present “gap” is the 17th Street Canal, things were different in the early 1900s. The “Metairie Pumping Station,” also known as Station 6, stood near Metairie Road. The canal extended north from there, but it fizzled out into swampy land from there. So, the “gap” was more marsh than a real waterway. The bridge crossed that marsh. Later, as the parish and USACE modernized the lake end of the canal, the bridge still connected the parish.

The restaurants

Three restaurants are visible in Ouest’s painting. On the left stands Bruning’s, operated by John C. Bruning. On the right are the Green House and White House. The restaurants on the right were long gone by the 1960s, but Bruning’s remained until the 1990s.

Fate of the Gap Bridge

The USACE demolished the bridge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

 

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