Louisiana and Arkansas Terminal #TrainThursday

Louisiana and Arkansas Terminal #TrainThursday

Trains for Kansas City Southern operated from the L&A Terminal South Rampart Street.

Louisiana and Arkansas Terminal

Franck Studios image of the Louisiana and Arkansas passenger terminal. The terminal stood at 705 S. Rampart, corner of Girod. It opened in 1923. Kansas City Southern took over the terminal in 1939. So, while this Alexander Allison photo is undated, it’s likely from 1940-41. What’s particularly interesting is the sign on the front. Earlier photos of the terminal don’t show the sign. The station was small, with only two tracks leading up to it. L&A operated a yard up from the station at (now) Norman C. Francis Parkway. Trains used a wye to turn around and back into the station. So, once passengers got off, trains ran up to the yard. Crews cleaned the cars and serviced the road locomotives. Switchers staged the next train on the station tracks.

 

Traffic to the terminal grew in 1928, as L&A acquired the Louisiana Navigation and Railway Company. That railroad operated from New Orleans to Shreveport. L&A inaugurated an overnight train, The Hustler, from New Orleans to Shreveport, in 1932. L&A investors started purchasing KCS in 1937. They gained control of the railroad in 1939. KCS absorbed L&A, but the subsidiary railroad remained on the books until 1992.

The Southern Belle

louisiana and arkansas terminal

1940s brochure for the Southern Belle train.

With the acquisition of L&A (although arguably it was the other way around), KCS inaugurated the Southern Belle in 1940. This “name train” ran from New Orleans to Kansas City. The Southern Belle, along with other KCS trains, operated from the L&A terminal until 1954, when all passenger operations in New Orleans moved to Union Passenger Terminal.

The corner store

Louisiana and Arkansas Terminal

Corner store at the L&A/KCS Terminal, 1930s

I’m particularly interested in the store on the corner. It stood right on the corner of S. Rampart and Girod. While the earlier Trice photo shows the store Coca-Cola branded signage, the later Allison photo shows an awning. Since the store has an external, outside entrance, it likely serviced the neighborhood. This part of S. Rampart Street, just before the turning basin of the New Canal, contained a number of Jazz nightclubs and saloons. It’s hard to make out details on this image. So, we’ll be looking for better resolution and other photos.

louisiana and arkansas terminal

Leon Trice photo of the station from the 1930s.

Like other railroad-related locations, the L&A Terminal is an ongoing research project.

 

 

 

NOLA History Guy December (9) – Legendary Local A. Baldwin Wood

NOLA History Guy December (9) – Legendary Local A. Baldwin Wood

NOLA History Guy December continues with Legendary Local A. Baldwin Wood

nola history guy december

A. Baldwin Wood (left)

 

Baldwin Wood’s story is our next for NOLA History Guy December

In 1899, A. Baldwin Wood graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Engineering. He took a job with the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board that year. Wood was more than just an engineer. He was an inventor. His signature creation was the “wood-screw pump.” That pump revolutionized drainage in New Orleans. Wood and the S&WB installed his pumps in stations across the city. While his wood-screw pumps have been replaced by modern turbines, his contributions to the city’s infrastructure and drainage strategy can’t be understated.

The caption

nola history guy december

The Melpomene Street pumping station is named for Wood

The book offers two images for Wood:

Pumps. A. Baldwin Wood (1879-1956) worked for the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, where he invented the Wood Screw Pump that revolutionized flood prevention in the city. Pumps based on Wood’s designs have been in operation for over 80 years. (Images courtesy NOPL and Carlos “Froggy” May)

 

Legendary Locals of New Orleans

nola history guy december

As mentioned earlier, Legendary Locals of New Orleans differs from the IoA books. A few years ago, a local group of school librarians invited me to speak at one of their meetings. I told them, of the books I’ve written, the one that really should be on their shelves was Legendary Locals. Think about it–a teacher assigns a project for social studies, write a report about someone notable in the city’s history. What’s the kid likely to do? Go to the school library and lay the assignment out for the librarian. Rather than simply suggest a name or two, hand the student my books. Tell them to flip through the short (100-150 word) entries on each Legendary Local. Some may pick an athlete, others a musician. There’s a wide range of personalities.

(NOTE: this book is a great gift for the library at your kid’s school. If you do that, order the hardcover edition of the book. It costs a bit more, but the librarian will appreciate it.

From the back cover:

Since its founding in 1718 by the LeMoyne brothers, New Orleans has cemented its status as one of the busiest ports on the continent. Producing many unique and fascinating individuals, Colonial New Orleans was a true gumbo of personalities. The city lays claim to many nationalities, including Spaniards Baron Carondelet, Don Andres Almonester, and French sailors and privateers Jean Lafitte and Dominique Youx. Businessmen like Daniel Henry Holmes and Isidore Newman contributed to local flavor, as did musicians Buddy Bolden, Joe “King” Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Louis Prima. War heroes include P.G.T. Beauregard and Andrew Jackson Higgins. Avery Alexander, A.P. Tureaud, and Ernest Morial paved the way for African Americans to lead the city. Kate Chopin, Lafcadio Hearn, Ellen DeGeneres, Mel Ott, Archie Manning, and Drew Brees have kept the world entertained, while chefs and restaurateurs like Leah Chase and the Brennans sharpened the city’s culinary chops. Legendary Locals of New Orleans pays homage to the notables that put spice in that gumbo.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

 

NOLA History Guy December (5) – New Orleans Jazz

NOLA History Guy December (5) – New Orleans Jazz

Our fifth installment of NOLA History Guy December features New Orleans Jazz

nola history guy december

NOLA History Guy December – Kid Ory

David Simon’s TV series for HBO, “Treme” was in its third season in the summer of 2012. When I learned the show was green-lighted for a fourth season, I pitched a book to Arcadia, “Faubourg Treme.” A couple of days later, I received an email from one of the acquisitions editors. They liked the idea, but wondered if I would be open to a project of a wider scope. I saw Treme as an important neighborhood in New Orleans history, particularly Black history. They saw Treme as the birthplace of Jazz. (Strictly speaking, it was one of the birthplaces, but we got there in the ultimate book.) So, said, sure, and began work on New Orleans Jazz.

Dutt

Edward “Kid” Ory, “Dutt” to his friends, was born in LaPlace, Louisiana. As a teen in the 1900s, he came into New Orleans on weekends to play gigs with his friends. They took the train into town, then borrow a wagon. They meandered around the city, promoting their gig for that Saturday evening. The trombone players in these bands played off the back of the wagon, the “tailgate.” That way they could work the horn’s slide without risking damage.

Here’s the caption for one of Dutt’s photos:

Tailgate. Edward “Kid” Ory (1886-1973) played banjo as a child, developing a style known as “tailgate,” where the trombone player plays rhythm, under the lead of trumpets/cornets. Originally from LaPlace, Louisiana, legend is that Buddy Bolden “discovered” the 19-year old Ory in Uptown New Orleans and brought him into the fledgling Storyville jazz scene, but his sister told Bolden her brother was too young to play the clubs. Ory did make it to Storyville in the 1910s, then moved to Los Angeles in 1919, eventually making his way to Chicago. In Chicago, he played with King Oliver, Jelly Roll, and Louis Armstrong. Ory took a long hiatus during the Great Depression, but his career enjoyed radio success from 1944-1961.

Dutt was one of the original “Creole Jazz” players. The Great Migration of Black Americans from former slave states to Northern and Western states saw many Black musicians move to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Ory played with King Oliver and Pops in Chicago, then settled in Los Angeles.

The Book

nola history guy december

New Orleans Jazz by Edward J. Branley

From the back cover:

Discover how Jazz shaped the history and enhanced the life of the citizens of New Orleans.

From the days when Buddy Bolden would blow his cornet to attract an audience from one New Orleans park to another, to the brass bands in clubs and on the streets today, jazz in New Orleans has been about simple things: getting people to snap their fingers, tap their toes, get up and clap their hands, and most importantly dance! From the 1890s to World War I, from uptown to Faubourg Treme and out to the lakefront, New Orleans embraced this uniquely American form of music. Local musicians nurtured jazz, matured it, and passed it on to others. Some left the city to make their names elsewhere, while others stayed, playing the clubs, marching in the parades, and sending loved ones home with jazz funerals. Older musicians mentored younger ones, preserving the traditions that give New Orleans such an exciting jazz scene today.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

Vaccaro Tomb – Metairie Cemetery

Vaccaro Tomb – Metairie Cemetery

The Guiseppe Vaccaro tomb stands on Metairie Avenue.

vaccaro tomb

Vaccaro Tomb

Tomb of Guiseppe (Joseph) Vaccaro in Metairie Cemetery. The tomb stands on Metairie Avenue, which is part of the original “race track” section. The tomb was built in the 1920s. This Frank B. More photo is undated, but taken on the day of an interment. The Vaccaro Brothers, Guiseppe, Felix, and Luca, came to America with their father, Stefano. They started Vaccaro Brothers Company, a business to import coconuts and bananas from Honduras to New Orleans in 1899. That business later becomes the Dole Fruit Company.

Joseph built a “double” style tomb for his family. This allowed the owners to bury two family members within a year. Our law says a vault in an above-ground tomb may be re-used after a year and a day has passed since the last internment. So, if you have a double, hopefully the family doesn’t suffer extended tragedy.

Standard Fruit Company

The brothers re-organized the company as Standard Fruit Company in 1924. So, like Sam Zemurray’s United Fruit Company, the Vaccaros involved themselves in Central American Governments. They helped create the “Banana Republics.” To handle the increased volume of business, the Vaccaros bought almost every ice plant in the New Orleans area. Standard Fruit operated services to the ships transporting their bananas. They acquired their own ships in the early 1920s. The company changed its name in 1926 to Standard Fruit & Steamship Company.

Vaccaros to Dole

While the story is fascinating and we’ll come back to it, I’m just nicking this from Wikipedia, on why Dole Foods is traced back to the Vaccaros.

Standard Fruit continued operations until 1964 when it was purchased by Castle & Cooke, an agricultural and real estate company founded in 1851 by S. N. Castle and A. S. Cooke which had become one of the five largest companies operating in the Territory of Hawaii.[10] James Dole‘s Hawaiian Pineapple Company was a supplier of Castle & Cooke since 1906, and Castle & Cooke had been selling Dole branded bananas since 1927.[11] David H. Murdock bought the company in 1985 and in 1991 renamed Castle & Cooke to the Dole Food Company. Murdock split the two companies into two separate companies, Dole plc and Castle & Cooke, Inc., in 1995.[10]

The majority of the land and operations that became Dole Food Company was directly from Standard Fruit, leading to the Vaccaro brothers’ enterprise being considered the first incarnation of the Dole Food Company.[3]

So, the family faded as the company joined a conglomerate.

Thanks as always to the Earl K. Long Library at my alma mater, the University of New Orleans

Lake Vista Subdivision

Lake Vista Subdivision

Lake Vista subdivision opened in 1938.

lake vista

The Lake Vista subdivision on the Lakefront

Photo of a relief map of the proposed Lake Vista Subdivision on the New Orleans Lakefront. Caption from the WPA record:

New Orleans, 1936: “The Lakefront Development, carried on by the WPA under Levee Board sponsorship, will look like this map-relief model when completed.” Shows man looking over a diorama of the Lake Vista neighborhood.

Lake Vista was the first residential development opened on land reclaimed from Lake Pontchartrain. The subdivision encompasses the area from Marconi Drive (west), Lakeshore Drive (north), Beauregard Avenue/Bayou St. John (east), and Allen Toussaint Boulevard (south). The US Coast Guard station stood at the bayou and the lake.

First development

lake vista

Eventually, land reclamation on the Lakefront spawned five subdivisions:

  • West Lakeshore
  • East Lakeshore
  • Lake Vista
  • Lake Terrace
  • Lake Oaks

Lake Vista is sort-of towards the middle of this group, with its border along the bayou. The Orleans Levee Board developed Lake Vista first, mainly because the other sections were already in use. West Lakeshore became Lagarde Army Hospital. The US Navy built Naval Hospital New Orleans in East Lakeshore. Pontchartrain Beach occupied a significant portion of Lake Terrace at this time (the Milneburg location didn’t open until 1940).

Lake Terrace extended to the London Avenue Canal. The other side of the canal to Elysian Fields Avenue became Naval Air Station New Orleans. What would become Lake Oaks was home to Army barracks and other facilities. So, that left Lake Vista uncommitted.

Subdivision design

The basic design of the neighborhood was spoke-and-hub.. The residential streets each started on one of the edges. They moved toward the parcel’s center. That center became the hub. One Street, Spanish Fort Boulevard, was planned as a two-lane street separated by a neutral ground. All the spoke streets converged on a circular road. Inside the circle was reserved for churches, schools, and a retail development. The main tenant of that middle section became St. Pius X Church and School (Catholic).

Opening Day

Lake Vista

Times-Picayune, September 17, 1938

Opening weekend

The Levee District invited New Orleans to inspect Lake Vista on its opening weekend, 17-18 September, 1938. They published a full-page ad with lots of information on the neighborhood. “15 minutes from the heart of the city. Come!” The ad touts the perks of buying in a brand new development: no survey fees, etc., since twenty years before opening, it was part of the lake.

Still there more

lake vista

While Lake Vista has evolved over its 85-year lifetime, a number of homes built in the 1940s remain.

Pullman Porters worked for tips

Pullman Porters worked for tips

Pullman Porters didn’t earn a living wage from the company.

pullman porters

Linen postcard of one of the Pullman-built sleeping compartments aboard the KCS train Southern Belle, which originated in New Orleans.

The Pullman Porters

pullman porter

A Pullman Porter assists a passenger, Chicago, 1880s.

When George Pullman’s company began providing sleeping car service to passenger railroads in the US, he hired Black men, formerly enslaved, to staff the cars. Those men staffed sleeping cars, dining cars, and lounge/club cars. Pullman provided these services from the 1860s until the company ceased operations at the end of 1968. Pullman insisted that all his porters be dark-skinned black men. He knew that these men struggled to find employment as free men. So, He paid them incredibly low wages. The porters relied upon tips from passengers. Wikipedia lays out the economics of life as a Pullman Porter:

 The company required porters to travel 11,000 miles, nearly 400 hours, per month to earn a basic wage. In 1934, porters on regular assignments worked an average of over 73 hours per week and earned 27.8 cents an hour while workers in manufacturing jobs averaged under 37 hours per week and earned an average of 54.8 cents per hour.

What’s interesting is that, in spite of the deck being stacked against them, the porters’ hard work formed the backbone of the Black middle class in cities with lots of passenger rail activity, particularly West Oakland, Chicago, and New Orleans.

Since railroad workers’ unions were segregated, Black porters received no representation. A. Phillip Randolph formed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). The union organized the porters. It enabled collective bargaining and negotiation.

Amtrak

The national passenger railroad company took over in 1971. Amtrak dropped use of the term “porter,” referring to their employees in that role as “sleeping car attendants. The BSCP merged into the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks in 1978.

After the original Canal Station streetcar/bus facility was demolished. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority replaced it with a new bus terminal. The Authority named that facility for A. Phillip Randolph, founder of the BSCP.

Tipped Minimum Wage

The Pullman Porters normalized the concept of “working for tips.” While the concept originally enabled white passengers to control how much Black men got paid, the system continues to this day. Diners at restaurants control how much money servers and bartenders earn beyond the $2.13/hour mandated by the federal government.