Looking Up Canal Boulevard and the underpass from the 5400 block.
Up Canal Boulevard
Franck Studios Photo titled, Up Canal Boulevard from the 5400 block (LDL/The Historic New Orleans Collection). Photo shows a Southern Railway’s “Southerner” passenger train, about fifteen minutes after departure from Union Passenger Terminal (UPT) downtown. The Works Progress Administration constructed this and several other underpasses for the “Back Belt” route in 1940. The underpasses created a path for the trains that had no grade crossings with roads. Once a train leaves UPT (or a freight train enters Orleans Parish), there are no grade crossings until it crosses Lake Pontchartrain.
5500 Canal Boulevard
view up Canal Boulevard from the top of the train bridge in the 5500 block (Franck Studios Photo)
This photo shows the other side of the underpass. Traffic heading to the lakefront travels on the right, including an old-style NOPSI bus. While it’s not physically difficult to climb up to the bridge and tracks, it’s not recommended. A Cloverleaf Dairy delivery truck pulls into the street on the left.
THNOC includes their generic record notation for this photo. That lists the date as 1941. That’s not accurate, though, since the trains didn’t pass over Canal Boulevard until after UPT opened in 1954. So, this train rolls out of town in the 1950s. The Southerner followed a route from New Orleans to Atlanta using Southern Railway routes exclusively. The Crescent Limited and Crescent trains traveled from Mobile to New Orleans on Louisville and Nashville tracks along the Gulf Coast.
The Back Belt carries a great deal of freight traffic. The route connects freight yards in Avondale (UP and BNSF) and Metairie (CN and KCS) with the Norfolk Southern yard in Gentilly and CSX yard in New Orleans East. There’s a single Amtrak train, the Amtrak Crescent, traveling this route. Amtrak assumed operations of the Crescent from Southern in 1977. The train runs daily from UPT, arriving at New York Penn Station (NYP) the following day. Here’s the Amtrak Crescent crossing Canal Boulevard, 28-December-2023:
Two engines, AMTK 83, a GE P42DC “Genesis” and AMTK 338, a Siemens “Charger” pull a consist of three coaches, a cafe car, two sleepers and a bag-dorm car. The train will reach New York Penn Station the next day.
A Very Merry Christmas
The Basin Street Six
For Your Interest, Support, And Encouragement
Charlie Duke Pete Fountain Bunny Franks
George Girard Joe Rotis Ray Zimmerman
Fountain (clarinet) and Girard (trumpet) are credited with founding the band. This card is undated. Girard folded the band in 1954. Fountain left New Orleans to play with the Dukes of Dixieland in Chicago, it’s possible the Basin Street 6 used this card more than one year.
Chuck Credo later revived the Basin Street 6. The band continued to gig into the 1990s with varying personnel, recording an album in 1984, in conjunction with the World’s Fair.
So, Girard was the main force behind the creation and end of the original Basin Street 6. From his Wikipedia bio:
Girard was born in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. In highschool he studied music under Johnny Wiggs and became a professional musician immediately after graduating in 1946. He played and toured with the bands of Johnny Archer and Phil Zito before cofounding the band The Basin Street Six, made up mostly of friends he had grown up with, including clarinetist Pete Fountain. The band got a regular gig at L’Enfant’s Restaurant in New Orleans, as well as regular television broadcasts over WWL. The band started receiving favorable national attention, but Girard was dissatisfied with it and broke up the band in 1954 to found his own band, George Girard & the New Orleans Five which included trombonist Bob Havens, drummer Paul Edwards, and bassist Bob Coquille.Girard landed a residency at the Famous Door in the French Quarter, recorded for several labels, and got a weekly broadcast on CBS’s affiliated local radio station WWL. The broadcasts, from O’Dwyer’s on Jefferson Highway, were recorded and made available through the AFRTS. Girard had ambitions to make a national name for himself (and according to many fellow musicians the musical ability to do so), but became ill and had to give up playing in 1956. Girard died from colon cancer in New Orleans on January 18, 1957.
Wikipedia refers to “L’Enfant’s” Restaurant, it’s likely this refers to Lenfant’s on Canal Boulevard.
Our sixth installment of NOLA History Guy December features Krauss Department Store
NOLA History Guy December – Krauss
At the end of the 19th Century, the 1201 block of Canal Street consisted of a series of single-family homes. In 1899, Businessman and real estate developer bought those buildings. Fellman demolished those buildings in 1903, building a two-story retail store.
Fellman was a well-established merchant in New Orleans. He started with his older brother, Bernard, running a dry goods shop in the 701 block of Canal. The brothers split, with Leon opening his own store in the Mercier Building at 901 Canal. When S. J. Shwartz acquired 100% of that building, Fellman moved to 800 Canal. While he saw potential for a successful store in the 1201 block, he wasn’t going that far up the street.
Leon invited his nephews, the Krausz brothers, to open their own store in his new building. The brothers changed their last name to Krauss, and opened what the Daily Picayune called “a veritable trade palace” in 1903. Krauss Department Store operated there, eventually occupying two city blocks. The store closed in 1997.
Growth and expansion
Krauss was an instant hit. Since the four Krauss brothers were bachelors, none of them had family to turn the store over to upon their retirement. So, they passed control over to Leon Heymann, their brother-in-law. Leon a New Orleanian with business interests in Houma, married Tekla Heymann. He assumed control of Krauss in 1920. Heymann acquired the entire square block behind the store, as well as the block directly behind that. With help from his son, Jimmy, and brother-in-law, Leon Wolf, Heymann expanded the store to fill the 1201 block, back to Iberville Street.
In the 1950s, J. Phil Preddy managed the store’s displays and advertising departments. Preddy, a talented artist in his own right, created works for the store ranging from ad illustrations to giant murals painted on the front of the store. What better for NOLA History Guy December than Preddy’s Christmas display mural for the 1952 holiday season.
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.
Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.
The well-known Brulatour Courtyard stands at 520 Royal Street. #watercolorwednesday
The main courtyard of the Seignouret-Brulatour Mansion, 520 Royal Street in the Vieux Carré. Many New Orleanians remember the mansion as the offices and studios of WDSU-TV. The station used photos of the courtyard in its “station ID” spots for decades. The artist is Anthony B. “Ben” Suhor, longtime local high school teacher. From WDSU’s history of the mansion:
Although the courtyard bore the name of its second owner, Pierre Brulatour, the splendid mansion was built in 1816 by Francois Seignouret, a native of Bordeaux, France. Seignouret came to New Orleans just before the Battle of New Orleans and fought in the battle on the fields of Chalmette. His dream was to establish a winery. He replaced the century-old wines imported by the late Spanish masters considered the “Poison of Catalogne” with the mellowed sweetness of Bordeaux wines.
So, Mr. Suhor captured the courtyard as it was in 1952. It’s undergone a number of transformations.
Seignouret to Brulatour to Television
M. Seignouret built the house in 1816, after the Battle of New Orleans and the end of the War of 1812. When Francois passed, his brother Emile, inherited it. Emile sold the mansion to Pierre Brulatour. Both owners were wine merchants. Many debutante balls took place in the mansion’s upstairs ballroom. So, it was well-known long before television.
Carriages with visitors entered the main gate on Royal Street. The carriage circled the courtyard fountain, dropped off their passengers, and exited.
Businessman and civic leader Edgar Stern purchased the mansion in 1949. Stern acquired WDSU radio in 1947. He formed WDSU-TV in 1949. Stern moved the offices and studios into the mansion and the building next door. The station was an outstanding steward of the mansion. They sold it to THNOC in 1998, when WDSU moved to a larger, more modern studio on Howard Avenue.
Mr. Anthony B. Suhor taught at local high schools for 52 years. He taught at Redemptorist, Redeemer, and Rummel high schools. I was privileged to be one of Benny’s colleagues at Redeemer, in the early 1980s.
The block of 3000 Gentilly Blvd holds a fascinating history.
Photo of the building at 3028-3030 Gentilly Blvd., taken by Franck Studios on February 13, 1951. The specific photographer is unidentified, since this is a commercial photo rather than part of a legal record. The more recent occupant of the building was Gentilly Supply Center, a hardware and appliances store. The store declared bankruptcy the previous summer. A Latter and Blum “For Rent” sign stands in the front window. To the left is Al Shorey’s Bar, and to the right, what appears to be an Oriental Laundry storefront. Mr. Winston Ho has done extensive research on Chinese laundries, as part of his all-things-NOLA-Chinese work.
This building was an Oriental Laundry storefront. By the late 1940s, a pet shop, Petland, took over the location. They didn’t change the “oriental” look of the storefront. Eventually, Petland closed and the building was demolished.
The store was originally the “Gentilly Appliance Company.” The owners renamed it in 1948. The company participated in a lot of “co-op” advertising in the Times-Picayune. These are ads paid mostly by a product manufacturer, and stores selling the product added their address, possibly logo, at the bottom. If you lived in Gentilly and wanted to buy a Hotpoint dishwasher, Gentilly Supply Center was your go-to.
Public swimming pools have a long history in New Orleans.
Architectural rendering of the City Park Swimming Pool complex, 27-July-1924, by Favrot and Livaudais.
Beat the heat in public swimming pools
City Park and Audubon Park both opened public swimming pools in the 1920s. City Park was first, in 1925, followed by the uptown park in 1928. So much of their stories is enmeshed with local politics and national cultural shifts.
The City Park pool opened in 1924. The Times-Picayune wrote about the start of construction on 27-July-1924:
The park commissioners announce that the pool will include beautiful buildings and equipment complete in every detail. It will be constructed between the famous deulling oaks, in the west section of the park, about 400 feet from Orleans Avenue. the completed structure will blend with the surroundings and make an attractive landscape picture.
The location made sense, as the western side of the park was pretty much undeveloped. The park expanded from the old Allard Plantation. Commercial air conditioning didn’t come to New Orleans until the 1930s, so public strategies to beat the heat were important.
The pool opened upon completion of construction. When the park built the miniature railroad, they naturally added a stop at the pool. The pool operated until 1958. Rather than comply with court orders directing the city to integrate public park facilities, the New Orleans City Park Improvement Association closed the pool. The park converted the facility into a sea lion pool, featuring an island in the center. They populated the island with monkeys, creating a zoo-like attraction.
Monkey re-capture at City Park, 9-July-1965
While I wasn’t able to find a photo of the “monkey island” phase, there was a photo in Da Paper on 9-July-1965. There was a “mass escape” of twelve monkeys the day before. Mr. S. H. Daigle, one of the attraction’s attendant, is shown fishing a monkey out of one of the park’s lagoons.
The park closed “monkey island” in 1967. They converted the facility into a miniature golf course. That feature closed in the 1980s. The Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s office (OPCS) used the facility for storage and maintenance equipment. Long-time Criminal Sheriff (and later Louisiana Attorney General) Charles Foti built the pool area out as a “haunted house” attraction for Halloween. When the park began the incredibly-popular “Celebration in the Oaks” attraction for Christmas, the OPCS would re-decorate the old pool into a “Cajun Christmas” feature.
The entire pool area simply ain’t there no more. After Foti left OPCS, the department lost interest in using the pool facility. The remains of the pool were razed and the area is now green space.