Public Swimming Pools 1 – @NOLACityPark

Public Swimming Pools 1 – @NOLACityPark

Public swimming pools have a long history in New Orleans.

public swimming pools - architectural rendering of the City Park Swimming Pool complex.

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.

public swimming pools - monkey scooped out of park lagoon with net

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.

ATNM

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.

Kansas City Southern Crossing Carrollton

Kansas City Southern Crossing Carrollton

KCS passenger train heading out, crossing Carrollton Avenue.

crossing carrollton

Crossing Carrollton Avenue

A Kansas City Southern train heads west out of Union Station. It’s crossing S. Carrollton Avenue, just before the intersection of S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues. A pair of Electro Motive Corporation E3 locomotives are in the lead. Below the underpass bridge, two NOPSI trackless trolleys operating on the Tulane line. The train is likely the “Southern Belle,” the flagship passenger train of the railroad.

The Train

crossing carrollton

Color photo of a KCS EMC E3, pulling the Flying Crow at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in 1967, by Roger Puta.

The Southern Belle operated from New Orleans to Kansas City, via Shreveport and Dallas. So, it was an important transportation link in Louisiana. The train used EMC E3 engines from its inauguration in 1940 until its last service in 1969.

The Station

KCS passenger service operated from the Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad depot at 705 S. Rampart until 1954. Like other railroads, KCS trains transferred to Union Passenger Terminal that year. The city converted the depot into a fire station for NOFD, then later demolished it. The site is now a surface parking lot.

The L&A Depot stood just below the turning basin of the New Canal. Trains departed north from the depot, then turned west. They merged onto the tracks coming from Union Station. Illinois Central and Southern Pacific trains operated from that terminal. The westbound tracks passed over S. Carrollton Avenue on an underpass built by a WPA streets improvement program. The city filled in the Canal in 1949.

NOPSI trackless trolleys

Since the Southern Belle (and the Flying Crow, which operated from New Orleans to Port Arthur, Texas, to Kansas City) both operated in the 1940s, the buses narrow the time range for this photo. While this section of S. Carrollton was part of the St. Charles/Tulane Belt lines during streetcar operations, that service ended in 1951. NOPSI cut back the St. Charles line to S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues. They discontinued streetcar service on Tulane at that time. NOPSI replaced streetcars on Tulane with trackless trolleys on January 8, 1951. The company substituted buses on the line on December 27, 1964. So, the photo can’t be earlier than 1951.

Carrollton Interchange

The other factor limiting this photo’s date range is the Carrollton Interchange. It’s not there yet!  That’s because that part of the Pontchartrain Expressway wasn’t completed until 1956. The design phase of the project began in 1952. Since there’s not even construction above the train, the project wasn’t really underway yet.

The cars

Of course, the other identifiers in this photo are the automobiles. I’ll leave it to readers to tell us what they see.

Thanks to Keith “Pop” Evans for making this photo the cover image for his Facebook Group, N.O.L.A. – New Orleans Long Ago.

Southern Pacific Passenger Car #TrainThursday

Southern Pacific Passenger Car #TrainThursday

This Southern Pacific passenger car operated on the Sunset Limited.

southern pacific passenger car

Southern Pacific passenger car

A Budd corporation built passenger car operating on the Southern Pacific’s “Sunset Limited” train. The Historic New Orleans Collection dates this photo as prior to 1941, but that’s not accurate. The SP replaced the “heavyweight” cars running on the Sunset Limited with “streamline” cars like this one in 1950. So, this photo is likely from 1950 or 1951.

Four across

This car model offered four-across seating. Modern airlines offer this layout in their first class/business class cabins. Amtrak continues the four-across layout in their Superliner cars. Toilets were at the back of the car.

Railroads offered coach cars as bare-bones service. Amtrak’s incarnation of the line takes 46 hours to get from New Orleans to Los Angeles. The upside of a long train ride in coach is you’re not locked into the chair, as you would be on a plane. Riders ate in the dining car, strolled down to the lounge car, or just walked up and down the train to stretch. SP offered sleeper car service for a premium.

What’s important to remember is not everyone rides a long-haul route the entire way. So, if you wanted to take the train from New Orleans to, say, Lake Charles or Houston, hop on a Southern Pacific passenger car like this. Eight hours to Houston isn’t so bad.

The Route

SP inaugurated the route in 1894. They transferred it (along with all other passenger operations) to the national passenger railroad corporation, Amtrak, in 1971. The train runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles and return. The Amtrak’s Sunset makes twenty stops in between.

The cars

Prior to 1950, SP ran steel-sided “heavyweight” cars. They upgraded the flagship train in 1950, using corrugated aluminium siding. These cars weighed less. Their “streamlined” design offered a smoother ride. Additionally, the newer cars used upgraded trucks, better shock absorbers, etc.

The station

This car appears to be part of a ready-to-depart or just-arrived Sunset Limited consist. SP operated from Union Station on Rampart Street until Union Passenger Terminal in 1954. Trains coming into both stations used a car maintenance facility just to the side of the station tracks. Amtrak continues to use this facility, which back up to Earhart Boulevard. Pretty sure this isn’t the station itself, since there’s no roof over the tracks.

 

Streetcar Parade Changes 1950

Streetcar Parade Changes 1950

Streetcar parade changes happened to keep the streets clear.

NOPSI ad regarding transit service during mardi gras 1950

Streetcar parade changes

Ad in the Times-Picayune, 20-February-1950, outlining the “Changes in Streetcar and Bus Routes during Carnival Parades” for Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras that year.

In order to clear the streets along the routes of Carnival parades, certain temporary changes in streetcar and bus routes, principally in the Canal Street area, will be necessary. The dates and hours during which the changes will be in effect, as well as the points in the Canal Street area at which passengers may board and alight, are shown below. Service on the St. Charles-Tulane Belt lines will be interrupted during the parades along part of St. Charles Avenue as outlined below.

The timing of the changes: Lundi Gras, 6:30pm to about 9:30pm. The only parade of the evening was the Krewe of Proteus. It moved pretty quickly down the route, since they wanted to get their ball started on time at 9pm, at the Municipal Auditorium.

On Carnival Day,

Canal Street will be cleared of Traffic all day Mardi Gras from 9:45 a. m. until the night parade clears the street about 9:30 p. m. Passengers should board and alight at the points shown, below between those hours.

The parades on Mardi Gras were Rex during the day and Comus at night. Zulu had a less-formal route at this time, so it didn’t figure into the transit calculus.

Loading and unloading

The Canal line looping back at Crozat isn’t all that different from what happens now. The buses, being more flexible, essentially stop short of their usual turnarounds on Canal Street, on both the uptown and downtown sides of Canal.

The Belt

NOPSI 434 on the St. Charles Belt, 1947 (courtesy George Friedman)

“In the interest of safety, the St. Charles and Tulane Belt lines will not operate along the parade route while the Carnival parades are on St. Charles Avenue.” The turn-back points for the streetcars are different than recent years. For Proteus on Lundi Gras, the streetcars ran all the way down to Washington Avenue. That’s because Proteus went up Jackson to St. Charles. It turned left on St. Charles, but only for four blocks, to stop in front of Garden District homes, then looped to head to Canal Street. At this time, Rex left their den on Claiborne Avenue, and turned left on Claiborne, going to Louisiana. They then turned right on Louisiana, and turning left again onto St. Charles. Their route later expanded to Napoleon. So, now, Rex turns right out of the den, then left onto Napoleon, then left onto St. Charles. So, now the turn-back point is further up, at Napoleon.

Since the St. Charles and Tulane lines ran in Belt service, with one circling in one direction and the other in the opposite direction, there was a second turn-back point. This was at Elk Place and Canal. So, during parades, the lines ran point-to-point, from St. Charles and Louisiana, up St. Charles, turning on S. Carrollton, then Tulane, going to Canal and Elk. The Tulane line ran the opposite direction.

A year later, in 1951, NOPSI discontinued Belt service. The Tulane line transitioned to trackless trolleys, while St. Charles remained streetcars.

Have a safe and happy Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras!

 

LSUNO to the University of New Orleans (@uofno)

LSUNO to the University of New Orleans (@uofno)

LSUNO lost the “LS” in the name in 1974

LSUNO - University of New Orleans sign at the lakefront campus

LSUNO gets a name change

Newspaper article from 3-February-1974 reporting on the passage by the Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors of the name change for LSUNO. By an 8-2 vote, the university became the University of New Orleans. The article notes that students and alumni pushed for the name change for years. While LSU in Baton Rouge, the state’s flagship university, received the lion’s share of state funding, many felt that losing the “LS” in the name of the New Orleans campus would help change the branch school’s image. That push came to a head fifteen years after the school’s founding in 1958.

From Naval base to university

LSUNO - the official seal of UNO

Official seal of the University of New Orleans

LSUNO took over the old Naval Air Station New Orleans, when the Navy moved to Belle Chasse. The school addressed the demand for “commuter” programs in the city. Men and women returning from World War II and Korea didn’t want to spend four years at a traditional school. They had jobs and families now. The GI Bill would pay for college, if they could make time for it. LSUNO offered them the opportunity to continue educations interrupted by war. Later, the school provided the same assistance to veterans returning from Vietnam.

In spite of its contributions to the community, the flagship school received most of the largesse. As the years grew on, New Orleans students felt less and less of an affinity for the “…Stately Oaks and Broad Magnolias…” LSU’s alma mater speaks of. They connected with a thriving international city.

Opposition

Not everyone approved of the name change. Many on the faculty felt there was more to the “LS” than just a name. Louisiana State University was known internationally. Faculty members believed their opportunities for both government and private research funds would decrease without putting the relationship with Baton Rouge up front. The article cites the opposition of Dr. Mary Good to the name change. Dr. Good, a member of the Chemistry Department, was a Boyd Professor, the highest academic rank bestowed by the LSU system. She and a majority of the tenured faculty wanted to maintain the name link.

UNO in 1974

LSUNO cheerleaders pose on the Elysian Fields sign for the lakefront campus in the early 1970s

The students and alumni carried the day. After all, there were more of them than there were faculty, and they voted. State legislators voiced their opinions to the LSU Board, who voted accordingly. Once approved, the first outward sign of the change was when students covered the L and S in the sign at the Elysian Fields entrance of campus. A stone overlay with the UNO logo would come later, and the school’s official seal a few years after that.

Somewhere up in my attic are trophies from the last LSUNO Speech and Debate Tournament for local high schools. The tournament was held the following weekend. While the name change was official, the trophies still said, “LSUNO,” an amusing distinction for us at the time.

Full article below:

Falling Concrete 1958

Falling Concrete 1958

It’s not just contemporary–falling concrete was a problem in 1958.

Falling concrete - incident at the Maritime Building in 1958.

Falling concrete in the CBD

A story on the front page of the Times-Picayune on 26-January-1958 has contemporary ring to it. “Falling Concrete Nearly Hits Pedestrian, 2 in Auto.” The location was the Maritime Building, at 800 Common (corner Carondelet). While the outcome is similar to the falling concrete at the Plaza Tower building in recent years, this incident appeared to be a one-off. The building, which is still there, opened in 1895. The concrete originated from a cornice on the eighth floor corner. Like the modern incidents, NOPD blocked the corner off until it was determined to be safe for autos and pedestrians.

The incident

falling concrete - page one of the Times-Picayune, 26-January-1958.

Page one of the Times-Picayune, 26-January-1958.

The article details what happened:

A large piece of concrete fell from the eighth floor balcony of the Maritime Building Saturday about 10 a. m., barely missing a male pedestrian and a woman motorist and her two-year-old son.

The cornice-work fell from the extreme corner of the balcony and struck a neon sign, only one in that block on that side of the street. breaking the concrete into several smaller pieces.

The story goes on to say how those smaller pieces hit an automobile. A pedestrian, one Oscar D. Larre, who lived in Lakeview.

Police response

Similar to the various incidents at the Plaza Tower, NOPD’s repsonse was to block things off:

Police at the scene blocked all traffic between Carondelet and Baronne and were diverting pedestrians to the downtown side of the streets in the possibility of more falling concrete.

So, further investigation by NOFD and others was inconclusive. While they couldn’t say if more concrete would fall from the building, the police re-opened the street and things returned to normal. Turns out this was indeed an isolated incident.

The Hennen Building

falling concrete - The Hennen Building, article in the Semi-Weekly Times-Democrat, 1-September 1895.

The Hennen Building, article in the Semi-Weekly Times-Democrat, 1-September 1895.

The Martime Building opened as the Hennen Building in 1895. It is a “Chicago style” skyscraper. The building claimed the title of tallest building in New Orleans from its opening until 1904. The Morris Land and Improvement Association constructed the Hennen Building. The association took its name from John A. Morris. They named the building for Mrs. Morris’ father, Mr. Alfred Hennen. The firm of renown New Orleans architect Thomas Sully (designer of the Maison Blanche Building) designed the Hennen Building. The building stands eleven stories high.

The Hennen Building opened with “225 offices, renting from $15 to $35 each.” It housed a wide variety of tenants. New ownership converted it into condos in 2010. It was sold again in 2020, and is now a timeshare facility, the Holiday Inn Club Vacations New Orleans Resort.

Rabbit hole!

My morning started off with me looking for ads from this date (26-January), to share on social media. The process is very scientific–I wake up and follow my nose. I did 25-January-1959 yesterday, so I decided to stay in the 1950s today, with 1958. With the hot mess that is the Plaza Tower, well, here we go. That’s the fun part of this gig!

Tip of the hat – to New Orleans Architecture Tours – a google search of the Hennen Building produced a link to the Times-Democrat article from 1895. That was my jumping-off point to go look at the original article. Thanks!