Morning Photowalk 20-May-2024 (1)

Morning Photowalk 20-May-2024 (1)

The weather’s nice enough for a proper morning photowalk!

s. bernadotte and canal morning photowalk

Morning Photowalk for a Monday

My usual Monday routine is breakfast at Wakin Bakin on Banks Street in Mid-City. I parked my car back by St. Patrick Cemetery Number One, on Canal Street. From there, I did a morning photowalk, down Canal to S. Murat Street, to Banks Street. The weather was great and the neighborhood is fun to observe.

Canal Street

morning photowalk

4920 Canal Street

4916 canal street morning photowalk

4916 Canal Street

4916 Canal St. morning photowalk

4916 Canal Street

4920-4916 Canal Street. Numbers here decrease since I’m walking “down,” towards the river. This is a pair of Streamline Moderne buildings housing downstairs retail (professional offices) and upstairs apartments.

botinelli place morning photowalk

Botinelli Place

Botinelli Place is a private street. It’s the south-of-Canal extension of Anthony Street. The building in the rear with the large spires is the ‘Botinelli Building.” The spires originally adorned the old Touro Synagogue on Carondelet Street. Botinelli acquired them as salvage when the congregation sold their building on Carondelet and moved to St. Charles Avenue, by Loyola University. He built an apartment building and put the spires on top.

st. anthony's priory morning photowalk

Dominican Priory at St. Anthony Church

st. anthony priory morning photowalk

Dominican Priory at St. Anthony Church

Two views of St. Anthony’s Priory, 4640 Canal Street. More than just a rectory for the parish, the priory houses Friars working around New Orleans.

4520 Canal morning photowalk

4520 Canal Street

Currently listed by Anthony Posey Properties, Inc.

4534 Canal Street morning photowalk

4534 Canal Street

This house is one off the corner, with the well-known home of the Centanni family at the corner of Canal and S. Murat Streets.

Napoleon in Mid-City

One of the more interesting and less-known aspects of this section of Mid-City is its association with Napoleon Bonaparte. While most folks are aware of the Napoleonic theme of street names just off of Napoleon Avenue uptown, many aren’t aware of the Mid-City connection. Three streets in Mid-City, Bernadotte, Murat, and Alexander are named for personalities from the Napoleonic period. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was one of Napoleon’s marshals. He was elected crown prince of Sweden in 1810 and became King Charles XIV John upon the death of King Charles XIII. Joachim Murat was also a Marshal of France under Napoleon, later becoming King of Naples. Tsar Alexander I of Russia was one of Napoleon’s chief adversaries.

 

 

 

 

Pepsi and Berlin on the Amtrak Crescent

Pepsi and Berlin on the Amtrak Crescent

Pepsi and Berlin means special livery and private varnish on the Crescent. #TrainThursday

pepsi and berlin

AMTK 160 in Phase III livery.

Pepsi and Berlin

Amtrak’s Crescent #20 rolled out of New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOL) yesterday and today with some special units. The video above shows AMTK 332 and AMTK 160 pulling the train on 3-April-2024. The first engine, 332, is a Siemens Charger. These engines are newer than the P-42 “Genesis” locos. Amtrak mixes use of the two generations.

AMTK 160 is one of those older Genesis units. The railroad painted it in “Phase III” livery in 2021, to mark its 50th Anniversary. The scheme is affectionately known as “Pepsi Can,” since it resembles the colors of the soft drink’s logo. Amtrak implemented Phase III only on its GE Dash-8-32BWH locomotives. The railroad transitioned into the Genesis units, so they painted a Genesis in Phase III for the anniversary. We wrote about the Pepsi Can already, but it’s still fun to see it go by.

 

Sleep on a Train

On 4-April-2024, Private car “Berlin” hitched a ride with #20. Genesis locos AMTK 77 and 18 lead the train. We’ve also written about the private car, Berlin, but seeing it on the rails is a good sign. It means Spring is here! Travel by private railcar picks up in the Fall (foliage season in the NorthEast) and Cherry Blossom time in the Spring. Berlin heading to NYP means we’ll have to keep a closer eye out for it and other private cars.

New Orleans sees a number of these private cars pass through the city. Three Amtrak routes converge on New Orleans, the Sunset Limited (to Los Angeles), the City of New Orleans (to Chicago), and the Crescent (to New York). While most private car adventures make a round trip on a single route, some run transcontinental. They’ll hitch to a train heading out of New York, then change to one heading to the West Coast. So, we occasionally see private varnish arrive from New York, stay over a night or two, then head west, hooked to the Sunset Limited. This sort of connection began in the 1890s.

Street names change over time

Street names change over time

It’s no surprise that street names in New Orleans change over time.

street names

Street tiles for General Pershing Street, renamed from Berlin Street. (Infrogmation photo)

The changing of street names.

City government changes street names for a number of reasons. Here are some examples, using the Robinson Atlas of 1883. Let’s start with the French Quarter.

Custom House to Iberville

street names

Custom House Street, 1883

The first street after Canal Street, inside the French Quarter, was originally named “Custom House.” It was later changed to Iberville Street. While we associate both LeMoyne brothers with the founding of New Orleans, Bienville had the greater role. Iberville’s contributions weren’t initially considered significant enough to earn a street.

Calle del Arsenal

street names

Calle Del Arsenal (Infrogmation photo)

The street was originally named for the Ursuline nuns. When the Spanish took over, streets received names in their language. Spanish troops were quartered on the lower side of the city, hence Barracks and Arsenal. Calle del Arsenal reverted to Ursuline after New Orleans was sold to the United States in 1803.

Hospital to Governor Nicholls

street names

Hospital Street, 1883

In the Lower Quarter, Hospital changed to Governor Nicholls, in honor of Francis T. Nicholls, governor of Louisiana from 1888-1892. The city changed the street after he passed in 1912.

Outside the French Quarter

Tulane Avenue from Common Street

street names

Common Street, from Claiborne to Broad, 1883

Common Street, above Elk Place, changed to Tulane Avenue in 1884, in honor of philanthropist and namesake of Tulane University, Paul Tulane. Several street name changes took place around this time. In addition to the creation of Tulane Avenue, Delord Street (which ended at Tivoli Circle) changed to Howard Avenue.

Adams to Lee to Toussaint

street names

segment of the Robinson Atlas of 1883 showing Lakeview

Before electric streetcars, transit to the West End and Spanish Fort recreational areas along Lake Pontchartrain was accomplished via steam trains. West End converted first, in 1898. The Spanish Fort train closed, but returned in 1911 as an electrified streetcar line. Both streetcar lines ran out to the lakefront on West End Boulevard. Spanish Fort turned on Adams Street (named after Presidents John and John Quincy Adams). With the increased significance of the street after 1911, the city renamed Adams for Robert E. Lee.

The city renamed the street a second time, in 2022. Perfectly normal course of action. So, is it revisionist? No. Would it be revisionist to say Robert E. Lee had a significant impact on the history of New Orleans? Yes, because, in his entire life, he only spent about thirty-six hours here.

Tivoli to Lee to Harmony

street names

Lee Circle, 1883

The roundabout on Naiads Street, now St. Charles Avenue, at Delord Street (now Howard Avenue). The city originally named it, “Tivoli Circle.” In terms of city ordinances, that name remained until 2022. From Wikipedia:

On July 31, 1877, “Lee Place” within “Tivoli Circle” was authorized by Ordinance A.S. 4064[4][5] Although the traffic circle is commonly referred to as “Lee Circle”, this ordinance makes clear that the “enclosure” containing the statue is to be known as “Lee Place”, while the traffic circle itself continues to be known as “Tivoli Circle”. This ordinance contains no reference to the name “Lee Circle”.

While the monument and park honored Lee, the roundabout never changed from Tivoli Circle. This demonstrates common usage colliding with legal names. So, since the Lee statue stood at the center of the park, the entire area became, “Lee Circle.”

In 2022, the City Council formally re-named Tivoli Circle, Harmony Circle.

street names

Harmony Circle via Google Maps

Was this “revisionist history?” No. Street names changed all the time. Would it be revisionist history to argue that Lee wasn’t on the losing side of the Southern Rebellion? Yes.

New Orleans Public Belt RR at Ursuline Street #TrainThursday

New Orleans Public Belt RR at Ursuline Street #TrainThursday

The New Orleans Public Belt runs along the riverfront.

public belt

Streetcars and trains along the Riverfront

Infrogmation photo (2013) of three New Orleans Public Belt (NOPB) locomotives passing the Ursuline Street station for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA). From right to left: NOPB 3001, an EMD GP40, NOPB 3003, a GP40-2, and NOPB 2008, a Motive Power Industries (MPI) 1500D. All three locomotives bear the red NOPB livery used at that time.

New Orleans Public Belt

The City of New Orleans created the NOPB in 1908. From the railroad’s Wikipedia entry:

The impetus for the NOPB came at the start of the 20th century era when multiple railroads terminating locally created both congestion at the Port of New Orleans and safety problems on city streets. The railroad began operation in 1908 with the intention of giving the major railroads “uniform and impartial” access to the port.

So, the NOPB regularly operates along the riverfront. Additionally, the NOPB “owns” the Huey P. Long bridge, which connects about one-third of the nation’s east-west railroad traffic. From the Industrial Canal to Jefferson, Louisiana, NOPB horns can be heard.

Streetcars

public belt

Portion of the route map for NORTA’s UPT-Riverfront line.

While there are no streetcars in this photo, the Ursuline Station is a stop on the NORTA UPT-Riverfront line, Route 49. It’s the second-to-last stop as the outbound streetcars approach the French Market terminal. Hopping off the Von Dullen and 400-series arch roofs at Ursuline puts the rider at Latrobe Park. This snippet of NORTA’s map for Route 49 shows the various railroad tracks in this part of the port. While the first incarnation of the Riverfront line operated on “standard gauge” tracks, the line switched to “streetcar gauge” in 1997.

Red to Blue

public belt

NOPB locos in blue livery passing Jackson Square, February 2023. Mussi Katz photo.

NOPB adopted a blue livery for their locomotive fleet in 2019. The blue paint scheme distinguishes them from the streetcars on Route 49. The locomotives use horns, where the streetcar operators clang the traditional trolley bell.

The Back Belt caught fire!

The Back Belt caught fire!

A back belt fire disrupts trains and autos.

back belt fire

courtesy NOFD

Back Belt fire

A back belt fire broke out on the Canal Boulevard underpass on Monday, 2-October-2023, around 6pm. NOFD documented the fire on Twitter. By Wednesday, 4-October, the damage to the tracks appears to be repaired.

I learned of the incident on Tuesday, when I went to my regular coffee shop, PJ’s, at 5555 Canal Boulevard. The coffee shop stands right next to the underpass. One of the baristas showed me video taken by the barista working Monday evening. Crazy!

Track damage

back belt fire

courtesy NOFD

The New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) constructed “Back Belt” in 1908. It got its name because it’s in the “back” of town relative to the “Public Belt” tracks which run along the river. Southern Railway acquired NOTC in 1916. Southern later merged to become present-day Norfolk-Southern Railroad. In 1939-1940, the Works Progress Administration built a series of underpasses along the Back Belt. The tracks have no grade crossings for its entire run through the city. So, the coffee shop offers a great vantage point for train-watching.

NOFD reported they do not know what caused the fire. Heat warped the track towards the eastern end of the underpass.

back belt fire

Amtrak Crescent #20, 3-Oct-2023

When Amtrak’s Crescent departed town on Tuesday morning, the train came out of the access track that runs along I-10 (between the highway and the cemeteries). When it approached the underpass, the train backed up, so it could cross over to the northern track on the Back Belt.

Repairs

By Wednesday, the tracks appeared to be repaired as a westbound train pulled by Union Pacific engines moved across the underpass. An eastbound CSX train crossed at the same time.

Normal?

Here’s this morning’s Crescent #20, crossing over the repaired tracks. Caption from YouTube:

Amtrak’s Crescent #20, ten minutes out of Union Passenger Terminal (NOL). AMTK 199, a P-42 Genesis, and AMTK 164, painted in “Phase IV Heritage” livery. Standard consist, two Genesis, 3 Viewliner coaches, 1 cafe, 2 sleepers, and a bag-dorm bringing up the rear. The train’s moving slower than normal out of concern for the rail replacements made on 3-Tues-2023 because of a track fire.

So, freight and passenger traffic appears to be back.

Amtrak City of New Orleans – slow and fast(er)

Amtrak City of New Orleans – slow and fast(er)

Amtrak City of New Orleans heading out of town at different speeds.

Amtrak City of New Orleans

Riding Amtrak City of New Orleans

The City of New Orleans is Amtrak’s New Orleans to Chicago route. It’s their version of the old Illinois Central train made famous by the song.  For the last few months, the City passed through the intersection at Central Avenue in Old Jefferson very slowly, like this

Speeding up

By 11-August, the railroad decided to pick up the pace. This is the same intersection, but on the other side of the train. I’m of two minds on which angle I prefer. The closer-up position is fun, but taking a few steps back to the other side of the old IC (now Canadian National) main line offers good profile views.

Note the Transition Sleepers at the rear of the trains. This is interesting, because usually the transition sleepers only ran here on the Sunset Limited. That 3.5-day route required sleeping cabins for crew. The City routes are shorter, but still overnight. I don’t know if connecting private cars to the rest of the train is a factor, but the lower vestibule of these cars allows it.

 

There are still some days when you see the older GE P42DC “Genesis” engines pulling the City, but the Siemens Chargers are the solid, day-to-day power for the route. While the Crescent still runs the Genesis engines, that route is scheduled to phase into the Chargers by next year. The City ran with one P42 for years. Since switching to the Charger, the train uses two engines. The Charger could pull either the City or the Crescent with one engine. I guess the railroad doesn’t want to deal with breakdown issues. If something happens, there’s a backup and the train can just keep going. We’ll keep an eye out for the newer engines on the Back Belt.