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Post-WWII Archives - Edward Branley - The NOLA History Guy
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!

 

Maison Blanche Gentilly 1948

Maison Blanche Gentilly 1948

Maison Blanche Gentilly was the second store off of Canal Street.

Maison Blanche Gentilly

MB Gentilly, 1948. Franck Studios via THNOC

Maison Blanche Gentilly

Franck Studios photo of Maison Blanche Gentilly in 1948. The department store opened its third store just off Gentilly Boulevard, at Frenchmen Street. This strip mall anchored a large commercial development near the corner of Elysian Fields Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard. Other stores in the strip at this time include Walgreens, Morgan and Lindsey (a five-and-dime store) and Capital Stores Supermarket. A huge billboard for JAX Beer stands above the Walgreens. The MB is the only two-story store.

Gentilly Growth

The intersection of Elysian Fields and Gentilly Blvd grew into an important commercial area towards the end of the 19th century. The Pontchartrain Railroad operated along the length of Elysian Fields, from Chartres Street to Milneburg at the lake. The railroad marked the road along the Gentilly Ridge, Gentilly Road, the half-way point of the route. The train stopped there if a passenger notified the conductor. The train also stopped for pick-up if it was flagged down. The rail stop evolved into a local hub. The Zuppardo’s parked their produce truck there. That evolved into a brick-and-mortar store. Several Jewish congregations purchased the high ground on the ridge. They built cemeteries there, so they could bury their loved ones in-ground.

World War II

After the war, men and women came home, ready to start families of their own. Developers created subdivisions around the commercial hub. While housing remained segregated, Pontchartrain Park opened as a subdivision for Black families. So, more businesses opened. The Frenchmen strip mall reflected that demand. Residents of Gentilly appreciated the convenience. Instead of taking the Gentilly streetcar (on Franklin) or the Elysian Fields bus into the CBD, they shopped at Maison Blanche Gentilly.

Working women

maison blanche gentilly

T-P ad, 24-October-1953

“The Woman who works shops at MB for smart, thrift-wise wearables” in this ad in the Times-Picayune, 24-October-1953. MB enticed the working woman with nylon blousettes, wool suits and dresses, and butter calf handbags. With the Gentilly Store, woman shopped without having to schlep back downtown!

Lakefront Airport 1945

Lakefront Airport 1945

New Orleans Lakefront Airport (NEW) was the city’s go-to airfield during WWII.

lakefront airport

Lakefront Airport

Postcard of New Orleans Airport (NEW) from the 1930s. The image shows a commercial aircraft parked behind the main terminal building, boarding passengers. Image source unknown–if anyone’s done a deep dive on this one, please let me know. The aircraft appears to be a Douglas DC-3.

Delta Airlines 1945

lakefront airport

Fast forward to 1945. One of the ads I found in the Times-Picayune for 26-December-1945 was for Delta Airlines. The ad caught my eye for two reasons. First, it was Delta to Dallas. Delta ceased nonstops from New Orleans to Dallas in 2003. The airline filed for bankruptcy then and gave up hub operations at DFW. Delta’s headquarters stands off the runway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Delta to Dallas? Thing of the past.

The second thing–the flight time! Modern flights to Dallas, say MSY to Love Field (DAL), maybe an hour and ten minutes. Three hours? Well, yeah, it’s not a jet. But still!

The image in this ad looks like a DC-3 as well. The Douglas DC-4 had four engines, and the illustration looks like a two-engine aircraft. The military used the DC-3 as a sleeper aircraft, with 14 bunks. The Army Air Corps version of the plane, the C-47 transported paratroopers and glider troops to Normandy on D-Day.

Moisant or Lakefront?

A commenter to the ad post on Instagram asked, which airport? Another commenter replied this had to be Lakefront Airport, because MSY didn’t open to commercial aviation until May, 1946. So, New Orleanians hopping a plane to Dallas in 1945 drove out to the lakefront. NEW opened (as Shushan Airport) in 1934. A year later, airlines shifted to Kenner. Lakefront Airport morphed into a general aviation site, with Air National Guard units as well as private aircraft.

Lakefront Airport Today

The gorgeous Art Deco terminal underwent a major renovation in 2012-2013. It’s gorgeous, and merits an article of its own, which we’ll get to at some point.

Jefferson Parish Library, Bridgedale Branch

Jefferson Parish Library, Bridgedale Branch

The Bridgedale branch of the Jefferson Parish Library system.

bridgedale branch

Bridgedale Branch

Photo of the interior of the Bridgedale branch in the Jefferson Parish Library system, 1940s. The photographer is not credited. The State Library of Louisiana dates the photo only to 1940-1949. Their caption says, “B&W photo, Circa 1940s. Jefferson Parish library. Bridgedale Library. Metairie, La. Standing Mrs. Mary Lindsey, seated unknown.” While the caption refers to “Bridgedale,” this is the “Old Metairie” library branch, on Metairie Road. The parish library system expanded in 1949. So, that narrows the date of the photo. It’s possible this photo dates to 1950-1951.

Bridgedale Neighborhood

In her book, Legendary Locals of Metairie, Catherine Campanella explains that “Bridgedale” refers to the 1920s neighborhood leading up to the not-yet-built Huey P. Long Bridge. The first library branch in Metairie opened on Metairie Road and Atherton Street. While this location stands outside of the area recognized as “Bridgedale,” the branch picked up the name. After the state completed the actual bridge in the 1930s, the section of the parish from Central Avenue to Transcontinental Drive developed. In 1952, the parish opened Bridgedale Elementary, on Zinnia Street and West Metairie Avenue. Therefore, the nebulous neighborhood designation focused to the area flowing out from the bridge. Additionally, JPL opened the Wagner branch, on Kawanee Street, north of Veterans Blvd.

Metairie Library

So, this photo is from Metairie Road. This was the first public library I used as a kid. We lived on Dream Court, just off Bonnabel Blvd. Like the other original library branches, the parish owned the building. They transferred it to the library system. My time as a Metairie branch patron was in the mid-1960s. So, when we moved closer to the 17th Street Canal, this branch was still the closest. We relied on bookmobile service. The parish system appreciated the distance factor. They brought the library to us. Eventually, JPL constructed the Lakeshore Branch. It stands at the corner of Oaklawn and W. Esplanade.

A real Bridgedale branch

In 1997, JPL opened the East Bank Regional Library, at 4747 W. Napoleon Avenue. This 100,000 sq ft facility stands between Clearview and Transcontinental. So, Bridgedale didn’t just get a branch. They got the main library!

NORD Baseball Maison Blanche 1956

NORD Baseball Maison Blanche 1956

Maison Blanche Department Stores sponsored a NORD baseball team in 1956.

nord baseball maison blanche

NORD Baseball

Photo of a New Orleans Recreational Department (NORD) baseball team from the summer of 1956. Maison Blanche Department Stores sponsored this particular team. The manager and members of the team are unidentified, so if you know any of these guys, please let us know. Also unidentified is the ballpark. NORD operated many playgrounds featuring full-sized ballparks across the city. While many of them closed or were sold, some still offer places for the city’s youth to play. Commercial sponsorships also continue, in many sports.

Photo identification

This photo is part of the Hayne S. Ragas collection at the New Orleans Public Library. Ragas worked for NORD, and shot many photos of playground action in the 1950s. Maison Blanche sponsored several playground teams. When NORD embraced the growing Babe Ruth Baseball program in the 1960s, the store continued its support. This 1956 team would not yet have been part of Babe Ruth. So, it’s possible the team is from a single playground.

The team photo set shows the coach and players close-in. So, they lack details of the ballpark. The current New Orleans Recreation Department Commission maintains nine stadiums, including Kirsch-Rooney in Mid-City (near Delgado), and Perry Roehm, off of Elysian Fields in Gentilly.

NORD founded its playground leagues in 1947. So, the city segregated playgrounds and teams.

Other Maison Blanche baseball

Additionally, the store fielded an adult team. Employees played in the Commercial League, going back to the 1930s. While World War II temporarily suspended the competition, the Commercial League resumed at the end of the war. Many local businesses, including the department stores played in this league. The Commercial League also offered softball for women, and bowling for both men and women. Maison Blanche won their share of titles in many of these competitions.

Kenner Library Branch

Kenner Library Branch

The Kenner library branch in 1949 was on Airline Highway.

kenner library branch

Kenner Library Branch

Photo of the interior of the Kenner Branch of the Jefferson Parish Library in 1949. The caption from the State Library of Louisiana reads: “B&W photo, Circa 1940s. Jefferson Parish library. Kenner, Louisiana. Airline Hwy. Left to right: Mrs. Beatrice Hidalgo and Mrs. Dixie Stephens.” If anyone knew these ladies, let us know in comments! The Kenner Branch at this time was on Airline Highway, near Williams Blvd. The branch later moved to Williams Blvd, near Kenner City Hall, in the 1960s.

Jefferson Parish Library System

The Jefferson Parish Police Jury authorized a public library for the parish in 1946. In 1949, the first public library opened at Huey P. Long Avenue and Fourth Street, By December of 1949, branches opened in Gretna. Metairie, Jefferson, Kenner, Harahan, Marrero, Gretna, and Westwego. The parish converted existing buildings to libraries. This enabled the quick expansion. Growth of the library system continued into the 1950s and 1960s. In Kenner, the original branch re-located, and a North Kenner branch opened. This fit the growth pattern of Kenner, as folks moved above Veterans Blvd.

Hurricane damage

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita inflicted serious damage to a number of parish library branches. For example, Hurricane Rita damaged 33% of the North Kenner branch. While libraries play important roles in building communities, repairing such damage was a challenge. It’s not something that happens overnight. Fortunately, the system continues to recover and grow.

My branches

Growing up in Old Metairie, we used the branch at Metairie Road and Atherton St. So, that branch later moved further up Metairie Road to its current location. While it received damage from Katrina, the branch now thrives. When we bought our house, the Wagner Library, by Bissonet Plaza Elementary was our branch. Now, the East Bank Regional Library is home, to family, and to our small writers’ group.