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.

 

 

 

 

Norfolk Southern Back Belt map 1918

Norfolk Southern Back Belt map 1918

The current Norfolk Southern Back Belt dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.

norfolk southern back belt

Norfolk Southern Back Belt in 1918

Map of New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) trackage as of 30-June-1918. This path across Orleans Parish became known as the “Back Belt,” in comparison to the “Public Belt” route that hugs the river and services the wharves. The NOTC acquired the land for the Back Belt in the early 1900s. While I don’t have documentation, it’s likely no coincidence that merchant and developer Leon Fellman bought the 1201 block of Canal Street. Did he know about the plans of the railroad men? NOTC later merged with the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad, which in turn merged into the Southern Railway system in 1916. That’s how the route became part of the current Norfolk Southern System.

City bypass

The idea behind the Back Belt was to bypass most of the populated areas of Orleans Parish. The Back Belt originates in Jefferson Parish. It splits off of the former Illinois Central (now Canadian National) main line at Causeway Blvd. That’s the “Shrewsbury” reference on the map. It crossed the New Canal via a bascule bridge just north of Metairie Road. From there, the route crosses the city, then turns towards the river in St. Bernard Parish.

The city naturally developed in succeeding years. Lakeview and Gentilly caught up with the Back Belt by the 1920s. The Levee Board’s land reclamation projects in the 1920s opened up the area. As part of the Works Progress Administration projects of the Great Depression Era, the Back Belt expanded. WPA constructed underpasses at grade crossings throughout the city. So, once the route clears Carrollton Avenue in Metairie, there are no grade crossings for trains until they cross Lake Pontchartrain and reach Slidell.

The Terminal

The last Southern Railway train,

Terminal Station, late 1910s

NOTC connected the Back Belt to downtown in 1908. They built Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets. The route ran adjacent to St. Louis Street through Mid-City. It linked up with the Back Belt at Greenwood Cemetery. Southern Railway used this connection for their “Bernadotte Yard,” so named because the yard started just below the connection point, at Bernadotte and St. Louis Streets.

Terminal Station operated from 1908 to 1954. The city constructed Union Passenger Terminal, shifting all passenger rail operations to the new station. The city demolished Terminal Station in 1956. The link to the Back Belt re-routed to follow the Pontchartrain Expressway. Today, Amtrak’s Crescent route uses that connection. The Back Belt continues to be incredibly busy, used by Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, CSX, Canadian National/KCS and Amtrak.

Metairie Cemetery Entrance 1880s

Metairie Cemetery Entrance 1880s

The Metairie Cemetery Entrance was at Metairie Road and Pontchartrain Boulevard in the 1880s.

metairie cemetery entrance

Metairie Cemetery Entrance

Charles Roscoe Savage photo of Metairie Cemetery in the 1880s. BYU Digital Collections reference:

A view through a vine- covered archway of two men with their luggage at the base of a small mound with a statue on the top. Hand-tinted. Note: Written on the back- Transferred from P-167.

This entrance was for pedestrians. The Metairie Cemetery Association (MCA) constructed an automobile entrance on Pontchartrain Blvd. in the 1900s. The photographer stands with his back to the New Basin Canal. The tumulus seen through the vine-covered entrance arch is that of the Army of Tennessee (Louisiana Division). The equestrian statue on top is of Albert Sidney Johnson.

Evolution

This entrance evolved as visitors arrived in automobiles more than on foot. The cemetery had an access gate just west of the Metairie Road-Pontchartrain Blvd. entrance. This allowed hearses and other horse-drawn vehicles access. Automobiles required a better entrance. The MCA added one about twenty years after this photo. Pedestrians could still enter the cemetery from here. The MCA later removed the brick archway. They replaced it with a lower fence.

The city filled the New Basin Canal, starting in 1948. By 1949, the section by the cemetery was filled. The Pontchartrain Expressway consists of an overpass over Metairie Road. Out of concern for pedestrian safety, MCA locked the entrance permanently in the 1950s. The entrance is now accessible.

Modern view

With the archway/entrance gone, the cemetery developed the entrance area for more tombs. The most notable new construction is the Benson Tomb. It now stands to the left of where Savage stood for this photo.

Army of Tennessee (Louisiana Division)

This tumulus is one of several burial sites for rebels who fought in the Southern Rebellion. The most notable veteran interred here is P.G.T. Beauregard.

I tell stories

I tell stories

Re-introducing myself – I tell Stories.

maison blanche postcard

Detroit Publishing Company postcard of Maison Blanche Department Store, 1910

I Tell Stories

I’ve written six books on various aspects of the history of New Orleans. They’re stories ranging from streetcars to department stores to schools to Jazz. I earned a BA in Social Sciences Education from the University of New Orleans in 1980. I taught Social Studies at a local high school for a few years. Teaching History is indeed storytelling. It’s a good bit more, of course, particularly when working to improve students’ reading skills, but the content is stories about things in the past. I moved on from high school, using retail sales as a bridge. Invariably, I came back to telling stories, as an adult education instructor (UNO Metropolitan College), and later moving into the world of corporate training. Everything involved storytelling.

While delivering corporate training, I needed things to stay occupied when out of the classroom. So, in 2003, I pitched a book idea to Arcadia Publishing. Streetcars vanished from Canal Street in New Orleans in 1964. The city planned to bring them back, forty years later. It was a great story to share. Even though many stories exist about the older, senior streetcar line, St. Charles Avenue, Canal Street remained essentially an untold story. Arcadia liked the idea and I wrote the book. Promoting a book means telling stories to get folks to buy it.

More stories

St. Alphonsus Church, New Orleans, by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880

St. Alphonsus Church, New Orleans, by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880

After the first book, more storytelling opportunities materialized. I pitched a book about my high school, Brother Martin, in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. The school’s roots go back to 1869, when the Brothers of the Sacred Heart opened St. Aloysius in the Vieux Carré. Promoting two books opened up more possibilities. I told shorter stories as the “history blogger” for GoNOLA.com, a site sponsored by the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation, now New Orleans, Incorporated. Monthly exposure led to weekly exposure. Various groups around the area invited me to speak to their membership. I’m particularly flattered that the Friends of the Cabildo’s Tour Guides regularly have me in to talk.

Of course, none of this history stuff, from teaching to writing to speaking, pays quite like corporate computer consulting and training. I lived a double life in this respect. That presented challenges for my LinkedIn Presence.

Ramping up LinkedIn

The "second" St. Charles Hotel, stereo card by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880.

The “second” St. Charles Hotel, stereo card by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880.

I’ve had a presence on LinkedIn since 2007. While I was a good bit active when developing a client base for YatMedia, my activity diminished after that side of what I do scaled back. The computer work I do rarely involves anything local. I traveled extensively for years, teaching UNIX and Enterprise Storage for international companies. The market for those products and services only touches New Orleans very lightly. So, I flew literally around the world, delivering training. The sales staffs of the companies I’ve taught for did the dirty work. I showed up and taught. I still do, in fact, even though “showing up” now means walking here to my home office and firing up WebEx.
The corporate training landscape changed dramatically around 2016 or so. I remember, during the pandemic, a good friend started a podcast for IT professionals. Jeff interviewed folks, and we talked about how the pandemic changed work habits, etc. I explained that my training workload went “virtual” long before people knew what Zoom was about. Traditional job recruiters didn’t help me, since I work through a training company that contracts me out to computer companies. So, even though I’m self-employed, I don’t present a target for those looking to increase their business using LinkedIn.

Local/History LinkedIn

It’s fun to include LinkedIn users when I tell stories. The larger the audience, the more people I can interest in buying the books! Still, LinkedIn remained secondary to Twitter and Facebook. Now that those platforms morphed into dumpster fires in many ways, the stability of LinkedIn is appealing.

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.