Pontchartrain Beach 1974

Pontchartrain Beach 1974

“At the Beach, at the beach, at the Pontchartrain Beach…”

ad for pontchartrain beach in the times-picayune, 4-June-1974.

Pontchartrain Beach in 1974

“Fresh family fun…
New ride sensation!
Shoot the rapids…
LOG RIDE”

Ad for Pontchartrain Beach in the Times-Picayune, 4-June-1974. Da Beach, Lakeshore Drive and Elysian Fields, in the old Milneburg neighborhood. By June, schools were closed across the metro area. So, Da Beach was open daily, 12 Noon on weekends, 5PM on weekdays. After all, just because the kids were off, parents still had to work.

Evolution

Harry Batt, Jr., opened his amusement park at Bayou St. John and the lake in 1929. When the WPA boosted the sand beach at Elysian Fields and the lake in 1940, they built a bath house facility. They leased the land and the bath house to Batt. So, Harry moved his park to Milneburg. He grew the park, adding rides, attractions, and concessions. Additionally, Batt added a public pool facility, for folks who didn’t want to venture into the lake.

To meet the requirements of Jim Crow, WPA built a bath house facility along the lake in New Orleans East. That facility became the Lincoln Beach amusement park. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lincoln Beach closed, as Batt could no longer refuse entry to Black folks.

Pay One Price

The Haunted House at Pontchartrain Beach

The Haunted House, via Pontchartrain-Beach.com

Until the 1970s, admission to Da Beach was free. You parked and walked in. Attractions, rides, and the bath house required admission fees. Still, folks could just go out and walk the midway without paying anything. This was good for all the military personnel from NAS New Orleans and the Army facilities along the lakefront. By the 1970s, larger amusement parks in other cities charged a single admission. So, all the rides in those parks were included. Da Beach began “P.O.P. – Pay One Price.” You could ride the Zephyr, Wild Maus and the Haunted House as many times as you pleased.

Personal Memory

Going through today’s ads, this one brought back a particular memory for me. I was a rising junior at Brother Martin High School in 1974. One week, I got a call from a friend who said some of his cousins were coming into town from Lafayette that weekend. He needed to get dates from two of the girls, and I was tapped to take one of them out.

So, we pile into my friend’s car and off to Da Beach we go. This is P.O.P. time. I worked at Breaux Mart on Severn in Metairie that summer, so I had couple of dollars in my wallet. We get up to the ticket booth. I said, “two, please,” and slid across a ten-dollar bill. The lady behind the glass dropped back a dime.

A dime.

The P.O.P. admission at the time was $4,95, so the math was right. Still, it was a shock to my system. My hourly wage at the supermarket was $2. That ten bucks was, almost a day’s wages, and I got back a dime in change. We had a blast, though, riding the Zephyr all night. Now, it’s a fond memory and an economic milestone.

Elysian Fields 1938

Elysian Fields 1938

Before Elysian Fields took you to UNO, there was the Pontchartrain Railroad.

ford truck at elysian fields and gentilly 1938

Elysian Fields in 1938

Photo of Gentilly Road at Elysian Fields, 1938. A Ford Model T truck heads westbound on Gentilly, Behind the truck is a dirt road which later becomes Elysian Fields Avenue. Prior to this, this Gentilly Road was the half-way point for the Pontchartrain Railroad (PRR). The PRR ran from Chartres Street in the Marigny up to Milneburg. The Louisville & Nashville discontinued the PRR in 1931. So, by 1938, the street had yet to replace the train tracks.

Hebrew Rest Cemetery is visible on the left. A consortium of Jewish congregations bought land on the Gentilly Ridge. The high ground of the ridge facilitated in-ground burials.

Railroad versus canal

The first link between the city and the lake was the combination of the Carondelet Canal and Bayou St. John. The Creoles built the canal in 1795. They leveraged the bayou to complete a waterway. The Anglo-Irish community built the second connection, the New Basin Canal. So, by the 1840s, both sides of Canal Street had a link to the lake.

Businessmen in Gentilly went in a different direction. While developers did consider a canal to the east of the city, linking Faubourg Marigny with the lake, they scrapped the plan. Instead, investors built a railroad from the established neighborhood and the lake. The PRR opened in 1831. Ships docked at Port Pontchartrain and trains took goods down to the riverfront. As Milneburg developed, passengers used the six-mile route to go to the lake for day trips.

L&N takes over

The PRR sold out to the New Orleans, Mobile and Texas Railroad in 1871. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad leased the PRR route in 1880. They bought it outright in 1881. The L&N bought the PRR to extend their system to the port of New Orleans. So, they didn’t really care much about Port Pontchartrain. So, the full run to Lake Pontchartrain became more passenger than cargo. Milneburg offered hotels, restaurants, and fishing camps to New Orleanians. By 1930, L&N lost interest in keeping up the full PRR route. The final trains to Milneburg ran in 1932.

Works Progress Administration

By the late 1930s, the tracks vanished. A dirt/shell road replaced the right-of-way. The neighborhood expanded at this time, laying the foundation for the Gentilly subdivisions that popped up after World War II. When the Works Progress Administration (WPA) came to New Orleans in 1939, paving roads in Gentilly ranked high on the project list. WPA created the grid of Gentilly streets as we know them in 1939-1940. Elysian Fields Avenue linked Gentilly Road to the new bath house facility built at Milneburg. They accepted Harry Batt, Jr.’s bid to move his amusement park from Bayou St. John and the lake to the end of Elysian Fields. NOPSI set up bus service from downtown to the new “Pontchartrain Beach” amusement area.

Sixteen years after this photo, post-war growth in Gentilly included the opening of Cor Jesu High School. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart built the school on Elysian Fields, in what was the land to the right of this photo.

The truck

I like to think the truck in this photo was one of the ones used by the Zuppardo family at this time. The Zuppardo’s started with a mule-drawn wagon, bringing over-ripe bananas from the port up into Gentilly. The business became profitable, and the family built a roadside stand on Gentilly Road. They replaced the wagons with trucks. Eventually the business became Zuppardo’s Supermarket. The family operated the store on the corner of Elysian Fields and Gentilly until Hurricane Katrina.

Pontchartrain Beach Skyride

Pontchartrain Beach Skyride

The Pontchartrain Beach Skyride was a popular 1970s-80s attraction.

Pontchartrain beach skyride

Pontchartrain Beach Skyride

Photo of the “Skyride” at the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park.The attraction was a classic ski lift-style ride that carried folks from one end of the midway to another. The photo shows the elevated walkway that led out to the sand beach along the lake. A car traveling in the opposite direction carries three girls wearing jeans. To the right is the main concessions stand. In the background stands the Zephyr, the park’s large, wooden roller coaster.

Da Beach

Harry Batt, Jr., built his original amusement park along Bayou St. John in 1929. He moved it to Milneburg, at Elysian Fields and the Lakefront, in 1939. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built a bath house at that location. They solicited bids for an operator to run the bath house and expand the site. Batt did just that. The amusement park stood between two large military facilities, NAS New Orleans to the west and an Army facility to the East. The navy base is now the University of New Orleans, and the Army base is now the Lake Oaks subdivision.

Streamline Moderne

Pontchartrain beach skyride

Main concession stand at night.

The main buildings of the park were in the Streamline Moderne style, a variant of Art Deco. The main concession stand sold JAX Beer, along with “Coney Island Hot Dogs” and other food items. The photo above shows the night lighting of the building.

Other buildings

Pontchartrain beach skyride

The beach midway at night.

The Beach presented a symphony of incandescent and neon lights at night. The lights enticed park-goers to the rides and, naturally, to the food and beer. This photo shows the entrance to the “Wild Maus” coaster, a maze-like ride with many sharp turns and short, steep drops. The multi-disc light tower sits atop another concession stand and indoor arcade combination.

Abandoned Jazzland

Pontchartrain beach skyride

“Pontchartrain Beach” section of the Jazzland amusement park, courtesy Abandoned New Orleans.

This photo, courtesy of Abandoned New Orleans, presents the ruins of the re-created “Pontchartrain Beach” at the Jazzland/Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans East. The park closed after incurring flooding and damage in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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:

UNO’s Twentieth Anniversary 1978

UNO’s Twentieth Anniversary 1978

UNO celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 1978.

 

Twentieth Anniversary

Photo from The Privateer, the University of New Orleans yearbook, documenting the twentieth anniversary celebration of the school’s founding in 1978. In the center is Dr. Homer L. Hitt, UNO’s founding Chancellor. He would retire in the Summer of 1980. To Chancellor Hitt’s right, in the darker suit, is Lt. Governor James “Jimmy” Fitzmorris. To Hitt’s left is James Donelon. Now Louisiana’s Commissioner of Insurance, Donelon, a UNO alum, was a member of the Jefferson Parish Council at the time of this photo.

UNO SGA

The students behind the dignitaries are a veritable rogues’ gallery of the school’s Student Government Association. On the left side, the two tall guys are Bernie Cyrus and then-SGA President George Vujnovich. Directly behind Fitzmorris and Hitt is Robert Quasius, SGA Vice-President. Directly behind Hitt and Donelon, with his head turned, is me. I was the director of the SGA’s Legal Aid Program that year, as well as a member of Student Congress from the College of Education. On the far right of the photo is Sal Lejarza, who would be SGA Vice-President the next year.

I’m sure I knew most of the other folks in the photo, but time has blurred my memory. Feel free to point out others in comments!

Origins

The state chartered the school as Louisiana State University in New Orleans, in 1958. The “LS” was dropped in 1974, and we’ve been the University of New Orleans ever since. Then-Governor Earl K. Long scored a coup over his biggest rival, Mayor Chep Morrison, with its establishment. Long and Morrison were bitter political enemies. So ugly was this rivalry that Morrison barred the Louisiana State Police from exercising their commissions in Orleans Parish. The tit-for-tat went on for years.

During World War II, the lakefront location that became the university was Naval Air Station New Orleans. The land was owned by the state, and administered by the Orleans Levee District. After the war, the Navy re-located NAS New Orleans to Alvin Callender Field in Bell Chasse. As Naval Aviation implemented jets, noise became an issue. With thousands of men and women using their GI Bill benefits, it made sense to open a satellite campus of LSU in the city.

Governor Long got on board with this idea, because it meant dropping a state-controlled facility in Morrison’s city. That was all the encouragement Long needed. His support of the school is why the library bears his name.

1978

Having graduated from Brother Martin High School, just down the street, in 1976, I started UNO that summer. I joined SGA as a Student Congress member from Junior Division that fall. Such good times.Thanks, Angie, for sharing this photo and memory.

 

Shushan’s Monuments

Shushan’s Monuments

Abraham Shushan’s monuments marked Lakefront milestones.

shushan's monuments

New Basin Canal Lock monument, 1930

Shushan’s Monuments

Two 1930 photos of lakefront monuments. The late 1920s were a time of major improvements to the lakefront. Lake Pontchartrain seawall improved flood protection. So, the Levee Board* erected monuments to the “New Basin Canal Lock” and the “Lake Pontchartrain Sea-Wall.” Board president Abraham “Abe” Shushan supervised their placement.

Seawall

sushan's monuments

Abe Shushan inspects the seawall monument, 1930

The “Lake Pontchartrain Sea-Wall” was the finishing touch of a years-long series of land reclamation projects along the Orleans Parish lakefront. In 1915, the south shore of the lake went right up to Adams Street (now Allen Toussaint Boulevard). The Levee Board planned to drain the swampy ground and create new subdivisions. By 1930, the reclamation projects were completed.

The Levee Board built the finishing touch in 1929. Along with the stepped, concrete wall, they created Lakeshore Drive for access to recreational areas along the lakefront. Previous generations traveled out to the lakefront resorts at West End, Spanish Fort, and Milneburg via train/streetcar. With the completion of Lakeshore Drive, driving along the lake became a pleasant experience.

The monuments

Both of Shushan’s monuments contain the same text, with the name as the only change:

Constructed During the Administration of
HUEY P. LONG, Governor
by the
Board of Levee Commissioners
of the
Orleans Levee District
1930

The stones then list the members of the board and the various people who worked the projects. While John Riess built the lock, Orleans Dredging Company built the seawall.

Vanished

Shushan’s Monuments display Abe’s name, as president of the board. Shushan is seen in the seawall photo, inspecting the massive tablet. Abe got his start in his family’s business, Shushan Brothers. Shushan Brothers sold dry goods wholesale. Additionally, they operated retail toy stores. Abe left the business founded by his father and uncle, entering government as a strong supporter of Huey P. Long. He moved up in the Long organization. They arranged his appointment to the Levee Board.. Accordingly, the board named New Orleans Lakefront Airport (NOL) for Shushan. In 1935, the government indicted and tried him for tax fraud. Furthermore, they charged him with money laundering. While Shushan was acquitted, the Longs cut him loose. Although he was cleared, the trial exposed massive corruption. So, his name was removed from just about everything it was visible on, including these monuments.