Our fifth installment of NOLA History Guy December features New Orleans Jazz
NOLA History Guy December – Kid Ory
David Simon’s TV series for HBO, “Treme” was in its third season in the summer of 2012. When I learned the show was green-lighted for a fourth season, I pitched a book to Arcadia, “Faubourg Treme.” A couple of days later, I received an email from one of the acquisitions editors. They liked the idea, but wondered if I would be open to a project of a wider scope. I saw Treme as an important neighborhood in New Orleans history, particularly Black history. They saw Treme as the birthplace of Jazz. (Strictly speaking, it was one of the birthplaces, but we got there in the ultimate book.) So, said, sure, and began work on New Orleans Jazz.
Edward “Kid” Ory, “Dutt” to his friends, was born in LaPlace, Louisiana. As a teen in the 1900s, he came into New Orleans on weekends to play gigs with his friends. They took the train into town, then borrow a wagon. They meandered around the city, promoting their gig for that Saturday evening. The trombone players in these bands played off the back of the wagon, the “tailgate.” That way they could work the horn’s slide without risking damage.
Here’s the caption for one of Dutt’s photos:
Tailgate. Edward “Kid” Ory (1886-1973) played banjo as a child, developing a style known as “tailgate,” where the trombone player plays rhythm, under the lead of trumpets/cornets. Originally from LaPlace, Louisiana, legend is that Buddy Bolden “discovered” the 19-year old Ory in Uptown New Orleans and brought him into the fledgling Storyville jazz scene, but his sister told Bolden her brother was too young to play the clubs. Ory did make it to Storyville in the 1910s, then moved to Los Angeles in 1919, eventually making his way to Chicago. In Chicago, he played with King Oliver, Jelly Roll, and Louis Armstrong. Ory took a long hiatus during the Great Depression, but his career enjoyed radio success from 1944-1961.
Dutt was one of the original “Creole Jazz” players. The Great Migration of Black Americans from former slave states to Northern and Western states saw many Black musicians move to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Ory played with King Oliver and Pops in Chicago, then settled in Los Angeles.
New Orleans Jazz by Edward J. Branley
From the back cover:
Discover how Jazz shaped the history and enhanced the life of the citizens of New Orleans.
From the days when Buddy Bolden would blow his cornet to attract an audience from one New Orleans park to another, to the brass bands in clubs and on the streets today, jazz in New Orleans has been about simple things: getting people to snap their fingers, tap their toes, get up and clap their hands, and most importantly dance! From the 1890s to World War I, from uptown to Faubourg Treme and out to the lakefront, New Orleans embraced this uniquely American form of music. Local musicians nurtured jazz, matured it, and passed it on to others. Some left the city to make their names elsewhere, while others stayed, playing the clubs, marching in the parades, and sending loved ones home with jazz funerals. Older musicians mentored younger ones, preserving the traditions that give New Orleans such an exciting jazz scene today.
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The Storyville debate continued past the District’s creation. .
In their edition of 9-October-1897, The Mascot re-printed a letter from “CITIZEN,” originally published in The New Orleans Item. The letter decries the establishment of the Storyville District, not so much because of the morality of brothels, but because of the behind-the-scene shenanigans taking place between property owners and the New Orleans City Council. The City Council created the District via an ordinance passed on 6-July-1897. They designated the area between Basin, Customhouse, N. Villere, and St. Louis Streets as a red-light district, where prostitution was legal.
Opposition to Storyville
Those who objected to the District did so on more than moral grounds. The neighborhood broke down into the up-scale “sporting palaces” along Basin Street, to the “cribs,” small houses going back into the District, towards N. Villere Street. The price of the evening’s activities reflected the location. So, whether the customer was punter with some money, or a working man looking for some action on a budget, the houses of Storyville met the needs. While those who objected to prostitution in any form howled, the notion of creating a red-light district appealed to many. In particular, property owners in the Vieux Carre and in Faubourg Treme on the east side of the Carondelet Canal liked the idea.
The letter writer, “CITIZEN,” decries the shifts in property values created by the ordinance:
The ordinance has not only done an unjustified injury to the property holders owning real estate, to the value of more than half a million dollars, in the former district occupied by the lewd and abandoned, but has really been a barefaced scheme to speculate to the detriment of a large portion of our population, for the benefit of a few, who are on the ground floor of city affairs, and has afforded several human vampires an opportunity for extorting for old dilapidated shanties fabulous rentals out of all proportion to the value of their properties.
Essentially, CITIZEN argues that houses in a red-light district lose value. At the same time others jacked up the rental prices. The description of “old dilapidated shanties” fits with many of the descriptions of “cribs” in the District.
The flowery prose of the letter writer, combined with the parallels of the issues surrounding short-term rentals of modern times make this a fascinating read.
1201 Canal Street viewed from the Elks Building.
1201 Canal Street
John Tibule Mendes took this photo of Krauss Department Store and the train station on 30-March-1919. Mendes stood on the roof of the Elk’s Home, just across Canal Street, at 127 Elks Place. Leon Fellman built the store’s first two floors in 1903. The five-story addition behind that first building dates to 1911.
To the left of the store stands the offices of the Texas Company, better known as Texaco. The billboard on the roof displays the company’s familiar star logo. That site is now a rental car parking lot. Texaco would later acquire the block at Canal and Marais Street. They built the “green building” there, as their headquarters, in the 1960s.
To the right of Krauss is Terminal Station. The Frisco Railroad formed the New Orleans Terminal Company in 1907 to build the station, which was completed in 1908. While there isn’t any documentation to this effect, I’m certain that Fellman either knew about the railroad’s plans, or speculated correctly, when he purchased the properties in the 1201 block of Canal in 1899. A small station for the Spanish Fort train stood in the Basin Street neutral ground. The right-of-way established, it was easy for the railroad to build out from there. The station bears the name of Southern Railway in this photo. Southern acquired the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad, along with New Orleans Terminal Company, in 1916.
The smokestack, background right, marks the location of the Consumers Electric Company. The company leased the smokestack for advertising. It features Regent Shoes at this time. Regent Shoes aggressively placed ads on large outdoor fixtures and mis-matched wall space around the city.
While the Storyville District officially closed in 1917, many of the houses just to the left of Krauss remained in business, two years later. Anderson’s Saloon and the higher-end “sporting clubs” stood behind Krauss.
Tom Anderson advertised his Arlington Saloon in The Mascot.
Ad for the Arlington Saloon and Restaurant, 10-12 N. Rampart Street (later 112 N. Rampart, when the city’s address scheme changed) in the 3-April-1897 edition of The Mascot. Anderson and the saloon’s namesake, Josie Arlington, were two of the most well-known personalities of the Storyville District.
Thomas “Tom” Anderson developed extensive business and political connections while working for the Louisiana Lottery Corporation in the 1880s. He leveraged those connections, opening his first saloon in 1891. While he represented the Fourth Ward in the Louisiana Legislature, he didn’t serve until 1904. So, he wasn’t part of the government when The District opened. Anderson listened, watched, invested, and profited.
Arlington Saloon and Restaurant
One of Anderson’s early business partnerships was with Josie Lobrano. Lobrano operated a bordello on Basin Street. Anderson invested in the bordello. Josie Lobrano later went by the name Arlington.
This establishment, located outside Storyville, immediately grew in popularity. The saloon offered booths for customers seeking privacy. Anderson developed a reputation for keeping his mouth shut. So, politicians, cops, and businessmen met at the saloon. No doubt Anderson picked up useful tips from those meetings. The Arlington Saloon and Restaurant boasted “the latest tips on the races.” Sports bettors regularly frequented the Arlington.
The Arlington enabled Anderson to open up additional businesses in The District. He partnered with Billy Struve, a reporter for the New Orleans Daily Item, in The Astoria, an establishment on S. Rampart Street. They later purchased the building at the corner of Customhouse (now Iberville) and Basin Street. They named this saloon, Arlington Annex. This saloon eventually overshadowed the original Arlington. Since it was in The District, the Annex appeared in more illustrations and photographs.
This newspaper was, if you will, a forerunner to modern music and entertainment papers like Offbeat and The Gambit.
Basin Street 1900 – Before Terminal Station on Canal Street
View of the Storyville District, ca 1900.
Basin Street 1900
This postcard, published by C.B. Mason, shows the Storyville District, three to five years after it’s creation (legally). Here’s the note on the postcard:
“Bird’s-Eye View Of New Orleans LA. ”
View from high building on Canal Street looking towards “Storyville” district. Of particular interest is the row of buildings seen fronting Basin Street, including Tom Anderson’s Josie Arlington’s and Lulu White’s, and “the District” behind it. This is one of the few published cards showing what history recalls as “Storyville”.
There are a lot of shots of Storyville, the section of Faubourg Treme from Canal Street to the Carondelet Canal, but this one of Basin Street 1900 caught my eye for several reasons. The photographer stands on a building on Canal Street. It looks like he’s on the old Mercier Building, at 901 Canal. This was Maison Blanche, before S.J. Shwartz demolished it and built his larger store and office building. This photo shows the neighborhood just before Leon Fellman builds the 2-story retail building at 1201 Canal Street. That building becomes Krauss Department Store.
Trains before 1908
1896 Sanborn Map, Canal and Basin Streets
Trains didn’t travel much on Basin Street 1900. The big passenger terminal opens in 1908. The first two blocks off Canal, Basin to Customhouse (now Iberville), then to Bienville, supported the excursion train to Spanish Fort. So, this 1896 Sanborn map shows the tracks and small station for that Spanish Fort train. Passengers boarded at Canal, then the tracks turned lakebound on Bienville. Note the buildings in the 1201 block of Canal. The Krauss building isn’t there yet. Furthermore, it was a lot quieter at this time, without the trains.
“Down the Line”
Zoom of the CB Mason Postcard of Storyville, 1900ish
This zoom of the postcard shows the same area of the well-known, “Basin Street Down the Line” photo. Two horse-drawn carriages or wagons head riverbound on Custom House. First of all, that’s Tom Anderson’s Saloon behind them, on the corner. Then, in the middle of the street, there’s a passenger stand and shed, for the railroad. So, the tracks are visible.
A few doors down from Tom Anderson’s, Josie Arlington’s “sporting palace” with its distinctive cupola welcomes customers.
1911 view of Canal and Basin Streets
This 1911 postcard shows the changes within a decade. Krauss Department Store stands at 1201. So, Terminal Station swallows up Basin street for blocks. The New Orleans and North Eastern (NO&NE) Railroad moved over from Press Street in the Bywater to Canal Street. NO&NE became part of the Southern Railway system in 1916. As a result of the merger, the station’s main sign changed to reflect the merger.
Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store
Cover of Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store, by Edward J. Branley
The cover of the Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store
And here it is! Here’s the back-cover text:
For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders, and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.
Krauss book drops on 25-September
I’m excited! This was a fun story to tell. So much here–Jewish retailing families, Storyville, the Creoles of Treme, transportation…even a Pontchartrain Beach connection! From Leon Fellman to the Krauss Brothers, to Leon Heymann, his son, Jimmy, grandson Jerry, Krauss was a family operation. Like many department stores, Krauss was a large extended family. Krauss to touched many people over the years.
The book chronicles the store’s how Leon Fellman decided to buy up the 1200 block of Canal Street. He built a store that the length of the block. Fellman leased that building to the Krauss brothers. They turned the building into a “veritable trade palace” whose lifetime spanned almost the entire 20th Century. Krauss rode the highs and lows of New Orleans, including two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the post-war boom years of the 1950s and 1960s. The store didn’t pop up at once, of course, growing back from Fellman’s original building. Krauss eventually filled up the entire block from Canal to Iberville Street, then the block behind that, Iberville Street to Bienville Street! The store was right in front of Storyville, right next to the train station, as well as in the hearts of many.