NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows

NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows

NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows on Twelfth Night.

NORTA 922, a vintage arch roof streetcar, serves as transportation for the Phunny Phorty Phellows on Twelfth Night, 2023.

NORTA 922 and the Phunny Phorty Phellows, Twelfth Night, 2023. Kerri Becker photo.

Seeing NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows is a treat.

The Phunny Phorty Phellows (PPP) announce the arrival of the Carnival season. While there are other organizations parading on Twelfth Night, PPP are the senior members of the cohort. We’ve written a bit about PPP here, but the star of this post isn’t the krewe. It’s the streetcar! NORTA 922 is one of the remaining vintage 1923-24 arch roof streetcars designed by Perley A. Thomas. They dominated the New Orleans transit landscape from their debut to the conversion of the Canal Street line to buses in 1964. There are 35 remaining 900-series cars.

A streetcar numbered 922

While any of the “green streetcars” is more than capable of transporting PPP on their run, NORTA 922 adds a bit of flair to the proceedings. It’s the streetcar from the streetcar movie. The film adaptation of Tennesee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire required a streetcar. The rail department of New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) chose car 922 to be the streetcar. The movie opens with it, and the rest is, well, less history and more legend.

Imposter, Desired

So, NORTA 922 was a movie star. By the 1970s, however, an imposter took credit for 922’s starring role! NOPSI 453, a wood-frame Brill streetcar, received the appelation, “Streetcar Named Desire.” This streetcar functioned for decades as the “training car.” NOPSI installed it at their facility on Tchoupitoulas Street and Napoleon Avenue. They rigged the operator’s console with the same equipment as the 900-series. New-hire motormen (and the “motorettes” during WWII) trained on 453. It was set up to rock and bump. Senior motormen taught the new folks.

As streetcar service in New Orleans dwindled, so did the training needs. NOPSI 453 stood idle. The story of how this streetcar became identified with the movie is fascinating. I invite you to go read this article by Earl W. Hampton, Jr. and H. George Friedman, Jr., for details and lots of photos.

922 back at work

In the meantime, NOPSI 922 went back to work on the St. Charles line. It’s done its duty well, coming up on a century of service. One of those duties is charter rides, like the PPP. On Twelfth Night, the news folks and photographers head to Carrollton Station to see off the year’s designated driver. They file their stories and go home, as the streetcar rolls the krewe down S. Carrollton Avenue, turning onto St. Charles Avenue. They announce the start of Carnival along St. Charles. When the streetcar reaches Tivoli Circle, the streetcar circles around. It becomes an outbound car, returning to the barn.

Streetcar identification

On a side note, streetcar 922 started live as NOPSI 922, and was designated as such from when it first rolled out of the barn. In 1983, NOPSI transferred its transit division to a new entity. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority assumed control of the city’s transit routes and assets. So, those 35 green streetcars switched to the new notation.

Happy Carnival!

Sugar Bowl Dining 1956

Sugar Bowl Dining 1956

Sugar Bowl dining options were extensive in 1956

NOPSI ad, 31-Dec-1956

Ride the bus or streetcar to the game, come back to the French Quarter for fine dining.

Enjoying Sugar Bowl Dining

With fans from Baylor University and the University of Tennessee in town for the Sugar Bowl game on New Year’s Day, even the established, “old line” restaurants took out ads in the Times-Picayune.

Brennan’s

Brennan's, 31-Dec-1956

Beakfast at Brenna’s, all day.

Brennan’s French Restaurant served “Breakfast At Brennan’s,” with Eggs Hussarde or Eggs St. Denis, all day long. They also recommended Lamb Chops Mirabeau, as well as the rest of a very popular menu of French cuisine. Brennan’s, Still There More at 417 Royal Street, across from the Louisiana Supreme Court building.

Restaurant Antoine

Restaurant Antoine, 31-December-1956

Restaurant Antoine

“the gourmet’s choice…The House of Antoine for 117 years…National polls have placed Antoine’s top on their list of fine restaurants of America and the world. Antoine’s Restaurant, 713 St. Louis Street in the French Quarter. Roy L. Alciatore, Proprieter.

Arnaud’s

Arnaud's, 31-Dec-1956

Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter.

Germaine Cazenave Wells, Owner and Manager of Restaurant Arnaud’s, and daughter of Count Arnaud, the founder, welcomed Sugar Bowl visitors. “The Paris of the South,” Arnaud’s, still at 813 Bienville Street.

Commander’s Palace

Commander's Palace, 31-Dec-1956

Commander’s Palace in the Garden District

“a command performance for generations, the toast of Kings and Queens of Mardi Gras, Commander’s Palace where each meal is a command performance–delicious french cuisine expertly prepared and graciously served.”

Since 1880, Commander’s Palace – “Dining in the Grand Manner,” Washington Avenue at Coliseum.

Lenfant’s

Lenfant's, 31-Dec-1956

Lenfant’s, Poydras and S. Claiborne and Canal Blvd.

Lenfant’s operated two locations in 1956, 537 S. Claiborne and Poydras, and 5236 Canal Blvd. The Special Turkey New Year’s Dinner served to 4 P. M., a la carte after 4pm. “Plenty of Parking Space Available at Both Locations.” Lenfant’s, particularly the Canal Blvd. location, attracted locals not looking to mingle with football visitors.

Pittari’s

T. Pittari's, 31-December-1956

T. Pittari’s, 31-December-1956

“The Famous T. Pittari’s – Directly on your route–to and from The Sugar Bowl Game” at 4200 So. Claiborne. Pittari’s aggressive marketing via downtown hotels attracted visitors. While they came for the lobster and other exotic dishes, locals went to Pittari’s for their popular Creole-Italian dishes.

Happy New Year!

 

Loyola Stadium at @loyola_nola

Loyola Stadium at @loyola_nola

Located on campus, Loyola Stadium was home to the university’s football team in the 1930s.

loyola stadium

Loyola Stadium, 1938. Photographer: Dr. Edward W. Wynne, courtesy Loyola Special Collections.

Loyola Stadium

Night shot of Loyola Stadium at Loyola University, New Orleans, 1938. While the venue takes the name of the school, several photographs identify it as “Joseph Fromherz Stadium.” The venue opened in 1928. This photo–which is stamped on the back with, “Photography by // F. A. // McDaniels // NEW ORLEANS, LA.”–shows what is likely a night practice for the Loyola squad. There’s no crowd or support staff visible. Loyola Stadium was one of the first in the South to host night games.

Loyola Stadium

The end zone clock says, “Courtesy Porter’s.” Porter’s was a menswear store in the CBD. The stadium was demolished at some point after the 1939 football season.

Loyola Football

joseph fromherz stadium

Coupon for discounted reserved seats to the Loyola – Chattanooga football game, 5-Nov-1932.

This article’s inspiration was a coupon printed in the Times-Picayune on 1-November-1932. Maison Blanche sponsored a deal for $1 reserved seat tickets to the Loyola-Chattanooga football game the following Saturday. I post ads from local newspapers to social media during the week, and shared this one. The ads spark conversation and help promote my books. A few people commented that they didn’t know Loyola had a football stadium. So, off to the Loyola archives I went.

Freret and Calhoun

loyola stadium

Aerial photo of Loyola Stadium, 1924. Franck Studios courtesy THNOC.

Here’s an aerial photo of the stadium by Franck Studios from 1924. Loyola Stadium stood at the back of the campus, on Freret Street, just off Calhoun. It’s unclear who Loyola is playing here, but the image offers a good view of Freret Street in the 1920s.

loyola stadium

Photo of a Loyola football game, 1938. Loyola University Special Collections.

This action photo shows a billboard listing the Loyola football schedule. While it’s dated by the library as 1938, the stadium appears to only be a single-deck. That doesn’t fit with other photos. I’m wondering if this is from a different location.

Changing times

Loyola discontinued its football program in 1939. The stadium was demolished some time after that. In its place rose the Loyola Field House. The university decided in 1954 that their intercollegiate basketball team needed a better home. So, up went the Field House. While nothing indicates that buildings were demolished to make way for the Field House in 1954, there’s no clear record of what stood on the site between the stadium and the arena.

Steam to Mules NO&CRR

Steam to Mules NO&CRR

Mules NO&CRR transition took place in the 1840s.

origins NO&CRR

Continuing the New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad Story

I spoke to the Friends of the Cabildo Tour Guides at their monthly meeting this past Monday. They had me in to discuss the origins of the NO&CRR (New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad), which evolved into the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. I’ll be presenting the talk via blog posts here. We discussed the origins of the line, now we move to the transition to mules from steam power.

Mules NO&CRR

While steam power made sense to the management of the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad, residents along the Carrollton Line (which later became the St. Charles Avenue Line) grew unhappy. Steam trains are noisy and smokey. As New Orleans annexed what is now the Garden District, more people built fine houses close to the line.City officials pressured the railroad to abandon steam engines. Mules NO&CRR began in the 1840s.

Mules on the line

Naiads and Napoleon, 1860. Lilienthal photo, halfway for Mules NO&CRR

Naiads and Napoleon, 1860. Lilienthal photo, halfway point for Mules NO&CRR

Theodore Lilienthal photo of Naiads and Napoleon Avenues, 1860. The railroad built their facilities for the Carrollton line here. The intersection was more-or-less half-way between the CBD and the city of Carrollton.

mules no&crr

St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues in 1948. Compare the difference with 1860.

mules no&crr

Section from the Robinson Atlas, 1883, showing streetcar tracks around St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues. The half-way facilities for the railroad expanded over the twenty years since the Lilienthal photo. The black dot on St. Charles is a turntable. If you’ve been to San Francisco, you’ve seen this type of turntable. Here, the driver leads the mule out of the barn, placing the car on the turntable. He then walked the mule around, lining up with the track on the street, and off they went.

The building on the right housed the streetcars and the mules. Superior Seafood and Fat Harry’s stand there now. The buildings on the left (lake) side of St. Charles are now the Lower School for the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Downtown on the line

mules no&crr

The corner of St. Charles and Canal Streets in 1850. Notice there are NO streetcar tracks! That’s because the Carrollton line continued to use Baronne Street. While the steam trains terminated at Poydras and Baronne, the streetcars went all the way to Canal Street. The drivers turned around on a turntable on Baronne.

So, there were no streetcars yet on either St. Charles or Canal. The Canal line opened in 1861. The lighter-colored building in the background of this illustration is the first incarnation of the St. Charles Hotel. This building burned down in 1851. The second incarnation opened in 1853.

mules no&crr

This 1856 map shows downtown New Orleans (CBD) in 1856. The streetcars came down Naiads to Tivoli Circle. Like the modern line, they curved around to Delord Street, now Howard Avenue. Unlike the modern line, the Carrollton line went up to Baronne, then turned right. Baronne Street had two tracks with a turntable to change direction.

The streetcars

mules no&crr

The railroad purchased and operated “Bob-Tail” streetcars from the Stephenson Car Company, from the 1850s until the line electrified in 1893. The driver attached the mule to the right side of the car in this photograph. The single-truck design made for a less-than-smooth ride. Still, the cars were as good as it got for the time.

mules no&crr

While the bob-tails did most of the work on the line, the railroad experimented with alternatives. After the Southern Rebellion, PGT Beauregard returned to New Orleans. The railroad employed him as president in the 1870s. Being an engineer, Beauregard entertained a number of different ideas for streetcars. This car used canisters of ammonia gas to propel the car. This drawing is by Alfred Waud. It includes a small drawing of a white woman, and another of a black woman, along with Gus.

mules no&crr

The Lamm Thermo-Specific locomotive operated on the line in 1874. The engine’s “fireless” design enabled quiet operation. So, the engine carried a large bottle/canister containing compressed air, steam. The engineer released the steam and the engine moved forward. The Lamm engines pulled 1-2 bobtail cars. The railroad discontinued operations of the Lamms, because of having tor re-charge the canisters.

To Be Continued…

We’ll move on to electrification next time.

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922 had a rose theme.

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922

Krewe of Proteus chose “The Romance of the Rose” for their theme in 1922. Thanks to the Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, for maintaining the krewe’s archives. Those archives include design sketches of their floats throughout the years. This post features three floats from that parade, “The Painted Wall,” “Love Conquers All,” and “Sir Mirth’s Garden.”

Proteus first paraded in 1882. They took a hiatus from 1993 to 2004, because of the controversial “Mardi Gras Ordinance” of 1993. Proteus returned to the streets in 2004. The krewe quarantined in 2021, but plan to parade on Lundi Gras 2022.

Le Roman de la Rose

Proteus 1922

Title float, Proteus, 1922

Like the other “old line,” debutante krewes, Proteus often chose themes from literature and history. “The Romance of the Rose” is a typical choice. From Wikipedia:

Le Roman de la Rose (The Romance of the Rose) is a medieval poem written in Old French and presented as an allegorical dream vision. As poetry, The Romance of the Rose is a notable instance of courtly literature, purporting to provide a “mirror of love” in which the whole art of romantic love is disclosed. Its two authors conceived it as a psychological allegory; throughout the Lover’s quest, the word Rose is used both as the name of the titular lady and as an abstract symbol of female sexuality.

To put this in Carnival terms, the poem offered the krewe a fertile ground for beautiful costumes and floats. Even if most of the parade-goers in 1922 had no idea about the poem, red! roses! costumes! The float designs lived up to the ambition.

“The Painted Wall”

Proteus 1922

“The Painted Wall”

Standing between “The Lover,” and the object of his desire, “The Rose,” was “The Painted Wall.” To reach his desire, the wall required our protagonist to overcome the trials of Poverty, Villainy, and Hate, among others. This float creates positions for six riders a side, with The Lover up front.

“Sir Mirth’s Garden”

"Sir Mirth's Garden" Proteus 1922

“Sir Mirth’s Garden” Proteus 1922

Once he passes The Painted Wall, The Lover approaches the walled garden of Sir Mirth. Inside, he encounters couples dancing, led by Sir Mirth Lady Gladness.

Love Conquers All

proteus 1922

“Omnia Vincit Amor”

This float bears the saying, “Omnia Vincit Amor” on the side. “Love Comquers All.” At the front of the float stands The Lover. The Rose, an artistic blending of a lovely flower with a woman at the center, highlights the float.

Floats then and now

Proteus 1922 floats sit atop old wooden wagons. The krewe use these same wagons to this day (well, to be sure, they’re regularly maintained/rebuilt). Proteus limits its size, so mega-floats are unnecessary. Additionally, a number of the members of Proteus also belong to other “old-line” krewes. It’s important to remember, these organizations present their daughters and granddaughters to society at their respective balls. Before the growth of parading organizations, the actual old-line parades served as glorified transportation to the bal masque.

 

 

Napoleon Avenue Tunnel

Napoleon Avenue Tunnel

The Napoleon Avenue Tunnel proposal would connect Uptown to a new bridge.

proposal for a napoleon avenue tunnel to a second bridge, 1970

Napoleon Avenue Tunnel

Diagram of proposed approaches to a second bridge across the Mississippi River at New Orleans. The concept was to use Napoleon Avenue as a major traffic approach to the bridge. Instead of wiping out the neighborhood, cars would come to the bridge via a tunnel.

This diagram was published in the Times-Picayune on 17-January-1970. The traffic congestion on the original bridge grew to the point where it was clear a second bridge was necessary.

The first bridge

The Greater New Orleans Mississippi River Bridge opened to traffic in April, 1958. New Orleanians relied on ferries for the 250 years prior to its opening. As the Interstate Highway System grew in the 1950s, a bridge across the river at New Orleans made sense. (Ironically, the Interstate system uses the bridge at Baton Rouge). While the metro area had a bridge in Jefferson Parish (the Huey P. Long Bridge), that structure was designed for railroad use, with automobile lanes tacked on.

So, with states and the federal government throwing money into highway expansion and improvements after WWII, New Orleans got a bridge. It was five lanes, two in each direction with an emergency lane in the center.

By the late 1960s, the West Bank of the NOLA metro area grew dramatically. Algiers and Gretna appealed to younger residents looking to get out of their parents’ houses in town. Housing on the West Bank was affordable. You just had to cross the bridge.

Building a new bridge

Lots of proposals came forward for a second bridge. Locations ranged from Uptown by the parish line to down in Chalmette. From an access and traffic perspective, putting a bridge at Napoleon Avenue made some sense. The Jackson Avenue ferry put people out in downtown Gretna. Put a bridge just upriver, and you split the difference between Gretna and Harvey. Folks going to Algiers would continue to use the existing bridge.

While the concept looked interesting, it never got past this diagram. A tunnel? In New Orleans? Good luck with that. And the construction! Those who argued against tearing up Napoleon Avenue for a tunnel and bridge approach were vindicated in recent years with the nightmare that was drainage upgrades on that street. Combine that with the general NIMBY factor from every neighborhood, and we ended up with a second bridge next to the first one.

Still, ideas spark discussion, and a bit of amusement after fifty years.