Canal and Carondelet Streets – Two Views

Canal and Carondelet Streets – Two Views

Two views of Canal and Carondelet, fifty years apart!

canal and carondelet

Canal and Carondelet Streets

Two views of a busy part of Canal Street, the corner at Carondelet. The older image dates to the 1870s, the later one dates to the 1920s. While many things changed, there are a few constants between the views.

Canal Street, West from Clay statue

Photographer Clarence John Laughlin created this copy print of a photo from the 1870s around 1955. Here’s THNOC’s record entry:

Print of a 18th century photograph showing Canal Street with streetcars in neutral ground and businesses and houses of worship lining the street.

The original photographer (Blessing Studios, perhaps?) stands at the Clay Statue at St. Charles Street and Canal, looking towards the lake.The Canal Streetcar line opened in 1861. So, the mule-drawn streetcars dominated Canal Street by the time of this photo. The 700 block contains Moreau’s Restaurant, a book store, and a “Wig Manufactory.” The building with the corner turret and cupola is the Pickwick Hotel. It housed the Pickwick Club, a private businessman’s club with close ties to the Mystick Krewe. The hotel provided meeting and dining space to the club, and adopted their name.

The neutral ground contains a number of Stephenson “bobtail” streetcars. These mule-drawn cars operated on most lines in New Orleans, most notably the Carrollton, Canal, and Esplanade routes. To the right, the 801 block includes the D. H. Holmes dry goods store, mid-block.

The third incarnation of Christ Episcopal Church stands a block up, at 901 Canal. The church put their beautiful gothic building up for auction in 1884. The Mercier family purchased it. They demolished the church (which moved uptown to St. Charles and Sixth Streets), building a retail/office building. Mule-driven hack cabs stand in the foreground on the right, waiting for customers.

Carondelet in the 1920s

canal and carondelet

John Tibule Mendes shot a photo of the Louisiana Club in the 700 block of Canal in 1920. Here’s the second photo’s record entry at THNOC:

 View made from downriver side of Canal Street looking into Carondelet Street and the Central Business District. Buildings, mostly along the 700 and the corner at the 800 block, are visible, as are facades along the 100 block of Carondelet. The Louisiana Club, started around 1879, located at the corner of Canal and Carondelet for many years, is seen in mid-view. This club sponsors the High Priests of Mithras carnival ball. Pedestrians, a streetcar, and various business signs are also seen.

The record notes that the Louisiana Club started in the late 1870s, just after the date of the first photograph. While much at the corner has changed, the Pickwick Hotel building remains. In the interim, the Pickwick Club moved across the street to the 1000 block, then to its current location at St. Charles and Canal. Like the Pickwick Club, the Louisiana Club (now most closely associated with the Knights of Momus Carnival organization) is still around.

The right-hand side of Mendes’ photo shows the transition of streetcars from the earlier shot. The streetcar is a “single-truck,” Ford, Bacon & Davis model, operated by New Orleans Railway and Light Company. (NOPSI doesn’t form for another three years.) The turret of the Pickwick Hotel is visible, but the building is no longer a hotel. Local merchant Leon Fellman acquired the building in 1897. He moved his store from the Mercier Building in the 901 block to 800 Canal that year. By the time of the photo, 1920, Fellman passed away. His family returned to the German spelling of their last name, and the store changed its name to Feibleman’s.

We’ll unpack these photos in individual posts in the future. The compare/contrast here fascinated me, so we’re starting with that .

Later changes

Changes to buildings on Canal continued to change. While Feibleman’s moved to Baronne and Common streets in 1931, the building remained until 1947. Gus Mayer demolished it, building a larger location for their store. That building remains as the CVS Drugstore.

Riding the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar by Donabeth Jones

Riding the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar by Donabeth Jones

Artist Donabeth Jones captured a common New Orleans scene #watercolorwednesday.

Donastreetcar watercolor by Donabeth Jones

Donabeth Jones – Riding the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar

Watercolor by artist Donabeth Jones. The painting presents a family on the streetcar. Here’s the record in the LDL:

 Interior view of a streetcar showing a woman holding a baby and a girl sitting on a seat. Behind them is a man dressed in blue shirt, pants and baseball cap. The woman wears a pink dress, yellow hat and earrings and gray shoes. The small boy in her arms is dressed in yellow; the young girl wears a blue dress, pink hair ribbon, white anklets and white Mary Jane shoes.

While Jones painted this watercolor in 1997, the well-dressed mother and daughter harken back to earlier times. Perhaps this family rode the streetcar to church. Folks shopped casually in 1997. Canal Street declined as a shopping destination by the 1980s.

The streetcar

The St. Charles Streetcar line switched to the 1923-vintage arch roof streetcars towards the end of the 1920s. Under New Orleans Railway & Light (NORwy&Lt), the 400-series arch roofs ran on this line. So, both were designed by Perley A. Thomas. Thomas designed the arch roofs for Southern Car Company. He started his own company to fill a second order for arch roofs in 1923. New Orleans Public Service, Incorporate (NOPSI) operated the transit system at that time. So, they continued using the design.

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) continues operation of the arch roofs to this day. Additionally, NORTA maintains the streetcars to the specifications of their National Historic Landmark designation. Mom, daughter, and baby sit on one of the wooden bench seats. The back of the seat is hinged. So, when the streetcar changes from outbound to inbound, riders can flip the sit to sit forward. The young man behind them sits on a bench seat mounted into the side of the streetcar. Those seats are right behind the operator. He would be expected to give up that seat close to the door for a rider with special needs.

NOLA History Guy December (7) – Canal Street, 1906

NOLA History Guy December (7) – Canal Street, 1906

NOLA History Guy December continues with a Canal Streetcar image.

nola history guy december

Ford, Bacon, and Davis

Alexander Allison captured four New Orleans Railway and Light (NORwy&Lt) streetcars in this image of the 801 and 901 blocks of Canal Street. The stores display red,white, and blue bunting and banners, marking Independence Day, 1906. There are several Allison images in New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line.

Three single-truck cars designed by Ford, Bacon, and Davis (FBD) roll up and down Canal Street. The streetcar on the left rolls on the outside inbound (towards the river) track. The two outside tracks on Canal enabled the lines converging on the main street to turn around. For example, a car coming up Royal Street would turn onto Canal for a block, then turn onto Bourbon Street. While the modern St. Charles line does something similar with Carondelet Street and St. Charles Avenue, St. Charles operated in “belt” service with Tulane at the time of this photograph.

The car on the left-center track also travels to the river. It will circle around Liberty Place, then proceed on its outbound run.

The third single-truck rolls outbound (towards the lake) on the outside track. It will turn either on Dauphine (by the Mercier Building), or go up to N. Rampart Street.

The fourth streetcar in the photo is a double-truck “Palace” car. It’s running on the Canal/Esplanade belt. If it’s running on Esplanade (the roll board displaying the route isn’t visible), the motorman will steer the car to N. Rampart. If the car operates on Canal or West End, it’s heading towards the cemeteries.

The buildings

Most of the 801 block buildings remain the  same today. The Mercier Building looms in the background, at 901 Canal Street. It’s the home of Maison Blanche Department Store. The company will replace this building with the 13-story one we all know well in a year.

The photographer

Alexander Allison was an engineer for the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board. He was also a prolific photographer, taking photos all around the city. His job took him to every corner of Orleans Parish. His photo collection is maintained by the New Orleans Public Library.

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

The clanging of a streetcar’s bell conjures images of a time when street railways were a normal part of life in the city. Historic Canal Street represents the common ground between old and new with buses driving alongside steel rails and electric wires that once guided streetcars.

New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets.

Podcast 37 – Street Railways of Algiers and Gretna #podcast

Podcast 37 – Street Railways of Algiers and Gretna #podcast

Street railways connected Algiers with Gretna and even Marrero.

Westbank Streetcars

I had the privilege of speaking to the Algiers Historical Society last month, on the subject of street railways on the Westbank. I’d spoken to the group on East Bank subjects in the past, so it was fun to dive into an Algiers topic.

Street Railways pod format

So, I didn’t record the original talk, I sat down this week with the Powerpoint presentation and did it as a Zoom. Zoom generates both video and audio recordings. I uploaded the video recording to YouTube. Video podcasts have been a thing for a while, so we’ll join that bandwagon.

I’ve also included a PDF of the slides, for those of you who listen to the audio format, along with images from the presentation.

Early Years

street railways

Portion of the Robinson Atlas, New Orleans, 1883, showing Algiers Point

 

street railways

Louis Hennick map showing street rail in Algiers, 1895

 

Sketch of planned Algiers Coruthouse, 1896

Electrification

street railways

1907 Photo of the first electric streetcar in Algiers

Louis Hennick map of Westbank street railways in 1916

Conversion to buses

 

 

St. Charles Street, 1880

St. Charles Street, 1880

St. Charles Street in 1880

St. Charles Street

Canal and St. Charles

The 100-200 blocks of St. Charles Street, looking up from Canal Street, 1880. This is one side of a stereoscope card from S. T. Blessing Studios on Canal. The foreground shows the 100 block of St. Charles. Meyer The Hatter and Kolb’s Restaurant open on St. Charles fifteen-ish years later. The St. Charles Hotel dominates the background of the photo. Two Stephenson “bobtail” streetcars travel up St. Charles. They run on the Great Northern Station line. The Carrollton line still came to Canal Street via Baronne. I decided to change my profile picture on Twitter (yes, I’m still on Da Twittah, as @NOLAHistoryGuy) to this image.

St. Charles Street

No, that’s not a typo. At this time, the city listed the portion of St. Charles between Canal Street and Tivoli Circle as a “street.” Above Tivoli Circle, it morphed into “Naiads Street.” The New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad Company named their streetcar line for its destination, the City of Carrollton. Carrollton served as the seat of Jefferson Parish. Orleans Parish later annexed the area. So, the line ran up Naiads to Carrollton Avenue. It cnnected the CBD with the eastern end of Jefferson.

Tivoli Circle

The circle was named after Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. During the Southern Rebellion, it was used as an encampment for both Union and Rebel soldiers. The White League erected their monument to the traitor Lee in 1884. That statue was removed by the city in 2017, and the circle is now known as Harmony Circle, renamed by a unanimous vote of the City Council in 2021.

The hotel

This photo shows the second incarnation of the St. Charles Hotel. It opened in 1853, after the first incarnation (the one with the dome and rotunda) burned down. This building burned down in 1894. The third incarnation replaced it. That hotel was demolished in 1974. The Place St. Charles office building (now the Capital One Building) replaced it in the 200 block.

 

 

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!