NOPSI 934 and 935 were Canal Line Arch roofs in the 1960s.
NOPSI 934 and 935 at the Cemeteries Terminal, 17-Feb-1960. Photographer unknown. Thanks to Aaron for the find.
Canal Line Arch Roofs
900-series streetcars operating as Canal Line arch roofs, 17-February-1960. I can’t make out the ads on either streetcar; if you can, let me know! NOPSI 934 and 935 sit at the Cemeteries Terminal. Tennessee Williams mentions the “cemeteries” in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” While Williams employs a bit of artistic license, connecting Elysian Fields to the cemeteries, this is the real-life basis.
Perley A. Thomas streetcars
The arch roof design dates back to 1915. New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) acquired several from the Southern Car Company. Perley Thomas designed the streetcars. New Orleanians liked them. The streetcars offered decent seating and lots of windows for ventilation. Thomas opened his own streetcar company in High Point, NC. He took the arch roof design with him. NORwy&Lt’s successor company, New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) purchased two production runs of the arch roofs. They ordered the 800-series in 1923. NOPSI worked with Thomas, changing aspects of the design. That produced the 900 series. So, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, three generations of arch roofs operated in the city. The original 400s, then the 800s and 900s.
NOPSI kept 35 of the 900 series when they discontinued streetcar service on Canal in 1964.
The streetcar tracks at Canal Street and City Park Avenue underwent numerous changes over the years. After the West End line converted to bus service, the city cut the streetcar tracks back. Instead of turning left upon reaching City Park Avenue, the Canal line arch roofs terminated on Canal Street. They stopped in between Cypress Grove Cemetery and Odd Fellows Rest.
NOPSI designed this iteration of the terminal with two tracks and a double crossover. This is similar to the terminal built at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues uptown. When NOPSI discontinued belt service on the St. Charles, Tulane switched to buses. St. Charles ended at S. Claiborne. That location remains the line’s endpoint today.
Back on Canal Street, the line used this terminal until 1964. When NORTA restored streetcar service on Canal in 2004, they built a single-track terminal. This was meant to be temporary. The line now ends in the 5500 block of Canal Boulevard, between Greenwood and St. Patrick No. 3 cemeteries.
Metairie Cemetery at the turn of the 20th Century.
Detroit Publishing Company postcard of Metairie Cemetery, circa 1905. The state granted the Metairie Cemetery Association a charter in 1872. So, at the time of this photo, the cemetery was about thirty years old.
The cemetery sits on the Metairie Ridge, next to Bayou Metairie. The Metairie Race Course, occupied the location prior to the cemetery. The race track opened in 1838. Metairie Race Course operated until 1861. The horse track became an army encampment in 1862. That camp stood empty after the rebels ran from the city.
Racetrack to Cemetery
Charles T. Howard, desired to join the Metairie Jockey Club. The club owned Metairie Race Course. Howard was a local businessman. The membership declined his application. Outraged, Howard vowed to buy the race track. He told the membership it would become a cemetery. Both club and race course declared bankruptcy after the rebellion. Howard acquired the property. He formed the Metairie Cemetery Association. The corporation hired architect Benjamin Morgan Harrod to convert the property into a cemetery.
Harrod’s incorporated the racing oval into the cemetery’s design. Rows of tombs and copings, like the one in this photo, follow that pattern. The race track’s infield became “Millionaire’s Row.” Charles Howard’s tomb stands along the infield.
Detroit Publishing Company
This publisher sold postcards from across the United States. They built their catalog by encouraging local photographers. A photographer in, say, New Orleans, shot film in and around their home. They sent the exposed film to Detroit Publishing. The company developed the film. They sent new film back. If the company found postcard potential, they printed the photos. The company sent prints to artists in the photograph’s locale. The artists colorized the photos. They returned them to Detroit Publishing. The company produced the postcards. They sold postcards to newstands, hotels, etc.
Detroit Publishing Company postcards grew in popularity. Collectors kept them. Benefactors donated the collections to libraries. Additionally, heirs to Detroit Publishing Company donated the company’s prints to the Library of Congress.
Hebrew Rest Cemetery, just off of Elysian Fields Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard.
Hebrew Rest Cemetery
This aerial shot of Gentilly captures both sections of Hebrew Rest Cemetery. Latter and Blum commissioned this aerial set. The set documents the development of shopping centers running from Frenchmen Street to Elysian Fields Avenue in 1961. Hebrew Rest Cemetery predates those shopping centers by 100 years.
Jewish congregations formed in New Orleans in the 1820s. By the 1840s, those congregations built cemeteries. They started at the end of Canal Street. As the city grew, more cemeteries were needed. Additionally, diseases like Yellow Fever struck New Orleans. In 1860, the city’s oldest congregation, Shangari Chasset, acquired land n Gentilly for a cemetery.
Reform Jews in New Orleans formed Congregation Temple Sinai in 1870. Shangari Chasset turned over all of their cemetery properties to Temple Sinai two years later.
The congregation re-organized the Gentilly cemetery in 1872. They formed a separate corporation, the Hebrew Rest Cemetery Association. This separated the cemetery from a single congregation. In 1892, the Association purchased the land in Gentilly. So, they built Hebrew Rest #2. They constructed a third expansion in 1935.
Jewish tradition calls for in-ground burials. While we think of New Orleans cemeteries and their above-ground tombs, the city’s Jews weren’t the only ones who dug graves. So, a walk through St. Patrick Cemetery No 1, on Canal Street, reveals a number of in-ground graves. These graves are actually “copings.” Rather than simply a hole in the ground, a concrete frame surrounds a coping. Dirt fills the frame. So, the coping is an in-ground burial, but raised by a foot or two. This addresses concerns that the city’s high water table might push a coffin out of the ground.
Hebrew Rest sits on the Gentilly Ridge, one of the highest points in New Orleans.
Greenwood Cemetery 1930s via a Franck Studios photo.
Greenwood Cemetery 1930s
The Fireman’s Charitable and Benevolent Association (FCBA) incorporated in 1834. Its purpose was initially as a burial society. Firefighting was a volunteer job in the 19th Century. If a firefighter lost his life on the job, there were no survivor benefits. The family was left having to bury their loved one.
The fire companies recognized this problem. They formed the FCBA to take care of their fallen colleagues. Ten years after its founding, FCBA operated two cemeteries. Cypress Grove Cemetery stands on Canal Street and City Park Avenue, on the “river-uptown” side. FCBA built Greenwood Cemetery across from the end of Canal Street. Greenwood Cemetery stands witness to all the changes and developments in the Canal streetcar line in its 160-year history.
We’ve detailed the history of Greenwood and described its main monuments. This photo features two of those monuments, the Firemen’s and the BPOE Lodge 30 tumulus. FCBA built the Fireman’s Monument in 1884. By then, FCBA sold a number of plots in Cypress Grove and Greenwood. While Cypress Grove contained a number of “society” mausoleums, Greenwood sold more plots to families. Additionally, the demand for affordable cemetery plots increased in the wake of the Southern Rebellion. Greenwood’s design focused on offering plots large enough for one- or two-place tombs. The distance between tombs is minimal.
Even though the firefighter tombs were in Cypress Grove, the front of Greenwood offered the grand view. The Fireman’s Monument is a cenotaph, rather than a grave. Sculptor Alexander Doyle created the fireman statue. The statue represents firefighters of the time, rather than a specific fire company.
Lodge 30 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks desired a “society” tomb. They constructed a classic “mound” tumulus, similar to the Army of Tennessee (Louisiana Division) structure in Metairie Cemetery. The Lodge #30 tumulus features a massive statue of an elk on the top. Greenwood Cemeteries 1930s presents other large tombs in its front area.
Streetcars operated in all directions at Canal Street and City Park in the 1930s. The Canal/Esplanade Belts used tracks going right in this photo, heading on City Park Avenue. The West End line turned left at the end of Canal Street. Its streetcars traveled along the front of Greenwood Cemetery 1930s, then turned right to head out to the lakefront.
Greenwood Cemetery 1930s is a Franck Studios photo via HNOC.
St. Louis Cemetery stereograph Grant Rowles, an amateur photographer and collector, amassed this impressive collection of 389 stereograph photographs. This collection of vintage albumen prints of New Orleans and Louisiana date from mid 1860s to the early 20th century from 1880.
St. Louis Cemetery stereograph
Photo of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, located on Basin Street in Faubourg Treme. The perspective is from the Basin Street side of the cemetery, looking towards the lake. The cemetery opened in 1789. The Spanish Colonial government agreed with the church that the city’s original cemetery was at capacity. That cemetery, St. Peter’s, was located inside the French Quarter. The church purchased land just north of the Quarter, built the cemetery, then later built a mortuary chapel a block away.
Family tombs and society mausoleums
This St. Louis Cemetery stereograph shows the mix of individual/family tombs and “society” mausoleums. While many families purchased plots and built tombs, many New Orleanians lacked the means to bury their loved ones. So, they pooled their resources by forming “benevolent societies.” The oldest “society” tomb in St. Louis No. 1 is for the Orleans Artillery, one of the units that defended the city at Chalmette in 1815.
The New Orleans Italian Mutual Benevolent Society mausoleum is visible towards the back of the cemetery. This is the largest structure in the cemetery. Pietro Gualdi designed the mausoleum. Construction crews completed it in 1857. Like most burial societies, members buried their family members in these tombs for a much lower cost than required to buy a ‘single” or “double” tomb.
The stereograph format displayed here reached its peak popularity in the 1880s-1890s. Publishers printed photos twice, on a small card. The stereograph user placed the card in a viewer that featured magnifying glasses for each eye. When the user held the viewer up to their face, the placement of the photos created a 3D effect. This “stereo” feature enabled users to “travel” to interesting locals like New Orleans. They imagined themselves in the scene. Additionally, once the user owned the viewer, they could subscribe to various photo packages, delivered by mail.
This particular stereograph is part of a set from an unknown publisher. It came to the Louisiana State Museum as part of the Rowles Stereograph Collection. So, Grant Rowles was an amateur photographer who also collected stereographs, as LSM explains:
Grant Rowles, an amateur photographer and collector, amassed this impressive collection of 389 stereograph photographs. This collection of vintage albumen prints of New Orleans and Louisiana date from mid 1860s to the early 20th century
It’s interesting that the original collection titled this photo as of the “French Cemetery.” In the context of how various ethnic groups in the city built their own cemeteries (St. Louis cemeteries for the French, St. Patrick’s for the Irish, etc.), this is accurate. So, in true New Orleans fashion, an Italian tomb dominates the “French Cemetery.”
Chalmette Monument 1930s is a photo from a WPA-sponsored arts program.
Chalmette Monument 1930s
Photo of the monument at Chalmette National Battlefield commemorating the Battle of New Orleans, on 8-January-1815. The obelisk, 100 feet in height, looks over the battlefield, which is one of the five sites of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
Building the Obelisk
The Chalmette Monument 1930s originated in 1840. New Orleans marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the battle in 1840. The battlefield was essentially a sugarcane field in 1840. So, city leaders formed the Jackson Monument Association. They purchased the battlefield site. The association also acquired state funding. Part of the preservation plans included a large-scale monument. Members of the association gathered at the battlefield. They laid the cornerstone of the obelisk.
Construction of the obelisk moved slowly. While Jackson’s death in 1845 sparked interest in the project, the turmoil leading up to the Southern Rebellion stalled the project. So, the actual rebellion completely stalled the project.
The Southern Rebellion itself renewed interest in the battlefield site. While the site was privately held during the Union occupation, the US Army seized a portion of the land. They built a cemetery for both Union and rebel soldiers. Most of the early burials in the cemetery were United States Colored Troops. Rebels buried there were, over time, re-interred to other local cemeteries.
After the rebellion, the cemetery continued as a burial site for military personnel. The cemetery helped renew interest in preserving the overall battlefield site. The federal government designated the battlefield a National Historical Park in 1907. Federal ownership accelerated work on the monument.
The monument and the city
While there are much higher monuments around the US, the Chalmette Monument 1930s offers an incredible view of the battlefield. Chalmette is only about five miles from the city. So, that’s about the length of Canal Street.
Chalmette Battlefield was a long-standing destination for eighth-grade class field trips, as those students studied Louisiana History.
Chalmette Monument 1930s photo was shot by photographer Erol Barkemeyer. The Works Projects Administration (WPA) sponsored a number of arts and historic preservation projects in the late 1930s. So, these programs helped employ people across the nation during the Great Depression. Additionally, WPA programs contributed much to the citys infrastructure. The photo is part of the State Library of Louisiana’s WPA collection.