Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

a. shwartz and son

The Touro Buildings, ca. 1860

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

I didn’t research Abraham Shwartz too deeply when I wrote the Maison Blanche book. His son, Simon, was the main character there, being the founder of the department store chain. So, I made a few notes, wrote out the family tree, and got on with telling the story of MB.

A few years after the MB book, which came out in 2012, I developed an idea for a fiction project. It’s set in the 1860s in New Orleans. That idea came from an illustration I came across while researching the BOSH book. My fictional main character has encounters with fictional versions of real-life folks, and he told me that Abraham Shwartz was one of them.

Researching the shopkeeper

A. Shwartz and Son

Child’s coat, sold by A. Shwartz and Son, 1858. (Courtesy Civil War Talk user “RobertP”)

So, I needed to learn more about Abraham. I knew he was proprietor of the store that bore his name, in the 700 block of Canal Street. I knew he passed away in 1892, after that store burned in a massive fire that took out many of the shops in the Touro buildings. I needed to learn more about Abraham in 1860.

Off to the Internet I went! I still haven’t found a decent photo or portrait of Abraham. I found interesting things about the store, though. This girl’s coat was one of them. I found it on the site, Civil War Talk. Here’s the original post:

18thVa., several posts back I posted a picture of a g-g grandmother taken about 1868. Her daughter was my g-grandmother and I have a coat she wore as a child before the CW. The tie to this thread is that is was purchased by her father on a trip to New Orleans (their place was in N. La.) according to the label from A. Shwartz and Son, 161 Canal Street, NOLA, and a card pinned inside reads that she wore it in 1858 when she would have been 7 years old. The only reference to Abraham Schwartz Dry goods was after the war when he was located in the 700 block of Canal, and that it burned, he died, and his son reopened the mercantile business across the street that became Maison Blanche.

700 Block – Touro Buildings

The original poster has the addresses confused, which is not uncommon. Until 1900, Canal Street addresses started with “1” and went by building. After 1900, the addressed followed traditional block numbers. Therefore, 161 Canal Street became part of the 700 block.

Back to the coat! While this isn’t an image of Mr. Abraham, it’s still something from the time frame of the fiction project. You just know it’ll end up in the writing.

 

Maison Blanche Department Stores

by Edward J. Branley

mb book

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

On October 30, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building 13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors. The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character Mr. Bingle, in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Train Thursday

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Train Thursday

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Train Thursday.

Texas and Pacific

T&P Railway passenger train, leaving the Trans-Mississippi Passenger station, 1950s.

Texas and Pacific Railroad – Uptown, West Bank, Points West!

EMD E-8A #2011 leads a Texas and Pacific passenger train out of the Trans-Mississippi Passenger Station, New Orleans. Data on a Texas and Pacific Railway history website indicates this photo was shot in 1950-1951.

The second, “B” diesel unit is an EMD F-7B. I can’t find a roster number for that unit in this photo. Drop me a line (or comment) if you can identify it.

The Texas and Pacific Railway began operations in the state of Texas in 1871. The Missouri Pacific Railroad acquired a majority share of the T&P in 1928. While they essentially owned T&P, MoPac operated T&P independently until 1976. MoPac merged into the Union Pacific in 1980. Because of lawsuits and regulatory issues, however, the merger was not complete until 1997.

Texas and Pacific Station

Texas and Pacific

Trans-Mississippi Passenger Station, uptown New Orleans.

The “Trans Mississippi Passenger Station” stood on Annunciation Street, uptown, between Thalia and Melpomene Streets. So, this station is one of the five consolidated into Union Passenger Terminal. We’ll do a full article on it in the future.

The Louisiana Eagle

texas and pacific

Texas and Pacific Railway passenger ticket, 1940s.

These locos are likely pulling the “Louisiana Eagle”, the “name train” that ran from New Orleans to Dallas/Ft. Worth on the T&P. The Louisiana Eagle departed New Orleans at 7:50pm, arrived in Dallas at 8:05am the next morning, terminating at 9:05am in Ft. Worth. So, it was an overnight train.

While the Huey P. Long Bridge carried trains, Texas and Pacific used train ferries to cross the Mississippi. The trains would leave the Annunciation Street terminal, then go to the riverfront. The cars boarded a rail ferry boat for the crossing. The train re-formed, stopping at the Gretna station on Fourth Street. They would then go on their way.

The typical consist of the Louisiana Eagle was an E-8 or F-7 locomotive, then five cars (presumably baggage, two sleepers, diner, and a coach). I don’t have a definite consist list, so if you do, let me know.

 

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

mid-city railroading

L&N Train leaving Canal Street, 1940s (Ron Flanery photo)

Mid-City Railroading – late 1940s

I ran out to the UNO Library a couple of weeks ago, chasing down some old railroad maps. I remembered seeing a set of maps there a few years back, but resisted the temptation to go totally down the rabbit hole on railroad stuff. One of the things that did stick with me, though, was that there was a railroad engine terminal behind Greenwood Cemetery, more or less where First Baptist Church is now (below).

mid-city railroading

Engine terminal by Greenwood Cemetery, 1949 (City of New Orleans)

 

Grade crossing survey

I found the documents I remembered quickly. It was a grade crossing survey from 1949. The compiled the data for the new Union Passenger Terminal project. I didn’t need high-quality scans for now. So I took some phone pics and moved on. Just knowing I was right about the engine terminal was enough. I came back to those images this morning. I wanted to get an idea of the general area around City Park Avenue to the New Basin Canal. Therefore, I took quick shots of those plates.

mid-city railroading

Grade crossing survey, 1949 (City of New Orleans)

So, I had some time this morning, and I looked those other images over. I came across something that made me scratch my head. The plate showing tracks around Bienville Street and N. Carrollton Avenue (above) showed the layout of a full passenger rail station.

Passenger Stations in New Orleans

This confused me in a big way. I’d always known about the five passenger stations in the city. They were:

  • Louisville and Nashville (Canal and the river)
  • Terminal Station, Southern and Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (Canal and Basin Streets)
  • Union Station, Illinois Central and Southern Pacific (Howard Avenue)
  • Texas Pacific/Missouri Pacific (Annunciation Street)
  • Louisiana & Arkansas-Kansas City Southern (S. Rampart and Girod Streets)

These five were demolished, and UPT was built right behind Union Station, so it fronted Loyola Avenue. So, I’d never heard of a station in Mid-City.

mid-city railroading

Bienville Street and N. Carrollton Avenue, 1937 (Sanborn)

While I’ve read a bunch on railroads in the city, I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge is quite incomplete. Drew Ward graciously pulled up the Sanborns for N. Carrollton and Bienville. The image above is from 1937, and doesn’t look anything like a proper passenger station.

I’ll keep you posted on what I learn.

 

 

Prytania Market

Prytania Market

Prytania Market

prytania market

Prytania Market, ca. 1915 (New Orleans Public Library photo)

Prytania Market

prytania market

Location of the Prytania Market. The land is now public green space.

Before home and commercial refrigeration was widespread, folks made groceries at the neighborhood’s public market. So, these markets were all over the city of New Orleans. The Prytania Market was located on Prytania Street. It was between Upperline and Lyons. By the 1910s, the neighborhood grew to the point where folks didn’t want to walk to the markets surrounding them.

Truck Farmers

Public markets were the “stores” for “truck farmers”. These folks farmed the land out in Kenner and Little Farms (now River Ridge). Initially, they traveled in from Kenner via horse-drawn wagon. In 1915, the Orleans-Kenner Railroad line opened. The “O-K” was the metro area’s only true interurban railroad line. The farmers loaded up their crops onto these electric cars, which had a lot of open cargo space. They arrived at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne. Usually they enlisted a relative or a friend with a wagon to get them from the O-K station to one or more of the public markets. These farmers got the name “truck farmers” when they bought trucks to get into town.Therefore, the O-K interurban was no longer useful. The line closed in 1930.

Open-Air

The public markets were essentially just open-air stalls. While some markets occupied enclosed buildings, others, like Prytania, were completely open. There was no electricity at this time. So the city monitored sanitary conditions, through their franchisees. While seafood vendors did sell at the markets, their sales were prohibited in the summer. The fish and shellfish didn’t stay fresh in the heat.

Prytania Street

From 1915 to the 1940s, the farmers selling at the Prytania Market worked at the building in the photo above. The city owned many of the public markets, including this one. City government franchised them out to business owners and management companies. So, in 1923, the city awarded the Prytania franchise to Charles F. Buck, Jr.

The market building was expanded/improved by architect Sam Stone Jr.’s firm in 1922. Stone was was a well-known architect. He designed the 13-story Maison Blanche building. It’s now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Prytania Market

Prytania Market, ca. 1940 (New Orleans Public Library photo)

In 1938, the city contracted Stone’s firm again, to re-design the Prytania Market. The building above operated through the 1940s and 1950s. So, supermarkets arrived. They changed the way we made groceries. The public markets became obsolete. The city demolished the Prytania Market. The property is now a small public park.

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

800 block canal street

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.

USS Hartford, sloop of war

USS Hartford, sloop of war

USS Hartford

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USS Hartford, Sloop of War

Lytle photo of the sloop of war, USS Hartford, 1863. The Boston Navy Yard built the sloop. After a shakedown cruise, USS Hartford sailed to Asia, where it carried the US Minister to China, John Elliott Ward on various diplomatic missions.

Southern Rebellion

When the Southern States rebelled against the Union, the US Navy implemented a classic, Royal Navy-style blockade on the coastlines of the rebel states. That blockade began at Virginia, curving around Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico. The US Navy assigned squadrons to specific areas along the blockade lines. USS Hartford returned to the US. After refitting, she sailed to the Gulf of Mexico as flagship of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. Farragut took Hartford to Ship Island in February, 1862, where he consulted with Army commanders. Plans for the attack began in earnest when Commander David Dixon Porter arrived with his squadron of mortar schooners in March.

Second Battle of New Orleans

Farragut led his squadron up the Mississippi River, making a run past Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, on the night of 24-April-1862. While the squadron got passed the forts and steamed upriver to New Orleans, Hartford was damaged by fire-rafts. Farragut’s officers accepted the city’s surrender. Major General Benjamin Butler occupied the city on 1-May-1862. So, Farragut took Hartford and the rest of his squadron up the Mississippi to Baton Rouge. He captured the city without opposition. Farragut and the Navy used Baton Rouge and New Orleans as staging areas for the various attacks on rebel positions further up the river.

This photo shows USS Hartford about a year after the Battle of New Orleans. While it’s moored at Baton Rouge, the photo shows that the damage it suffered on the night of 24-April-1862 has been repaired.

SSN-768

On a side note, the current USS Hartford (SSN-768) is a Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine. It was part of the squadron based at Point Loma, CA, when my son was a junior officer on the USS Alexandria (SSN-757).

Royal Street – Louisville and Nashville observation car #TrainThursday

Royal Street

(cross-posted to Pontchartrain RR)

royal street

L&N “Royal Street” observation car.

Royal Street

I caught the Louisville and Nashville observation car, Royal Street, out at the KCS yard in Metairie, LA, yesterday. This corrugated observation car was one of eight built by Pullman Standard and delivered in February-Marcy, 1950. Four of the cars ran on Southern Railway’s Royal Palm, and two were delivered to L&N. They ran on the Crescent and other L&N name trains.

Royal Street was part of an upgrade of the Crescent in 1950. In 1950, the train, which was operated for the most part by Southern Railway, traveled from New York to Washington, DC, on the Pensylvania RR. In DC, it took Southern’s tracks to Atlanta. From Atlanta, on the Atlanta and West Point RR, to West Point, GA. From West Point to Montgomery, AL, on the Western Railway. The Crescent ran on L&N tracks from Montgomery into New Orleans.

New Orleans

Royal Street

L&N Station, New Orleans

Since the Crescent used L&N tracks to come into New Orleans, it arrived and departed from the L&N station at Canal Street and the river. Other Southern trains, including the Southerner, the other New Orleans to NYC train, arrived and departed from Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets. After 1954, The Southerner and the Crescent both moved to Union Passenger Terminal, as the Canal Street stations were demolished.

Amtrak

Southern continued to operate the Crescent until 1974, when it turned the route over to Amtrak. So, the Amtrak Crescent continues daily service. Train #20 departs in the morning from New Orleans (NOL), and #19 from Penn Station (NYP) in New York.

Modeling Royal Street

royal street

Will this kit become “Royal Street”?

While the N-Scale Pontchartrain RR plans to model Royal Street, we haven’t found the right kit just yet. We also plan to model the New York Central’s Bonnie Brook car. It is often at the KCS yard. This kit doesn’t match either prototype, so we’re looking for a closer match. This particular kit might become a Pontchartrain RR-liver car.