The Washington Hotel in Milneburg attracted guests and groups from across New Orleans.
The hotel opened in 1832. Pontchartrain Railroad operations began two years earlier. The railroad connected Faubourg Marigny with Port Pontchartrain (Milneburg). The straight-line route followed what is now Elysian Fields Avenue. This photo, from the 1890s, is captioned:
Milneburg had many famous hotels and restaurants. One of the most famous is pictured above, the “Washington Hotel”. Their French restaurants won international fame.
So, ownership of the hotel came to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The L&N demolished the hotel in September, 1920.
Milneburg received its name from the area’s first owner, Alexander Milne. He built Port Pontchartrain, in Gentilly. MIlne’s facility enabled ships to come to New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico. They traveled, via Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. The Pontchartrain RR made Milne’s facility a solid alternative to the river.
New Orleanians enjoy spending time on the lakefront. The area offers respite from the heat. Locals found this essential in the days prior to air conditioning. So, taking the train out to Milneburg became a weekend diversion. Over time, Port Pontchartrain diminished. The Pontchartrain Railroad carried more passengers than freight by the 1880s. The L&N, the last owners of the railroad, discontinued it in 1930.
While there were over a number of hotels out at Milneburg, the Washington Hotel stood at the top. For example,the Societa Italia di Mutua Benefienza, held an anniversary dinner at the hotel in June of 1890. According to the Daily Picayune,
About 100 members and their wives and families were seated at the dinner, and a feast of national dishes were disposed of. All passed off most pleasantly, and the anniversary proved to be most successfully observed.
Additionally, in June of 1894, the Third District Benevolent Association held a large picnic at the hotel and its acre of gardens. In the late 1890s, groups often hired jazz combos for entertainment.