Advertising for Maison Blanche World War I focused on readiness.
Maison Blanche World War I
Two ads in the Times-Picayune, 24-August-1917, illustrate the targeting of Maison Blanche World War I. The smaller ad ran on page two, whereas the large ad ran on the back page of the fourteen-page edition. The smaller ad suggests buying your man a sweater, as he packs to leave for boot camp at Leon Springs in Texas. The larger ad offers the shopper discounts on a wide spectrum of items, from note paper to women’s shoes to various men’s items.
Entering the War
By the time of Maison Blanche World War I, Europe entered its third year of total war. The United States joined the war, on the side of France and the United Kingdom, on April 6, 1917. Money, goods,, and supplies traveled across the Atlantic almost immediately. American troops arrived in Europe in the summer of 1918. The summer of 1917 was that wartime period where excited young men joined up to defend their families. They went off to boot camp, returning home on leave in spiffy uniforms. Anxiety over trench warfare and the horrid conditions on the Western Front were distant.
Wives and mothers prepared for war with two approaches. First, they purchased clothing and supplies for the menfolk. While the Army provided the basics, there were always things soldiers needed and wanted. Second, the women prepared for rationing and other belt-tightening moves. Maison Blanche World War I recognized this. Instead of tantalizing the shopper with a new dress, fancy shoes, or furniture upgrades, we see a lot of practical items on sale.The department stores focused on page one and page two of the newspaper. With only fourteen pages in the edition, there was no full-page ad for MB in one section, Holmes in the next. Readers caught the latest news, turned the page, then spotted store ads. More extravagant sales and shopping came to New Orleans in the aftermath of the war.
The original Cotton Exchange Building was the setting for an Edgar Degas painting.
Cotton Exchange Building
Photo postcard of the Cotton Exchange Building, on the uptown/lake side of the corner of Carondelet and Gravier Streets, in the CBD. A group of cotton factors founded the New Orleans Cotton Exchange in 1871. They built this building in 1881. Structural deficiencies appeared in this Second Empire structure in the 1910s, and by 1916, the city deemed it unsafe. Therefore, the Exchange demolished the building. They built the structure that stands on the corner today. The original building featured lavish interiors and offices for the factors. Edgar Degas painted a scene set in a cotton factor’s office in the Exchange building in 1873. Postcard by the V.O. Hammon Publishing Company.
The Cotton Exchange entered the scene after the Southern Rebellion and the abolition of enslavement. So, cotton factors recognized the changes coming to the industry during Reconstruction and beyond. They leveraged technology such as the telegraph to gather data important to cotton growing. The Exchange also implemented futures trading. Col. Henry G. Hester, the Exchange’s Secretary, brought practices from the Chicago Board of Trade to New Orleans. These modernization techniques enabled factors to stabilize prices as growers addressed the challenges of employing workers rather than enslaving them.
Loss of the building
The Cotton Exchange transitioned the industry into the 20th Century. While the building was an attractive landmark, the building presented problems. The building’s structure weakened. The city forced the closure of the building in 1916. World War I and other factors enabled the Exchange to delay action. In 1920, they built a new building on the corner. Unlike the elaborate design of the original, architects Favrot and Livaudais built a much more modest replacement.
The Cotton Exchange sold the second building in 1962. The entity closed in 1964. The building became downtown office space, and is now a hotel.
In Anne Rice’s novel, The Witching Hour, the Mayfair family are the primary characters. This fictional wealthy family had numerous business interests and holdings in New Orleans. So, Rice installed the Mayfair businesses in the building at Carondelet and Gravier in her stories.
Streetcar operations on S. Carrollton Avenue in 1913 weren’t all that different than they are today.
Streetcar Operations 1913
New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) #383, outbound on St. Charles Avenue, 1913. Workers surround the car as they do street repairs. The streetcar heads to Carrollton Station as it ends a run on the Prytania line. NORwy&Lt #383 is a single-truck, Ford, Bacon, and Davis (FB&D) streetcar. So these streetcars dominated street rail in New Orleans from 1894, through the 1920s. One FB&D streetcar remains, NORTA #29, the “sand car.” If you see a streetcar running on the St. Charles line that doesn’t look like the classic arch-roofs, it’s likely #29.
The photographer of this image is unidentified, possibly a file photo owned by NOPSI.
Ford, Bacon, and Davis
NORwy&Lt #383 took to the streets in 1894. Both the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad (NO&CRR) and the New Orleans City Railroad (NOCRR) purchased FB&D streetcars. Ford, Bacon, and Davis was an engineering firm. The streetcar operators hired them to help improve the city’s streetcar operations. Electrification required a number of changes. So, as the engineers worked on the system as a whole, they learned a lot about running streetcars here. They designed a single-truck streetcar that would work in all neighborhoods.
So, by 1913, the date of this photo, FB&Ds operated in New Orleans for almost twenty years. That’s nothing for a streetcar, of course. They’re built for 70+ years of operation.
Electrification presented a number of challenges for the streetcar companies. The costs of generating power and running wires along the streetcar routes bankrupted the companies. The city stepped in, helping to re-organize the system. They formed a holding company, New Orleans Traction Company, in 1897 that combined the existing operators. That evolved into a second incarnation of the New Orleans City Railroad Company in 1899. Yet another re-org took place in 1905, when the New Orleans Railway and Light Company took over. By 1922, that company became New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI). NOPSI exists to this day, as Entergy New Orleans. Entergy gave up streetcar operations in 1983, when they turned the transit system over to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.
The large building in the background is Leland University. It was founded in 1870 as Leland College, a school of higher learning for free Black men. The school sustained serious damage in the hurricane of 1915, and moved to Baker, Louisiana.
Jesuit High School first opened on Baronne Street, next to the church.
Jesuit High School
Photo from the 1913 edition of The Picayune’s Guide to New Orleans, published by The New Orleans Picayune newspaper. The Church of the Immaculate Conception stands next to the College of the Immaculate Conception, in the 100 block of Baronne Street. The Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, ran the parish and the college. Additionally, they ran a high school program in the same building. In 1926, the Jesuits moved the high school to a new building in Mid-City. Jesuit High School, New Orleans, occupies the lake side of the corner of S. Carrollton Avenue and Banks Street.
The Society of Jesus in New Orleans
While the Capuchins ran the original parish of St. Louis in the Vieux Carré, the Jesuits purchased a tract of land in Faubourg Ste. Marie, in 1727. They administered the parish in that neighborhood. The Anglo-Irish referred to the neighborhood as “The American Sector.” The order constructed the church seen in this photo in the 1840s. It opened in 1850. The school was founded in 1847, and began operation in 1849.
College and High School
The Jesuits taught both high school and college classes on Baronne Street in the 19th Century. In 1911, they moved the college further Uptown, on St. Charles Avenue. The order re-organized the college. It became Loyola University of the South, now Loyola University of New Orleans. They changed the name of the high school when the college left Baronne Street.
With neither college nor high school occupying the building at Baronne and Common, the order demolished the school building seen here. They leased the corner to developers. An 18-story office building replaced the school. Unfortunately, construction of the Pere Marquette Building severely damaged the foundation of the church. Driving piles for the building shook the block. The Jesuits dis-assembled the church. They dedicated a new church, built in the same architectural style of the original, in 1930.
The office building is now the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel.
Bucktown 1900 was a fishermen’s village at the end of the 17th Street Canal.
Photo of shacks along both sides of the 17th Street Canal in Bucktown 1900. Source is the New Orleans Jazz Club. While the photographer is unidentified, the note at the bottom is similar to a number of images in Doc Souchon’s collection. The photographer stands several blocks back from the entrance of the canal at Lake Pontchartrain. The plant growth in the foreground is foliage from the swampy ground in the area. The fishermen kept the canal clear for their boats from here to the lake.
The 17th Street Canal
The canal gets its name from 17th Street, in the “uptown backatown” part of New Orleans. While the city changed the street’s name to Palmetto Street in 1894, the old name stuck for the canal. Rainwater from uptown collected in smaller canals, eventually draining into this one. Since land was higher closer to the river, gravity did most of the work for decades. Water flowed into the canal, which in turn flowed out to the lake. There was little development along the 17th Street Canal in the 19th Century. So, by the time the canal reached the lake, the water dissipated into swampy ground. The city built a pumping station across the canal, near Metairie Road. Station #6 opened in 1899, using pumps designed by A. Baldwin Wood.
Connecting the canal to the lake offered an opportunity to fishermen. Even though the New Canal wasn’t that far away, that waterway was navigable. With luggers, tugs, barges, and other vessels traversed it daily. That presented challenges for the fishermen. Moving over to the outfall canal enabled the fishermen to come and go into the lake at their leisure. By the 1890s, fishermen built shacks with small piers for their boats, moving into this, the “East End” of Jefferson Parish. As the area grew, commercial buildings popped up. That lead to restaurants and nightclubs. Those businesses meant gambling and jazz, but that’s another story.
This Canal Street Postcard was printed in 1903.
Canal Street postcard
Detroit Publishing Company postcard of Canal Street, New Orleans, from 1903. The photographer stands on the roof of the Custom House, looking towards the lake. The foreground shows the 500 block. The round coupla, foreground right, sits atop the Godchaux Building, at Canal and Chartres Streets. Further up the street, the postcard shows the often-overlooked buildings of the 600 block. The top of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Jesuits Church) is visible, background, center. Streetcars scurry up and down the two main-line tracks at the center, with other lines appearing and disappearing on the outside tracks.
The Henry Clay monument now stands in Lafayette Square, across from City Hall (now Gallier Hall). The city re-located the monument there in 1901. Canal streetcars passed so close to the monument, there were concerns about safety.
While the postcard gets incredibly grainy after the 700 block, the cupola of Leon Fellman’s store at 800 Canal, and the Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club at 900 Canal, are visible.
Detroit Publishing Company knew living vicariously through postcards was a popular pastime. The company bought images from photographers across the country. They then hired artists to color the black-and-white photos in. Now, photographers just have to post their work on social media.
Electrification of streetcar lines began in 1893. Canal Street electrified in 1895. So, this 1905 photo shows first-generation electric streetcars. The engineering firm, Ford, Bacon, and Davis pitched a design to streetcar operators for a single-truck platform in 1894. Most of the streetcars in this photo are of that design. Most of these streetcars move riders on the inside tracks. One single-truck on the Uptown side turns from Camp Street on to Canal. The operator prepares to travel one block, then make another right-turn, onto Magazine Street. The now-immortal arch roof streetcars are still twelve years away. They made their first appearance on the streets in 1915.