Looking down Canal in 1926 reveals many of the buildings still standing on the city’s main street.
Looking down Canal
Canal Street, looking towards the river from the 1000 block. Franck Studios shot this photo between 1926 and 1929. The old-style lampposts on Canal Street date the photo prior to 1930. The poor condition of the neutral ground also indicates this was shot before the 1930 beautification program. To the left, the building at the corner of Canal and Burgundy in the 1001 block flows into the Audubon, Kress, and Maison Blanche buildings in the 901 block. On the right, the buildings of the 1000, 900, and 800 blocks flow together. Back to the left, the Godchaux Building stands prominently in the 500 block, with its cupola and rooftop water tower. An electric sign advertising the Orpheum Theater, hangs across the Canal Street.
Arch roof streetcars 821 and 813, operate on the N. Claiborne and St. Charles lines. St. Charles ran in belt service with Tulane at this time. The neutral ground held five tracks at this point. This enabled streetcars to connect and switch as needed at Rampart Street. The area between Rampart and Basin streets served as a busy terminal area, as various lines converged, offering riders connections to the railroad stations.The Canal/Esplanade cars, along with the West End line, operated on the inside tracks. Lines coming inbound to Canal popped up for a block, traveled the outside tracks for a block, then turned for their outbound runs. NOPSI discontinued and demolished all of the remaining 800-series streetcars in 1964.
While HNOC suggests the date at 1926 to 1929, the presence of streetcars narrows it down a bit. Since motormen and conductors struck NOPSI from July to October, 1929, this photo likely dates before that time.
Behind the first set of streetcars stand a set of “Palace” cars. These larger streetcars from the American Car Company, operated in belt service on Canal and Esplanade. The Palace cars also ran out to West End, on that line.
The 1929 transit strike in New Orleans snarled downtown traffic for over four months.
1929 Transit Strike
Photo of Canal Street, looking towards the river, July, 1929. The photographer stands at Canal and Rampart Streets, at the lake end of the 1000 block. The Audubon Building and Maison Blanche Department Store loom over the 901 block, on the left. A jitney bus, the light-colored vehicle in traffic on the right, offers what little service New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) could offer, with all the streetcars locked up in their barns. The antenna tower above MB is the transmitter for WSMB Radio.
Empty neutral ground
Streetcars remained off the streets from July 1 to July 4th, 1929. NOPSI tried to run streetcars using strikebreakers on Saturday, July 5th, but picketers and their supporters wouldn’t allow the cars to exit the barns, after the first streetcar departed Canal Station. That streetcar rolled this route, down Canal Street, followed by a massive crowd. The strikers burned that streetcar when it reached the ferry terminal.
Maison Blanche 1929
The MB building was twenty-one years old at the time of the 1929 transit strike. This photographer captured two signs on the building. The store’s name runs vertically on the lake side of the building. The roof displays the store’s name and its tagline, “Greatest Store South” on the roof.
The MB building is about ten years old in this photo. Doctors, dentists, and other professionals occupied the office building. The transit strike created problems for those tenants. Without public transit, it was difficult to get to the doctor. While grandma would hop on the Desire line or the St. Charles-Tulane belt, no streetcars meant someone had to drive her to Maison Blanche. Look at that traffic on either side of the “Canal Street Zone.”
On the retail side, the lack of public transit put the hurt on the Canal Street stores. Marks Isaacs, D. H. Holmes, Maison Blanche, all the way up to Krauss Department Store. Again, look at that traffic. In that first week of July, 1929, the retailers were furious. That the strike continued for four months did permanent damage to NOPSI and public transit in New Orleans.
The 1929 transit car strike left a lot of Palace car damage.
Palace car damage
Photo of New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) streetcar 625, an American Car Company “Palace” streetcar, photographed on 2-July-1929, showing damage by vandals. The motormen and conductors operating the city’s streetcars struck NOPSI on 1-July-1929. Those workers inflicted a great deal of damage to streetcars, tracks, and stations overnight, 30-June/1-July, and into 2-July. This photo, taken by Franck Studios, is part of a series documenting that damage for NOPSI’s lawyers. NOPSI 625’s roll board indicates it last operated on the West End line, likely on 30-June. The operator parked the streetcar at Canal Station. That station stood on the original site of the New Orleans City Railroad Company’s car and mule barns, built in 1861. By the 1920s, several of the original buildings remained. The public notices like the one tacked up on the end of the streetcar went out on 11-July-1929, so that may specifically date this photo.
The 1929 Strike
The Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, Division No. 194, negotiated with transit managers for NOPSI for several years, in the run-up to 1-July-1929. Talks broke down that Summer, and the union called for a strike. The motormen and conductors took destructive actions overnight. They vandalized a number of streetcars, particular at Canal Station, along with track on Canal Street. They also vandalized the station itself.
While the story of the invention/creation of the po-boy sandwich offers a romanticized version of the four months of the strike. It’s clear, however, that the circumstances were anything but romantic. While the violence of the first two days of the strike subsided, it picked up again by 5-July. NOPSI decided not to operate any streetcars from 1-4 July.
On 5-July-1929, NOPSI brought in strike-breakers in an attempt to restore streetcar service. One Palace streetcar departed Canal Station that Saturday morning. Crowds of union members and their supporters blocked Canal Station and the other streetcar barns after that first streetcar left. The lone streetcar traveled down Canal Street to Liberty Place. The crowd followed it, eventually surrounding the car. They pulled the strike breakers off the car and set it on fire.
Binder’s was “The Happy Baker with the Flashing Light” in the Marigny.
Ad for Binder’s Bakery in the Times-Picayune, 8-July-1966. At the time, the main Binder’s location was at the corner of Franklin and St. Claude Avenues, where the McDonald’s is now. The bakery also operated locations on Independence St., Desire St., and further up on Franklin Avenue, at N. Prieur Street. Joseph Binder started the bakery. His cousin, A. J. Binder, worked with him. A. J. “Butz” Binder, Jr. (St. Aloysius 1929), worked at the St. Claude location from when he was a child, into the 1970s. A.J. Senior opened the the bakery named for him at Frenchmen and N. Rampart Streets, in 1971. Father passed away in 1973, and son took over as general manager.
A.J. Binder, Jr. has a story similar to many we hear about Brother’s Boys who attended St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, and Brother Martin. After graduating from St. Aloysius, Binder’s delivered loaves of French Bread daily to the school’s cafeteria on Esplanade and N. Rampart Streets. I don’t know if that continued into the Brother Martin years, but I certainly ate my share of roast beef po-boys on Binder’s bread during my years on Elysian Fields.
The Binder’s Bakery tag line, was, “The Happy Baker with the Flashing Light!” The bakery displayed that tagline at the stores, on the delivery trucks, and even on the sleeves for the French bread. The note in this ad caught my eye, something I didn’t think about until I read it:
Sorry … due to Hurricane Betsy, our FLASHING BEACON, indicating when HOT FRENCH BREAD was available, was destroyed. We have tried, with no success, to have the sign company replace it. We hope to have it back in operation very shortly.
So, Hurricane Betsy blew up the Mississippi River and struck New Orleans on 9-September-1965. This ad appeared on 8-July of the following year. The Happy Baker’s light was out for a good while by that point. I don’t know the story of the original flashing light on St. Claude and Franklin. My memories of Binders only go back to the store in the Marigny. That location had a sign, of course. A border of amber lights flashed when hot bread was available. I’m assuming that sign went up when A.J. Senior opened the location in 1971.
Serious here, folks, please share your Binder’s stories with me. Those loaves of French bread were an important part of BOSH culture!
The A. J. Binder’s bakery in the Marigny, after serving the neighborhood and delivering French Bread citywide for 47 years, closed in 2018.
The L&A Railroad Station serviced the Kansas City Southern Railroad.
L&A Railroad Station
Leon Trice photo of the Louisiana and Arkansas (L&A) station, 705 S. Rampart Street. The station opened in 1923. It stood on the corner of S. Rampart and Girod Streets. The city consolidated passenger rail operations in 1954, at Union Passenger Terminal, on Loyola Avenue. The city retained ownership of the L&A railroad station. Since the building was still in good shape, it became a fire station, . The corner of S. Rampart and Girod is now a parking lot.
Kansas City Southern
From the dedication program for New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal, May 1, 1954:
The Kansas City Southern Lines, which connect New Orleans with Dallas, and with Kansas City, via Alexandria and Shreveport, were formed from the merger of three different railroads: the Kansas City Southern, the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company, and the Louisiana & Arkansas. The LR&N between New Orleans and Shreveport was completed in 1907 by William Edenborn. And, in 1923, the LR&N acquired a line between Shreveport and Dallas. These two lines, which were merged by the late-Harvey Couch, were acquired by the Kansas City Southern in 1939-thus providing a thru route from New Orleans to Kansas City.
The city and the railroads did a great deal of analysis and planning for consolidating operations at a single station. The city commissioned a full survey of all grade crossings in Orleans Parish. The L&A railroad station’s operations involved two tracks coming into the station and connecting with the railroad’s yard, off Jefferson Davis Parkway (now Norman C. Francis Parkway):
The passenger service of the Louisiana & Arkansas-Kansas City Southern consists of two trains each way daily. One of these is the streamliner, “Southern Belle,” and the other is a conventional steam train. The “Southern Belle” is handled around the wye at Shrewsbury and is backed into the station [at Rampart and Girod]. It is then moved to Jefferson Davis Yard where it is cleaned and serviced.
It is backed into the station in the evening for departure. The other train heads into the station. All passenger equipment is cleaned and serviced at the Jefferson Davis Yard. The total number of cars each way daily on these two trains varies from 18 to 24. The train arriving in the morning and departing in the evening carries three cars of l. c. l. freight in addition to the regular passenger equipment. Mail and express cars are worked directly from trucks on the station tracks. Trains are handled from the station to Jefferson Davis Yard by a switch engine which also spots the head-end cars carrying l. c. l. freight.
The removal of the L&A railroad station, along with the L&A/KCS tracks, along with the closure of the New Canal, dramatically changed the neighborhood. So, the construction of the Superdome in the 1970s all but erased most of what remained.
Redemptorist priests staffed the churches in the Irish Channel.
Redemptorist Priests in the 1930s
Fathers Fagan and Grangel, of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), at St. Alphonsus Church, 2030 Constance Street, New Orleans, late 1930s/early 1940s. St. Alphonsus Church (named for the founder of the Redemptorists) is one of the three churches in the “Redemptorist Parish” that services the Irish Channel. It’s the church for the Irish community in the neighborhood. The church built by the German community is St. Mary’s Assumption. Francophones attended Mass at Notre Dame de Bon Secours, which burned down. The Redemptorist fathers staffed and administered the parish, until their departure from the neighborhood in the 1990s.
Clerical dress, 1930s
The priests wear black cassocks and their “Redemptorist rosary.” The order wore their own style rosary. It’s a 15-decade (15 sets of ten beads) rosary. Instead of a crucifix on the end, this style has has a medal with St. Alphonsus on one side and Jesus the Redeemer on the other. Alphonsus Liguori founded the Redemptorists in 1732, in Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Italy.
In addition to their cassocks and rosaries, the priests wear the biretta, the classic black hat worn by clergy. The biretta dates back to the 14th Century. Since men’s fashion in the 1930s usually included wearing a hat, it’s no surprise that Fathers Fagan and Grangel wore them. Their birettas are black, with a black “pom” atop the hat. The black biretta indicated their rank as priests. Bishops wore amaranth-colored birettas, and cardinals scarlet. Priests of varying positions and ranks wore birettas with amaranth or scarlet poms. While priests wore the biretta regularly when out, the hat’s use during the liturgy was regulated. Priests wore the biretta as they processed to the altar for Mass or other ceremonies. When they reached the altar, the priest removed the hat, handing it over to an altar server. The priest retrieved the biretta at the end of the service, wearing it out of the church.
Works Progress Administration photos
While this photo is listed as undated, it’s part of the WPA collection at the State Library of Louisiana. Most of the photos in this collection date to 1938-1940, since that’s when most of the artist’s projects were funded.