NOLA Mural

NOLA Mural

Greetings from NOLA Mural, uptown.

nola mural

Image courtesy

NOLA Mural

A muralist and a photographer teamed up, traveling around the country to make murals in the style of the old Teich “greetings” postcards from the 1930s. Muralist Victor Ving and Photographer Lisa Beggs stopped in New Orleans. They created a mural on the wall of a building on the corner of Magazine and Joseph Streets in the LGD/Irish Channel.

Teich Postcards

We presented an old postcard to you in April, part of the “Greetings from…” series from the 1930s. Curt Teich, a German, immigrated to the United States in 1895. He opened a print shop in 1899. Teich produced linen postcards. Beginning in 1931, Teich produced a line of color postcards saying, “Greetings From…” He published postcards featuring hundreds of locations across the United States.

The Mural

So, it’s no surprise New Orleans stores sold Teich’s postcard for the city. Ving and Beggs shortened the city’s name for their mural. They updated the feel of the city. The pair received permission for the mural from the owner of The Renaissance Shop, 2104 Magazine Street. The Renaissance Shop does furniture restoration. From their website:

 When our family founded The Renaissance Shop, LLC in 1973, we had one goal: to provide high quality furniture restoration and design services that were second to none in the New Orleans area. Four generations later, we continue to live up to that goal everyday, both for our local customers and to the customers we ship to across the entire country. If you are interested in hiring us, or have questions about our services, please get in touch with The Renaissance Shop, LLC today at 504-525-8568.

So, muralists and restoration professionals teamed up to put New Orleans on the mural map. While postcards don’t sell as well as they did in the 1930s, Teich’s concept and style live on.

The last Smokey Mary

The last Smokey Mary

Smokey Mary, the nickname for the Pontchartrain Railroad, at the end.

smokey mary

Smokey Mary

The Pontchartrain Railroad opened in 1831. It operated as mule-drawn service for about a year. The company acquired steam locomotives, and thus began almost a century of service from Faubourg Marigny to Port Pontchartrain in Milneburg. Louisville and Nashville Railroad equipment operated on the Pontchartrain Railroad after that railroad acquired it in 1881. By the last runs of 1932, Pontchartrain operated second-tier L&N locomotives, like 142.

The L&N didn’t take the Pontchartrain seriously. They viewed the Elysian Fields right-of-way as a connector out of town, rather than to the lakefront. As such, service on the Pontchartrain dropped. Shipping customers changed their landing strategies, avoiding Port Pontchartrain. While World War I generated an uptick in activity in Milneburg, the boost was temporary.

By the 1920s, the Industrial Canal offered a direct connection for vessels to travel from the Gulf of Mexico. Ships could enter Lake Borgne, then travel through the Rigolets or Chef Menteur Pass, into Lake Pontchartrain. Instead of mooring at Port Pontchartrain, they could now go all the way down to the river. Ships bypassed the unloading process to get goods into town. The Pontchartrain morphed into an excursion route, as New Orleanians headed out to Milneburg for the dining, jazz clubs, and weekend getaways.

The last locomotives

The Pontchartrain Railroad operated several L&N 4-4-0 locomotives in the 1920s. This photo, from the Louisiana Conservationist magazine, March, 1959. The issue featured stories on fishing, and the Pontchartrain RR pier at Milneburg was a wonderful fishing spot. The trains went out onto the pier, to facilitate loading/unloading. The locals simply went outside the shed area and fished. Trains come, trains, go, the fish stayed. L&N 141 and 142 were Baldwin 4-4-0s. They were built between 1888 and 1891. According to Louis Hennick, 142 wasn’t the last Pontchartrain engine, but it operated in those final weeks.



Rebel Route to Tennessee #TrainThursday

Rebel Route to Tennessee #TrainThursday

Gulf, Mobile, and Northern’s Rebel Route connected New Orleans to Jackson, Tennessee.

Rebel Route

Rebel Route

The “Rebel,” operated by Gulf, Mobile, and Northern Railroad, at Terminal Station in Faubourg Treme, late 1930s, early 1940s. It’s unclear whether this train is departing on a northbound run, or backing into the station, arriving on the southbound run. Trains approaching Terminal Station used a “wye” track on St. Louis Street to change directions. The inbound train entered the wye, then backed in. Passengers exited onto Canal Street, across from Krauss Department Store.

The Route

The Gulf, Mobile, and Northern operated the Rebel from 1935 until its merger with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in 1942. GM&N expanded the Rebel. They purchased additional equipment, operating a split of the route, from Union, Mississippi, to Mobile. The GM&O expanded the Rebel Route further, north to St. Louis. The train’s final incarnation, the “Gulf Coast Rebel” ended service in 1958.

“Little Rebels”

GM&N purchased two trainsets from the American Car Foundry in 1935. These sets used “power cars,” units which combined locomotive and coach. The Rebel also carried a buffet-coach car and a sleeper-observation. All coach seating operated following Jim Crow segregation laws.

The railroad acquired a third trainset in 1937. This trainset enabled GM&N to operate the split at Union, down to Mobile.

With the merger in 1942, GM&O discontinued the “little Rebel” trainsets. The railroad replaced them with the “Big Rebels,” Alco DL-105 locomotives and standard-style cars.

Terminal Station

South of Laurel, Mississippi, GM&N/GM&O used Southern Railway tracks to reach New Orleans. The Rebel approached the city via Slidell, crossing Lake Pontchartrain using Southern’s five-mile bridge. The train traveled through the city using Southern’s “back belt.” The Rebel stopped at City Park Avenue, then turned towards the river, ending the journey on Basin Street. Like Southern Railway trains, GM&O shifted passenger operations from Terminal Station over to Union Passenger Terminal in 1954.


Municipal Auditorium 1932

Municipal Auditorium 1932

The Walmsley administration held a banquet at the Municipal Auditorium in 1932.

municipal auditorium

Morris FX Jeff Municipal Auditorium

Franck Studios photo of the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium in 1932. The city opened the facility on May 30, 1930. Since it opened, the Municipal Auditorium hosted a wide range of events, including Carnival balls, boxing matches, high school graduations, professional wrestling, as well as trade shows and conventions. The building sits in Faubourg Treme, next to Congo Square.

Sporting events

The Municipal Auditorium seats over 7800 people in its arena configuration. The city used the facility as a starting point for several professional sports franchises. The auditorium served as home court for the American Basketball Association’s New Orleans Buccaneers, during the team’s 1969-1970 season. When the National Basketball Association granted New Orleans a franchise, the New Orleans Jazz played their first season in the facility. The New Orleans Brass, an East Coast Hockey League (AA) team, used the auditorium as home ice from 1997 to 1999.

What attracted these teams to the facility was the ease with which it could be adapted. The Bucs originally played at the old Loyola Field House, but outgrew it. The Jazz planned to use the Louisiana Superdome, but decided to wait a season. That enabled the team’s management to prepare for Dome life. While the Brass were a professional team, they knew the Dome would be impractical. They used the auditorium until the opening of the Smoothie King Center.


Harrah’s New Orleans Casino planned to use the Municipal Auditorium as a temporary site, while they demolished the Rivergate convention center and built their current casino on that site. The temporary casino only operated for a couple of months in 1995.


Thomas Semmes Walmsley held the office of Mayor of New Orleans from 1929 to 1936. Walmsley was a controversial figure, being a staunch racist. Interestingly, Walmsley was a member of the Boston Club, the luncheon club located on Canal Street that is closely identified with the Mystick Krewe of Comus. Hosting a political event in the city’s new auditorium was quite logical.

Historic Old New Orleans Guidebook

Historic Old New Orleans Guidebook

Historic Old New Orleans was published in 1938.

historic old new orleans

Historic Old New Orleans Guidebook

Cover illustrations for a pamphlet, “Historic Old New Orleans,” published in 1938. The pamphlet is subtitled, “America’s Most Interesting City.” The front cover displays the title, but no further information. The rear illustration features the courtyard of the “Claiborne Mansion” in Faubourg Marigny. Neither Loyola University Special Collections nor the Newberry Library (which also holds a physical copy) offer more detail.

Guidebooks and Pamphlets

Loyola University of New Orleans holds a collection of brochures, pamphlets, and guidebooks collected by Dr. Anthony J. Stanonis. Dr. Stanonis did his undergraduate studies at Loyola, and earned his PhD in History from Vanderbilt University. This collection presents a wide range of tourism-related publications. Nowadays, these would all likely be on websites.

While the covers of these publications spark the imagination, the inside content isn’t available in digital form. If you know of any scanned copies of these pamphlets, particularly “Historic Old New Orleans,” please let me know.

Claiborne Mansion

The back cover of this guidebook features the courtyard of the Claiborne Mansion. This old house stands at 2111 Dauphine Street, in Faubourg Marigny. The mansion dates back to 1855. William C. C. Claiborne, used the house as a residence. Claiborne, served as the first governor of the Louisiana Territory. He then served as governor of the State of Louisiana (1812). The house currently welcomes guests as an inn. So, the Inn describes itself as “pet friendly.”

The Claiborne Mansion is a pet friendly establishment, and the mansion’s owner Cleo has always embraced the rich literary history of New Orleans, which at various times has been host to treasured authors like Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and John Kennedy Toole. When Cleo noticed that some of the neighborhood’s “free agent” cats were polydactyl, it seemed only fitting and in the proper literary spirit of things to christen them the Claiborne Cats, and welcome them to the mansion grounds as unofficial guests.

This is indeed fitting and proper!


Kenner Sanborn Maps

Kenner Sanborn Maps

Kenner Sanborn maps offer insight into the city in 1926.

kenner sanborn maps

Kenner Sanborn maps

This plate shows a section of Kenner, LA. Fire insurance companies used these maps to set rates for customers. Kenner Sanborn maps provide the underwriter with details on structures, streets, and railroads. They offer the historian a rich set of information on the evolution of a metro area. This map shows the area from what is now the Canadian National (formerly Illinois Central) right of way at Kenner Avenue, down to 3rd Street, towards the river. In modern Kenner, the top of this map marks the start of “Rivertown,” along Williams Boulevard.

Fire insurance

David Alfred Sanborn lined up clients for his map project in 1866. His work gained traction quickly. Insurance companies sought improvements in setting rates. He began with Boston and expanded to other large cities. Sanborn mapped the details insurance companies desired to set competitive rates. By 1916, Sanborn’s company grew to the point where they bought out all of their major competitors. So, by the creation of Kenner Sanborn maps 1926, these maps were the standard.

Kenner in 1926

The maps illustrate the city’s role at the time. Kenner was the “town” that Sicilian truck farmers drove to when they went “into town,” for supplies, news, and social functions. Kenner had two Baptist churches (segregated) and a Catholic parish, St. Mary’s. The archdiocese renamed St. Marys to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 1936.


Railroad links defined Kenner in 1926. Kenner Sanborn maps show three railroads, the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company Railroad, and the Illinois Central Railroad. The IC splits at Kenner. The IC segment turns north, heading across Lake Pontchartrain to Hammond, LA. The Yazoo and Mississippi Railroad continues west. “Kid Ory” and his jazz band took the Yazoo and Mississippi into New Orleans from LaPlace, to play gigs in the city on weekends.

The map shows freight and passenger platforms on the IC line, along with a number of industries on both sides of the railroad right-of-way.