Stein’s Canal Street occupied three different locations over the years.
Stein’s Canal Street
Ad for Stein’s Clothing in the Times-Picayune, September 21, 1972. Stein’s was originally located at 800 Canal Street, corner Carondelet Street, but moved up in the 800 block in 1948. By the 1960s, the store returned to the corner, but on the 700 block side of Carondelet. The store, part of a national chain, featured men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. Stein’s first came to New Orleans when Feibelman’s Department Store moved from 800 Canal to the corner of Baronne and Common Streets, in 1931.
Fellman’s to Feibelman’s to Stein’s
The old Pickwick Hotel building, now Stein’s Clothing, 1940
When retailer Leon Fellman split with his brother Bernard in 1886, he opened his own store at 901 Canal. This was the old Mercier Building, which replaced Christ Episcopal Church, at the corner of Canal and Dauphine. By 1897, S. J. Shwartz acquired the entire Mercier Building for his new department store, Maison Blanche. Shwartz evicted Fellman. Leon went across the street. He convinced the owners of the Pickwick Hotel at 800 Canal to let him convert their building into a department store. They agreed, and he opened Leon Fellman’s.
Leon passed away in 1920. His family dropped the Fellman surname, returning to the German version of their name, Feibelman. The family changed the name of the store from Leon Fellman’s to Feibelman’s. In 1931, the family acquired the old NOPSI building at Baronne and Common. They demolished the building (it had been severely damaged by fire) and constructed a new store there. That left 800 Canal available. Stein’s leased the building, bringing the chain to New Orleans.
Gus Mayer takes over
Stein’s, 810 Canal Street, 1948
In 1948, another out-of-town chain, Gus Mayer, bought the old Pickwick Hotel. Their New Orleans store was in a small building on the French Quarter side of the 800 block of Canal. Gus Mayer demolished the old building, constructing their flagship store in the city. That building remains at 800 Canal, occupied by a CVS Drugstore.
Gus Mayer’s purchase of the Pickwick building meant Stein’s had to find a new location. They moved next door, to 810 Canal Street. The store re-located a second time, to 738 Canal. So, by the 1950s, Stein’s stood on the river side of Carondelet and Canal, and Gus Mayer on the lake side of the corner.
Stein’s Gentilly Woods, 1960
In the late 1950s, Stein’s opened a second location, in Gentilly Woods. That explains the “Downtown Store Only” reference in this 1972 ad. The chain folded in the 1980s. Kid’s Footlocker currently occupies 738 Canal Street.
St. Aloysius bonds, a private issue to finance the completion of the new building.
St. Aloysius bonds.
Advertisement in the Times-Picayune, 15-April, 1925, for St. Aloysius bonds to finance the completion of the “new” school building. The Bond Department of Marine Bank and Trust, on Carondelet Street, managed the issuance of St. Aloysius bonds. From the ad copy:
These bonds will be the direct obligation of St. Aloysius College, which was founded in 1869, and was formerly located on Chartres and Barracks Streets, and moved to its present location in 1892, where it has steadily expanded.
This $80,000 issue in 1925 works out to just over $1.2 million in 2021 dollars.
Building the iconic school
After successfully navigating the years of the Southern Rebellion, the Archbishop of New Orleans invited the Brothers of the Sacred Heart to open a permanent school in New Orleans. The Institute operated St. Stanislaus College, in Bay St. Louis on the Gulf Coast. When Louisiana and Mississippi seceded from the Union, the BOSH closed St. Stanislaus to boarders. They dispatched several Brothers to New Orleans. They set up shop at Annunciation Church, in Faubourg Marigny. Those men taught the Stanislaus students in the city. They made sure those boys completed their schooling.
The Archdiocese offered the Institute a house on the corner of Chartres and Barracks in 1869. That building originally housed the officers of the Spanish army garrison in the city during the colonial period. In 1892, the Ursuline nuns left the mansion they used as a school, on Esplanade Avenue and N. Rampart Street. The archdiocese transferred that building to the BOSH. By the 1920s, however, the always-expanding St. Aloysius College outgrew the mansion. They negotiated a deal with the city to demolish the old building, allowing the city expand the N. Rampart Street neutral ground. The Institute required cash for furnishings, equipment, etc., to open the new building. These bonds provided the backbone of the financing.
St. Aloysius closed in the Spring of 1969, merging with Cor Jesu High to become Brother Martin High School in Gentilly.
Unpacking 1200 Canal, including neon, radio, and streetcars.
Unpacking 1200 Canal Street
Franck Studios photo, shot from Canal and Basin Streets, looking towards the river. HNOC dates this at approximately 1932. The fleur-de-lis lampposts and relatively-new improvements to Canal Street support this. Those were part of the 1930 “beautification” program for Canal. The city approved the road work and new lights after the disastrous transit strike in 1929. Ridership remained incredibly low in the wake of the strike. The city hoped that road work would both improve Canal Street and discourage individuals from driving automobiles downtown. Transit ridership never recovered its pre-strike numbers.
View from 1200 Canal Street
The photographer, who is not identified beyond working for Franck Studios, stands in front of Terminal Station, at Canal and Basin Streets. Krauss Department Store is behind him to the left. The Saenger Theater stands to the left, the Loews to the right. Neon signs and street-level advertising bombard pedestrians and streetcar riders alike, as they approach the main retail area of the city. The Maison Blanche building sports two large antennae on the roof. These are the transmission towers for WSMB Radio. The call letters “WSMB” stood for “Saenger-Maison Blanche.” The department store and theater partnered in radio. The theater promoted movies and shows, the store sold the hardware. Eventually, WWL radio bought WSMB, to get access to the Rush Limbaugh Show. Now, the station’s call letters are WWWL.
NOPSI 429, operating on the West End line
NOPSI 429 runs outbound, up Canal Street, on the West End line. West End stopped at all stops until Claiborne Avenue. The streetcars ran up Canal to City Park Avenue without stopping. They then turned left-and-right to head up West End Boulevard to the lake.
Perley A. Thomas designed the 400-series arch roofs while working for Southern Car Company. New Orleans Railway and Light liked the design. They bought a number of them for the St. Charles/Tulane Belts, as well as West End. The Canal line continued to use the Palace streetcars from American Car Company, until 1935.
Fort Livingston guards Bayou Barataria.
Photo of Fort Livingston and its lighthouse, from the 1930s. The fort stands on Grand Terre Island, on the Louisiana Gulf Coast. It’s the only military fortification in Louisiana along the Gulf Coast. Other defenses for New Orleans stand further inland. The Lafitte brothers, Jean and Pierre established their smuggling base on Grand Terre Island in the early 1800s. The US Navy attacked their base in 1814, forcing them to re-locate. The government needed the Lafittes out so they could build coastal defenses. They began construction in 1834. After some delays, work began in earnest in 1840. Gus Beauregard, then a Major in the US Army, supervised the fort’s construction. By 1856, the government added the original lighthouse. Photo is from the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program at LSU.
The secession government of Louisiana occupied Fort Livingston in 1861. The state placed the fort under the command of General Mansfield Lovell. Lovell garrisoned the fort with 300 rebel troops. Their mission was coastal defense, but the Union navy squadron did not approach New Orleans via Bayou Barataria. The fort offered protection to blockade runners leaving New Orleans via Bayou Barataria. The garrison, with their fifteen guns, prevented the Union Navy from approaching the coast. Once in the open Gulf, blockade runners sported a better chance of getting to foreign ports.
Lovell withdrew the fort’s garrison in April of 1862. The invasion of New Orleans by Farragut and Butler rendered use of Fort Livingston moot. After the rebellion, the Army reduced the garrison at the fort to a single sergeant. Commercial interests developed on Grand Terre in the 1860s, most notably a shrimp cannery, in 1867. A hurricane severely damaged the fort in 1872. They removed the guns in 1889.
The first lighthouse at the fort became operational in 1856. That structure remained until 1903. That’s when the lighthouse in this photo was built. The lighthouse underwent renovation in the late 1920s. The lighthouse sustained massive damage in a hurricane that hit Grand Terre, July 14-15, 1931. This helps date the photo to prior to that storm.
The Illinois Central Railroad operated the Panama Limited from Chicago to New Orleans.
Travel poster advertising the Panama Limited railroad route, 1929. The Illinois Central Railroad (IC) operated the route. The train ran from Chicago to New Orleans and return. The trip ran overnight, departing Chicago in the afternoon, arriving in New Orleans the next morning.
Illinois Central featured the Panama Limited as its flagship route. The train operated in “limited” service, running a consist of sleeper, diner, lounge, and observation cars. Since it was a luxury train, its advertising appealed to passengers with means. Travel to New Orleans, they suggested. Escape the stifling Summer heat of the big city with activities along the Gulf Coast! Come golf, swim, sail, fish, even play polo!
The IC operated their Chicago-New Orleans service as the Chicago and New Orleans Limited. On February 4, 1911, the railroad changed the route’s name in honor of the Panama Canal. Even though the canal did not open for another three years, the IC made a big deal of the achievement. A year later, in 1912, IC rolled out new equipment for the route. They solidified the route as an exclusive, first-class train. It made the trip in twenty-five hours.
The train transitioned to diesel and streamlined equipment in 1942. The 1944 timetable shows the train departed at 3:15pm, arriving in New Orleans at 9:15am the next morning.
When Amtrak took over passenger rail service in 1971, they dropped the route. The new entity retained the day train, the City of New Orleans. Later that year, Amtrak revived the Panama Limited, returning the schedule to an overnight run. In 1972, they once again dropped the Panama Limited name. Amtrak returned to the name, City of New Orleans, in the hopes they could leverage the popularity of Arlo Guthrie’s song of the same name.
The current Chicago to New Orleans trip on Amtrak’s City of New Orleans departs Chicago at 8:05pm, arriving in Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans at 3:47pm the following day, for a total trip of 19 hours and 42 minutes.
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.