Southern Railway Park stood just off from the tracks leading to Terminal Station.
Southern Railway Park
Franck Studios photos of Basin Street turning towards the lake in the late 1950s. The two parking tracks inside Southern Railway Park are visible on the left. Prior to 1954, railroad tracks leading out of Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets followed Basin, down to just before St. Louis Street. They turned lakebound at that point, heading into Mid-City. They connected with the “Back Belt” tracks, where trains turned east to cross the Industrial Canal and Lake Pontchartrain.
The New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) built a railroad passenger station on Canal Street in 1908. Southern Railway assumed control of the station when it acquired NOTC in 1916. Southern shifted their operations from Press Street Station in the Bywater to Faubourg Treme. Tracks ran along Basin from Canal Street to St. Louis. Additionally, Southern built a freight station, just before the tracks curved north. That station stood at 501 Basin, just out of the frame of these photos, on the left. A private concern purchased the freight building in the early 2000s, converting it into Basin Street Station, a visitors center and event venue.
After trains for Southern Railway (or Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio, the other railroad using Terminal Station) unloaded their passengers, they pulled off to a service yard. Engines pulled the train up past the Municipal Auditorium, then backed the cars into a side yard. Additionally, Southern trains carried “business cars” throughout the system. These cars looked like open-ended observation cars. They contained offices, bedrooms, and a kitchen. Railroad executives used these cars to travel the system.
When business cars came to New Orleans, the railroad parked them next to the passenger car service yard. Those tracks terminated in Southern Railway Park. The executives got a landscaped area where they could stretch their legs, or take a car to other parts of the city.
In 1954, the city consolidated passenger rail operations at Union Passenger Terminal, on Loyola Avenue. The city ordered the demolition of the five existing passenger stations. Southern Railway relocated the business car parking tracks to the location in this photo. They also moved several of the light fixtures like the one in this James H. Selzer photo from 1975.
Thanks to Mr. Maunsel White for sharing these photos on Facebook.
The Southern Railway Terminal on Basin Street serviced New Orleans for forty-six years.
Southern Railway Terminal
Franck Studios photo (via HNOC) of the Southern Railway Terminal, Canal and Basin Streets, downtown. This particular photo caught my eye because it’s a straight-on shot, rather than from an angle. The photographer stands in the Canal Street neutral ground. They shot the photo in-between streetcars. Krauss Department Store stands to the left. The Saenger Theater is visible to the right. Architect Daniel N. Burnham of Chicago, designer of the Flatiron building in New York, created this station. The New Orleans Terminal Company built it in 1908.
Not just Southern
While the electric sign at the top of the station’s arch proclaims Southern Railway, the Gulf, Mobile, and Northern (later Gulf, Mobile and Ohio) also operated here. The trains ran down Basin Street to St. Louis Street, where the tracks turned lakebound to head out of town. The Lafitte Corridor greenway runs the path of the old railroad tracks. The area remained abandoned for decades after passenger trains all moved over to Union Passenger Terminal on Loyola.
This Southern Rialway terminal photo contains interesting details to unpack. Two of the fleur-de-lis light poles that light up Canal Street to this day flank the station. Union Sheet Metal Company fabricated those poles for the city in 1930. The pole on the right has a sign promoting the Community Chest charity. Since Mayor Chep Morrison extensively used the light posts to promote seasonal causes and celebrations, this narrows the date down. While HNOC does not date the photo, it’s likely between 1950 and 1954.
Two men sit at small stands outside the Southern Railway terminal. One sits under an umbrella. I couldn’t read the words painted on either stand, so I put the question to the folks in Facebook’s “Ain’t There No More” group.. My original guess was the guy under the umbrella operated a food stand, and the other sold newspapers. Folks made out “ITEM” on the right-hand stand. That fits with the New Orleans Item newspaper. Longtime Times-Picayune photographer (and current director of the 1811 Kid Ory Historic House in Laplace) John McCusker says they’re both newsstands. Works for me!
A JAX truck at a body shop in 1959.
A truck owned by the Jackson Brewing Company, parked by an auto body shop in Algiers, Louisiana, 21-May-1959. Photo is from Franck Studios, via HNOC. Several law firms hired Franck Studios for legal photography. So, it’s likely that a commercial truck parked at a body shop was involved in a collision. The HNOC caption says the truck is parked at City Auto and Body Company. The JAX truck is a Dodge, but I don’t know the model. If you’re a car/truck person, feel free to chime in.
The Jackson Brewing Company operated on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. The Fabacher family named their company for Jackson Square, right across the street. The Fabachers brewed beer in the Quarter from 1890 to 1974.
While there was a vibrant German community in New Orleans, the Fabachers chose to name their beer after a New Orleans icon, Jackson Square. They shortened the brand name to JAX. The beer grew in popularity. This is significant, because New Orleans sported numerous local breweries at the beginning of the 20th Century. To expand the beer’s reach, the Fabachers opened s couple of restaurants. They served JAX in their establishments. PepsiCo used this business model, buying fast food chains like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. They replaced Coca-Cola products in those stores with Pepsi. As Jax Brewery grew, the company ran afoul of the “other JAX beer.”
The Jacksonville Brewing Company of Jacksonville, Florida, also branded their beer, JAX. By 1935, the two brands collided. The companies established regional sales boundaries to settle the dispute. The Jacksonville Brewing Company closed shop in 1954. The New Orleans brewery acquired exclusive rights to JAX. So, the JAX Truck traveling through NOLA neighborhoods was always the local JAX.
This JAX truck bears the words “Advertising Car” on the side. This told the town it carried no beer. The driver was likely a route salesman. This salesman drove from one bar to another, promoting his product. The advertising rep left printed material, such as posters, etc. The breweries either owned their own print shops or contracted with local shops. They made custom posters for just about anything. So long as the top of the printed material featured the beer’s logo, they’d print signs. The ad rep also carried branded glassware. He would gladly leave a case or two of glasses as he took that next order for keg delivery.
Barataria shrimp trawler heading to the Gulf of Mexico.
Barataria shrimp trawler
The “Karaset C,” a trawler, heading out Bayou Barataria to the white shrimp fishing zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Howard “Cole” Coleman, undated, likely in the late 1950s. There are five or six people on the boat. Photo is part of the Thelma Hecht Coleman Memorial Collection at the Howard-Tilton Library, Tulane University. I am not familiar with shrimp boats, so I don’t know much about the details of this craft. If you do, feel free to discuss in comments.
White shrimp season
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries monitors quantities of shrimp in the inshore/Louisiana parts of the Gulf of Mexico. They set the dates for fishing white shrimp. The season runs from mid-August to December.Some shrimping areas remain open, even into the summer. The idea is to allow shrimpers to go out and make a living while allowing time for the shrimp to hatch and grow to a size that makes harvesting economical. So, every village down the bayous held a “Blessing of the Fleet,” and off the boats went.
So, this is the time of year where the boats head out to the Gulf. A classic joke in South Louisiana is that everyone’s a shrimper during hard economic times. While this was true at the time of this photo, climate change, tropical weather, and oil/gas mishaps present challenges to shrimpers.
When a trawler like Karaset C pull in their daily limit, they head back to port. Part of the daily routine for these boats and their crews is to load up with ice, early in the morning. They drop the nets, pull in shrimp, then head back to the dock. Brokers and processors bought the catches from the boats. Keeping their catch fresh in the August heat meant the shrimpers worked the inshore areas as long as they could. Boats that went further out into the Gulf risked the shrimp spoiling.
Once at the dock the boats sold the catch. In the case of docks like the one at the old Violet packing plant, boats could sell direct to the plant. Brokers and buyers from other plants would go to public docks, buy shrimp, then process them. The Violet plant created three end products. They broke off the heads of large-count shrimp and flash-froze them. The rest of the catch would be steamed, then machine-peeled. They used a conveyor-belt style peeler. The plastic on the belt expanded and contracted. This cracked the shells, which fell through to the floor. The shrimp went down the conveyor, where they were either canned or frozen. When I did computer support for that plant, I would love making excuses to go down to the plant, rather than the office in Elmwood. Pick up a loaf of french bread on the way down, and…shrimp po-boys!
The Bridgedale branch of the Jefferson Parish Library system.
Photo of the interior of the Bridgedale branch in the Jefferson Parish Library system, 1940s. The photographer is not credited. The State Library of Louisiana dates the photo only to 1940-1949. Their caption says, “B&W photo, Circa 1940s. Jefferson Parish library. Bridgedale Library. Metairie, La. Standing Mrs. Mary Lindsey, seated unknown.” While the caption refers to “Bridgedale,” this is the “Old Metairie” library branch, on Metairie Road. The parish library system expanded in 1949. So, that narrows the date of the photo. It’s possible this photo dates to 1950-1951.
In her book, Legendary Locals of Metairie, Catherine Campanella explains that “Bridgedale” refers to the 1920s neighborhood leading up to the not-yet-built Huey P. Long Bridge. The first library branch in Metairie opened on Metairie Road and Atherton Street. While this location stands outside of the area recognized as “Bridgedale,” the branch picked up the name. After the state completed the actual bridge in the 1930s, the section of the parish from Central Avenue to Transcontinental Drive developed. In 1952, the parish opened Bridgedale Elementary, on Zinnia Street and West Metairie Avenue. Therefore, the nebulous neighborhood designation focused to the area flowing out from the bridge. Additionally, JPL opened the Wagner branch, on Kawanee Street, north of Veterans Blvd.
So, this photo is from Metairie Road. This was the first public library I used as a kid. We lived on Dream Court, just off Bonnabel Blvd. Like the other original library branches, the parish owned the building. They transferred it to the library system. My time as a Metairie branch patron was in the mid-1960s. So, when we moved closer to the 17th Street Canal, this branch was still the closest. We relied on bookmobile service. The parish system appreciated the distance factor. They brought the library to us. Eventually, JPL constructed the Lakeshore Branch. It stands at the corner of Oaklawn and W. Esplanade.
A real Bridgedale branch
In 1997, JPL opened the East Bank Regional Library, at 4747 W. Napoleon Avenue. This 100,000 sq ft facility stands between Clearview and Transcontinental. So, Bridgedale didn’t just get a branch. They got the main library!
Canal Street 1958 is a view from the roof of the Jung Hotel.
Canal Street 1958
Franck Studios photo of Canal Street, looking inbound towards the river. The Franck Studios photographer stands on the rooftop of the Jung Hotel, at 1500 Canal. Krauss Department Store stands in the 1201 block to the left, with the Hotel New Orleans in the 1300 block on the right. The Saenger Theater is across Basin Street from Krauss, with the iconic buildings of the 901 block (Audubon Building, Kress, and Maison Blanche) in the background, left. The studio shot this photo in 1958 or 1959.
Krauss in the 1950s
This photo offers a great view of the expansion progress of Krauss. The original store, built by Leon Fellman in 1903, consists of the two-story section fronting Canal Street. Fellman acquired the property in 1899. He built that first 2-story section and leased it to the Krauss Brothers. The brothers acquired the property behind the building, along Basin Street. In 1911, they built a five-story expansion. You can see the line/seam after four windows on each floor. Leon Heymann (the “Krauss Brother-in-Law”) built the third portion of the store in 1921. Heymann continued expanding the store until it filled the block between Canal and Iberville Streets.
While HNOC dates this picture at “approximately 1955,” the streetcar tracks narrow it down for us. Note the two-track configuration in the Canal Street neutral ground. With streetcar operation limited to Canal and St. Charles, the city ripped up the two outside tracks on Canal. The lines using those tracks had been converted to buses by 1948. So, Canal operated on the two tracks running from Liberty Place to City Park Avenue. One block of the inbound outside track remained, between Carondelet Street and St. Charles Avenue. St. Charles streetcars turned for their outbound run on that track.
The city planted the palm trees in this photo as part of the 1957 “beautification project.” They also built planter boxes along the neutral ground. Unfortunately, those palm trees only lasted about three years, because of a couple of cold winters.