There’s always activity at the Claiborne Terminal.
Claiborne Terminal 1978
It was hectic at the end of the St. Charles line on 18-August-1978. Michael Palmieri captured this shot of three vintage-1923 arch roof streetcars, (l-r) NOPSI 914, 923, 962. NOPSI 923 blocks the other two streetcars. On the left, 914 can’t move forward, and 962 can’t enter the terminal. All three streetcars survived the 1964 massacre, when the Canal line transitioned to bus service. NOPSI kept 35 of the Perley Thomas streetcars for St. Charles. The route of the St. Charles line runs from this terminal, at S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton Avenue, inbound down S. Carrollton, turning onto St. Charles, where the line runs into downtown.
Here’s Mike’s caption for the photo from Facebook:
We’re not sure what misfortune has befallen New Orleans Public Service car 923, but the big truck parked on the other end of the car and the large contingent of sidewalk supervisors indicate that something is amiss. We’re standing on South Carrollton Avenue facing the outer end of the line at South Claiborne Avenue. The car on the right has changed direction, and is ready to head back to Canal Street. The inbound car in the background is the 914. Plum Street is behind us and Willow Street is right on the other side of the 914.
Since this mishap happened on S. Carrollton, it was easy for supervisors from the Rail Department to come up to Claiborne Terminal from Carrollton Station.
As Mike mentions, there’s a truck behind 923. The sequence to get the line back moving would be, send 962 inbound. The streetcar is on the outbound track, but the operator will switch to inbound at S. Carrollton and Willow, by the streetcar barn.
With 962 out of the way, that big truck can push 923 forward through the crossover, onto the inbound track. If the problem was with 923 itself, the truck could push the streetcar to the switch at S. Carrollton and Jeanette Street, and into the barn. Assuming the track and overhead are OK, NOPSI 914 can then leave Claiborne Terminal and head inbound, following 962.
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.
The Cartier Bus line ran in Gentilly.
Photo from Aaron Handy, III, of two streetcars and a “old looks” bus at Carrollton Station in the mid-1970s. Here’s his caption from the “Vintage New Orleans Transit” group on the Book of Face: “Charley cars 951 and 961 rest at Carrollton Station And Shops, with NOPSI GM old look bus 1930, curiously assigned to Cartier!”
NOPSI 951 and 961 were two of the thirty-five arch roof streetcars that survived the slaughter of 1964. At this time, mid-1970s, the extent of the Rail Department’s operations was the St. Charles line, from S. Claiborne terminal, looping around at Carondelet and Canal Streetsl, back to St. Charles Avenue, for the outbound run.
Buses at Carrollton Station
The bay next to the streetcars has no rails. The station housed trackless trolleys until 1964. After NOPSI converted trolley bus service back to regular buses, they housed those buses at Canal Station, Carrollton, and Arabella. Aaron is right, a bus working on the Cartier line parked Uptown is curious!
Gentilly transit service
Cartier! That line was one of my ways home from Brother Martin High School. The line primarily served as school buses. Fed FW Gregory Jr High to JFK. Here’s the route:
- Outbound from Franklin Ave. at Mirabeau Avenue.
- Up Mirabeau to St. Bernard
- Stop at Mirabeau and Press along the way. This was a huge stop, since it connected F. W. Gregory Jr. High, down the street on Press.
- Up St. Bernard to Toussaint
- Turn left on Toussaint to cross the bayou
- Stop at Spanish Fort
- U-turn on Toussaint, then right on Wisner (cross the bayou)
- Down Wisner to JFK. End of route.
- Return: reverse the direction, back to Franklin Avenue
While Cartier wasn’t the only option to get back to Metairie, it allowed me to hang out with friends who lived in Lakeview a bit longer. We’d ride Cartier to Spanish Fort, then transfer to the Canal (Lake Vista via Canal Blvd) line, or its “Express” line, 80. The express drivers didn’t charge us the extra nickel, since they knew we exited in Lakeview. The Lake Vista bus turned at Toussaint and Canal Blvd, heading inbound. We would either ride to City Park Avenue, or exit at Toussaint. The Canal (Lakeshore via Pontchartrain Blvd) bus began its inbound run at Canal Blvd and the lake. We caught it at Toussaint, and rode up to Veterans. Then it was JeT out to Metairie.
Those GM “Old Looks” buses were long gone from most routes by the mid-1970s. NOPSI promoted/sold discontinuing streetcars on Canal by offering air-conditioned service from Lakeview, all the way into town. Since the Cartier and Lake lines were essentially school buses for JFK Senior High, the company didn’t mind retaining the old buses. At least the seats were comfortable.
Amtrak’s Panama Limited began operations in 1971.
Amtrak’s Panama Limited
Paul Oliver photo of Amtrak’s Panama Limited, 5-May-1974. This is train #58, heading northbound from New Orleans to Chicago. Here’s Mike Palmieri’s caption, from a Facebook group:
AMTK No. 58 – NEW ORLEANS AREA – 5 MAY 1974 – Paul Oliver image
Amtrak train No. 58 – the northbound PANAMA LIMITED – was highballing through EAST BRIGDE JUNCTION, probably doing the speed limit of 60, on its way out of the New Orleans area. The train consisted of Illinois Central E8A units 4028 (in Amtrak colors), 4023 and 4027 with 14 cars, including deadheading dome-sleepers 9212 and 9211. The rest of the train consisted of baggage car 1020, 6-6-4 sleepers 2153 *SILVER IRIS *and 2152 SILVER HYACINTH, dining car 8029, lounge car 3353 and seven coaches: 5459, 5248, 5266, 5267, 4843, 4402 and 5233. The 4028 was passing a slightly newer General Motors product, a 1967 Oldsmobile CUTLASS coupe.
Amtrak took over passenger rail operations three years prior to this photo, in 1971. The nationalization of passenger rail in the US meant a lot movement of equipment. The existing railroads turned over their passenger equipment to Amtrak. Therefore, the Panama Limited continued to operate Illinois Centeral (IC) equipment.
By 1974 Amtrak repainted much, but not all of their rolling stock. Three locomotives pull #58 here. An IC EMD E8A-B-A trio lead. The two A units sport Amtrak livery, but the B unit remains in IC colors. The two dome cars following the locos one wears Amtrak, the other appears to still be IC brown and orange.
This mash-up of colors and equipment continued throughout the 1970s. While the early years presented combinations of Amtrak and single railroad colors, trains became more diverse as equipment moved around the country. Eventually, Amtrak replaced “heritage” equipment with newer, modern cars. The last of the original, pre-1971 cars to roll were diner cars. Amtrak replaced these cars with newer diners in the 2010s.
Panama Limited to City of New Orleans
Amtrak branded the New Orleans-Chicago line, “Panama Limited,” retaining the name of IC’s flagship train. When Arlo Guthrie recorded his iconic version of “City of New Orleans,” the railroad changed this route’s name to IC’s second route. So, #58 and #59 now bear the name, City of New Orleans.
Graduation 1970 took place in the Rivergate Convention Center on Canal Street.
Brother Jean Sobert, SC, Director of Student Activities, gives last-minute instructions at Graduation 1970. The Charter Class of Brother Martin High School graduated in May, 1970. The commencement exercises took place at the Rivergate. Brother Jean speaks to a member of the NJROTC Color Guard, who participated in the ceremony. Brother Mark Thornton, SC, presided over the commencement as the school’s first principal.
The Class of 1970 set the tone for the opening and initial growth of the school. There was a lot of disappointment and sadness at the end of the 1968-69 school year. The students at Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius closed their schools. The classes of 1969 moved on. The rising seniors, along with the underclassmen, gathered on Elysian Fields in August of 1969 to open the new school. Brother Mark worked hard to bring the student bodies together, moving back and forth between Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius, talking to those rising seniors. He brought students into the planning over that interim summer.
One of the biggest things that unified Brother Martin in those first years was success in athletics. The basketball team, led by Coach Andy Russo, brought state championships home that first year, and in the 1970-71 season as well. Those teams combined the athletes from both schools. The 1969-70 team not only won state, but was ranked at the top of several national polls at the end of the season. The gym, now named for Coach Bob Conlin, offered a great (if not a tad warm) facility for basketball games. The facility held the entire student body and faculty for Mass and other assemblies.
Athletic success blended the disparate faculties and student bodies almost completely by the Fall of 1971. That’s when the football team won the 4-A state championship. The final game pit the Crusaders against neighborhood rival, St. Augustine High School, at Tad Gormley.
With the combination of Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius, class size exceeded 300 in grades 9-12. (Eighth Grade was about 100 students.) The school required a larger facility for commencement. While St. Frances Cabrini Church, on Paris Avenue, was a lovely place for Cor Jesu commencements, even that facility would be crowded. The Rivergate Convention Center opened in 1968. It provided a location large enough to accommodate faculty, student body, parents and guests.
The Canal Lakeshore bus took over for the West End line.
Canal Lakeshore bus
Photo of Canal Street, showing Flxible buses operating on the various “Canal Street” lines, after the conversion of the Canal line to buses in 1964. NOPSI cut back streetcar operations on Canal Street to a single block, on what was the inbound outside track. Arch roof streetcars on the St. Charles line, like the one in the photo. I can’t make out which of the 35 remaining 1923-vintage streetcars makes the turn on the left side. If you can sort it out, let me know. The photographer stands in the “Canal Street Zone,” just on the river side of St. Charles Avenue.
Post-streetcar Canal buses
The official name for the line NOPSI 314 rolls on in this photo is, “Canal – Lakeshore via Pontchartrain Boulevard.” Here’s the route.
- Canal Street and the river
- “Canal Street Zone” lakebound to Claiborne Avenue
- Merge into auto lanes at Claiborne, continue outbound to City Park Avenue
- Left turn at City Park Avenue
- Right Turn at West End Blvd.
- Left turn under the Pontchartrain Expressway (later I-10) overpass at Metairie Road.
- Right turn onto Pontchartrain Boulevard
- Continue outbound on Pontchartrain Boulevard
- Right-turn on Fleur-de-lis Avenue (prior to I-10)
- Curve around on Pontchartrain Blvd, go under I-10, continue to Fleur-de-Lis. Left turn onto Fleur-de-Lis. (after I-10)
- Lakebound on Fleur-de-Lis to Veterans
- Right on Veterans to West End Blvd.
- Left on West End to Robert E. Lee Blvd. (Now Allen Toussant Blvd.)
- Right on Toussaint to Canal Blvd.
- Left on Canal Blvd to bus terminal at the lake.
- Depart Canal Blvd terminal, riverbound.
- Right turn on Toussaint to Pontchartrain Blvd.
- Pontchartrain Blvd to Veterans, right turn on Veterans
- Left turn on Fleur-de-Lis
- Fleur-de-Lis back to Pontchartrain Blvd.
- Pontchartrain Blvd to City Park Avenue
- Left on City Park Avenue, the right onto Canal Street
- Canal Street, riverbound to the river.
This route, was one of the main killers of the Canal streetcars. Air-conditioning all the way into town. No change from West End to the streetcar at City Park Avenue.
Canal buses in the 1970s
By the time I rode the Canal buses in the 1970s, on my way to and from Brother Martin, I could hop on any of the three Canal lines, to get to City Park Avenue. Canal Cemeteries ended at City Park Avenue. Canal-Lake Vista and Canal-Lakeshore split there, but all I needed was to get to the outbound Veterans bus.