NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019 – Streetcars and Spoons

NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019 – Streetcars and Spoons

Talking green streetcars and Benjamin Butler in NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019.

NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019

NOPSI 865, rounding the turn from S. Carrollton Avenue to St. Charles Avenue in 1960

NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019

Two segments this week. We talk about our pick of the week from Today in New Orleans History. Then we “unpack” a photo from 1960.

May 1, 1862

NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019

top of the broadside printing of Butler’s proclamation of martial law and occupation, 1-May-1862

While the United States Navy compelled the surrender of New Orleans on 25-May-1862, it was the Army that did the heavy lifting from there. Major General Benjamin Butler, USA, issued a proclamation on 1-May-1862, announcing that New Orleans was under the control of the federal government. He also declared martial law.

The rebels lost the war on the night of 24-25 April, 1862. While many people died and much was destroyed before the formal armistice, it was all over when New Orleans returned to Union control. Farragut forced the rebels to retreat north of the city. Butler came over from Ship Island with his invading force and moved in. Once martial law was established, most of the occupying force moved North as well, in pursuit of the rebels.

“Spoons”

Butler was pretty much an awful person. He had a massive ego. To be fair, so did Farragut and Porter. All three commanders claimed credit for the victory in New Orleans. It’s hard to say who was the worst in this respect, but Butler received the most disparagement. The Lost Cause mythos plays out locally, portraying Butler as a venal man and petty thief. The “spoons” legend is an example. Butler and the USA had orderly procedures for occupying New Orleans. They confiscated gold and silver from residents. Butler didn’t pocket spoons, he sent his troops to loot entire houses!

Inauguration Day

May 1st is Inauguration Day in New Orleans. Two notable 1-May inaugurations were in 1978, when Ernest Nathan “Dutch” Morial officially became the city’s first African-American mayor. Last year, 2018, Latoya Cantrell became the city’s first woman mayor. It’s important to note that 1-May was set as inauguration day by the charter changes of 1954. As much as grumpy liberals who hate Mitch Landrieu want to slander him, he didn’t engineer a way to stay around through the city’s Tricentennial.

NOPSI 865, 1960

Our photo this week is of NOPSI 865, a vintage-1923 arch roof streetcar. This “Charley car” turns from S. Carrollton Avenue to St. Charles Avenue, on an inbound run. We unpack the photo in NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019.

The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com

I’m working on a long-form pod about Da Paper, now that it looks like John Georges is going to vaporize it. That will go up in 2-3 weeks. Working on preserving the memories of the “digital” years.

Support NOLA History Guy on Patreon! 

 

NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-April-2019 Southern Rebellion

NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-April-2019 Southern Rebellion

The best of “Today in New Orleans History” for this week, and unpacking a photo on this week’s NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-April-2019.

NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-April-2019

Two short segments today on NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-April-2019. Take a moment from your Festing and check them out.

Rebel Surrender, 25-April-1862.

NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-April-2019

“Panoramic View of New Orleans-Federal Fleet at Anchor in the River, ca. 1862.” – Illustration from Campfires and Battlefields by Rossiter, Johnson, et al. (New York, 1894)

Our pick from Today in New Orleans History’s entries this week is April 25th, the capture of New Orleans.

Flag-Officer David Farragut, United States Navy commanded the Union blockade squadron charged with invading New Orleans. In April, 1862, he took that squadron, into the Mississippi River, via Southwest Pass. A squadron of mortar vessels under the command of Captain Donald Porter followed Farragut. The invading force pounded Fort St. Jackson and Fort St. Phillip. These forts were the main defenses below the city. German and Irish soldiers in the rebel army mutinied on the night of April 24th. Farragut led his ships to that side of the river. Thirteen Union vessels passed the forts. The city woke up to Union guns aimed at the city. Farragut compelled the surrender of the city the following day. Major General Benjamin Butler arrived and occupied the city on May 1, 1862.

The loss of New Orleans demonstrated the abject incompetence of the rebel government. New Orleans was the largest port in the rebel states.

Unpacking a Photo – Pontchartrain Beach

NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-April-2019

Pontchartrain Beach by Jane Brewster

Another event in Campanella’s “Today in New Orleans History” this week was the inaugural run of the Zephyr coaster at Pontchartrain Beach. The Milneburg location of the amusement park opened in April, 1939. On 23-April-1939, the park’s premier attraction, the Zephyr, opened. The wooden roller coaster operated until the park closed in 1983.

Our image for this pod is a Jane Brewster print of the main entrance of Da Beach, in the 1950s. A GM “Old Looks” bus ends its run at the beach. The Beach is fifteen or twenty years old at this time. The Zephyr coaster is visible on the right. Riders entered the coaster via an Art Deco station. They boarded one of the two trains and rode up that first section. Jane shows  a train as it reaches the top. Riders would hold their hands over their heads, at least for that first downhill pass. The coaster took riders over several hills, then made a sweeping turn, returning to the station via a series of small bumps behind the large hills.

Independent Booksellers Day

New Orleans During the Civil War Facebook Group

Pontchartrain Beach Podcast from 2016

Last week’s podcast

Algiers 1865 – New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western RR

Algiers 1865 – New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western RR

Algiers 1865, The railroads were a lifeline for the Union.

Algiers 1865

Trains at the Algiers Terminal of the New Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western Railroad, in 1865. The NOO&GW served the Union forces after the capture of New Orleans in 1862.

The NOO&GW

algiers 1865

portion of J. H. Colton’s map of Louisiana, 1863.

The railroad was chartered in 1852. Track construction began in Algiers. Track reached Morgan City in 1857. Morgan City was the western terminus for the company. NOO&GW used “Texas gauge” of 5’6″ until 1872, when Morgan converted the tracks to standard gauge.

Because it originated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, the railroad didn’t need ferries or bridges going west. Businesses using NOO&GW ferried their goods across the river to Algiers, then loaded them on trains. This made for an easy route west.

When Louisiana seceded from the Union, rebel leaders knew a blockade of the Gulf Coast was eminent. The state considered NOO&GW important as a land connection to Texas. The Union Navy captured New Orleans in late April, 1862. The Union Army moved immediately, taking control of NOO&GW in May, 1862. While rebel troops managed to re-capture some of the tracks near Morgan City in May, the Union troops regained complete control by November, 1862. From there to the end of the war, the railroad serviced the Union.

Ownership

Benjamin Franklin Flanders founded NOO&GW. He sold the railroad to shipping magnate Charles Morgan in 1869. Morgan re-named the railroad, Morgan’s Louisiana and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company. He later sold the company to the Southern Pacific Railroad. The NOO&GW merged into the SP system, becoming part of its main line.

Algiers

Southern Pacific expanded the original NOO&GW terminal in the 1890s. SP operated a large yard in Algiers, until the Huey P. Long Bridge opened in the 1930s. The railroad moved their yard to Avondale then, taking advantage of the new bridge. Even now, many Algiers residents refer to the area between Atlantic and Thayer streets as the “SP Yard.”

 

 

 

 

Smokey Mary – The Pontchartrain Railroad in the 1860s #TrainThursday

Smokey Mary – The Pontchartrain Railroad in the 1860s #TrainThursday

Smokey Mary linked Faubourg Marigny to Milneburg for almost a century

Smokey Mary

The Smokey Mary at Milneburg, 1860s.

Smokey Mary

The Pontchartrain Railroad operated from 1831 to 1930. The trains ran out to the fishing village of Milneburg. A port facility developed along the lakefront at Milneburg. The railroad connected that port to the city. The Pontchartrain Railroad carried freight and passengers. After the Civil War, it ran mostly as a day-trip line. By the end of the 19th Century, it carried almost exclusively passengers.

The railroad purchased two steam engines in 1832. Those engines lasted for about twenty years. The railroad cannibalized one for parts to keep the other going. By the late 1850s, the railroad purchased the larger engine shown in the photo above. This engine operated to the end of the 1800s. The big smokestack inspired most of the stories and memories of the train.

The Smokey Mary ran simply from the Milneburg Pier to a station at Elysian Fields and the river. Eventually, the railroad added a stop at Gentilly Road, but it was only by request. The railroad terminated operations in 1930. The WPA paved Elysian Fields from river to lake in the late 1930s. Pontchartrain Beach opened in Milneburg in 1939.

Milneburg

The village of Milneburg was located at the end of what is now Elysian Fields Avenue. Shipping traffic came in from the Gulf of Mexico, through Lake Borgne, into Lake Pontchartrain. Ships docked at the Milneburg pier. Merchants offloaded their goods and put them on the Pontchartrain Railroad, to bring them down to the city.

Jazz on the Lakefront

By the 1910s, Milneburg’s residents lived mostly in fishing camps. Musicians rode the Smokey Mary out to Milneburg to play some of the small restaurants. They also walked the piers, playing for locals. They busked for tips. This kept them busy during the day. The musicians rode the train back to the city in the late afternoon. They then played gigs at dance halls and saloons in town.

Streetcar Monday: the St. Charles Hotel and “bobtails”

Streetcar Monday: the St. Charles Hotel and “bobtails”

St. Charles Hotel

st. charles hotel

St. Charles Avenue, ca 1870. S. T. Blessing photo, in the public domain.

St. Charles Hotel

Two “bobtail” streetcars, manufactured by the Johnson Car Company, approaches the St. Charles Hotel in the 1870s. The St. Charles Hotel opened in 1837. The original building was destroyed by fire on January 18, 1851. Therefore, this is the “second” St. Charles Hotel. This building also burned down, on April 1, 1894. The owners rebuilt, and that building remained until its demolition in 1974. An office tower, Place St. Charles, replaced the hotel.

The Streetcars

Service began on the St. Charles line in 1834. The operator was the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad Company (NO&CRR). Initial service was steam-powered, but the noise and smoke forced the company to switch. They chose mule-power. Horses cannot tolerate the New Orleans heat and humidity like mules. The “bobtail” car from Johnson operated on St. Charles. It was well-accepted by riders. The NO&CRR maintained a car facility at the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues. It included a barn for the mules.

The New Orleans City Railroad (NOCRR) began service on Canal Street in 1861. They also used bobtails. So, by the 1870s, these streetcars ran all over the city.

Civil War HQ

The St. Charles Hotel was the initial headquarters for Louisiana troops in the Southern rebellion. Major General David Twiggs set up shop at the St. Charles in May, 1861. Twiggs resigned his commission in October, 1861, citing poor health. Major General Mansfield Lovell replaced him. So, Lovell kept the headquarters at the hotel.

Blessing Stereos

St. Charles Hotel

Full stereo card of the St. Charles Hotel, by S. T. Blessing, ca 1870. Public domain image.

This image is part of a collection of stereo photographs taken by New Orleans photographer, S. T. Blessing. The Blessing collection ranges from 1865 to 1892, with most of the photos taken in the 1870s. The early 1870s fits for this photo. The bobtails operated on St. Charles until 1893. That was when the NO&CRR electrified the line.

My interest in this particular photo, other than it’s a great shot of the 200 block of St. Charles, is for a fiction project. My story begins in 1861. So, the St. Charles Hotel was ten years old then. It was a focal point for social and business gatherings in the “American Sector” of the city.

 

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

a. shwartz and son

The Touro Buildings, ca. 1860

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

I didn’t research Abraham Shwartz too deeply when I wrote the Maison Blanche book. His son, Simon, was the main character there, being the founder of the department store chain. So, I made a few notes, wrote out the family tree, and got on with telling the story of MB.

A few years after the MB book, which came out in 2012, I developed an idea for a fiction project. It’s set in the 1860s in New Orleans. That idea came from an illustration I came across while researching the BOSH book. My fictional main character has encounters with fictional versions of real-life folks, and he told me that Abraham Shwartz was one of them.

Researching the shopkeeper

A. Shwartz and Son

Child’s coat, sold by A. Shwartz and Son, 1858. (Courtesy Civil War Talk user “RobertP”)

So, I needed to learn more about Abraham. I knew he was proprietor of the store that bore his name, in the 700 block of Canal Street. I knew he passed away in 1892, after that store burned in a massive fire that took out many of the shops in the Touro buildings. I needed to learn more about Abraham in 1860.

Off to the Internet I went! I still haven’t found a decent photo or portrait of Abraham. I found interesting things about the store, though. This girl’s coat was one of them. I found it on the site, Civil War Talk. Here’s the original post:

18thVa., several posts back I posted a picture of a g-g grandmother taken about 1868. Her daughter was my g-grandmother and I have a coat she wore as a child before the CW. The tie to this thread is that is was purchased by her father on a trip to New Orleans (their place was in N. La.) according to the label from A. Shwartz and Son, 161 Canal Street, NOLA, and a card pinned inside reads that she wore it in 1858 when she would have been 7 years old. The only reference to Abraham Schwartz Dry goods was after the war when he was located in the 700 block of Canal, and that it burned, he died, and his son reopened the mercantile business across the street that became Maison Blanche.

700 Block – Touro Buildings

The original poster has the addresses confused, which is not uncommon. Until 1900, Canal Street addresses started with “1” and went by building. After 1900, the addressed followed traditional block numbers. Therefore, 161 Canal Street became part of the 700 block.

Back to the coat! While this isn’t an image of Mr. Abraham, it’s still something from the time frame of the fiction project. You just know it’ll end up in the writing.

 

Maison Blanche Department Stores

by Edward J. Branley

mb book

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

On October 30, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building 13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors. The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character Mr. Bingle, in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.