Turner’s Canal Street at Night

Turner’s Canal Street at Night

Unpacking Homer E. Turner’s Canal Street at Night painting offers interesting details.

canal street at night

Turner’s Canal Street at Night

Painting, “Canal Street at Night” by Homer E. Turner, 1950. The artists stands in the neutral ground of Canal Street at N. Rampart. Turner looks up Canal, towards the lake. Released from the restrictions of the war, neon signs dominate the street. While there are numerous color photos from the period, this painting is so detailed, it’s not surprising that casual viewers take it for a photograph, maybe on a rainy evening where the camera lens was a bit misty.

Homer E. Turner

Born in 1898, Turner painted New Orleans scenes from 1938 to 1950. The landmarks captured in this painting place it at the end of that period. He died in 1981. The New Orleans Art League, an offshoot of the Arts and Crafts Club of New Orleans. took notice of Turner’s work and exhibited his paintings. The League featured visiting artists in shows at their gallery 630 Toulouse Street. They also held annual exhibitions at the Delgado Museum of Art (now the New Orleans Museum of Art).

Canal Street, 1950

Turner captures Canal Street, above Rampart. The established retail stores in the city stood in blocks closer to the river. Starting with Godchaux’s in the 501 block, shopping came to an end in with Maison Blanche in the 901. j

That changed in the first half of the 20th Century. Leon Fellman, bought the houses in the 1201 block of Canal in the late 1890s. He built a new store building there and leased it to the Krauss Brothers. By 1908, Southern Railway moved their passenger terminal to Canal and Basin Streets, next to Krauss. Move theaters, such as the Saenger, Loews, and Joy, popped up. While not physically on Canal Street, the Roosevelt Hotel, (originally the Grunewald) towered over Canal.

Turn on the lights

Nighttime changed the vibe of Canal Street. The stores closed around 6pm daily. So, nobody ran downtown to pick up something in the evening. Streetcars carried workers and shoppers alike to the residential sections of the city. By dusk, signs on Canal Street enticed riders and drivers with things other than shopping. Some signs were practical in nature, such as The Roosevelt’s, directing drivers to turn onto Baronne Street and the hotel’s entrance.Other hotels, such as the Hotel New Orleans (now the Vinache) and the Jung, made sure visitors and taxi drivers knew where they were going. So, advertisers presented large neon clocks to those on the street. They kept people looking up. Additionally, the marquees of the theaters proclaimed what was playing that evening, and you didn’t want to be late.

Food and beverage products used neon, enticing passersby to eat Blue Plate products, such as mayonnaise and coffee. Then there was Three Feathers, a popular blended American whiskey. You might

It was not uncommon for stores to light up the night in front of their main entrances. The one prominent exception to this on Canal Street was Maison Blanche. So, its thirteen-story building (behind the artist in this painting) stood large without illumination.

After the rain

Turner shows the streetcar tracks in the center of Canal Street as if it’s just rained. The neon reflects on the concrete. the rows of fleur-de-lis lamposts reflect as well. That rain was likely welcomed by diners and moviegoers waling the street in its aftermath.





Bridge Administration Building, Jefferson #TrainThursday

The Huey P. Long Bridge Administration Building, on the east bank.

bridge administration building

Bridge Administration Building

The State of Louisiana built the Huey P. Long Bridge in 1934-35. They included a Bridge Administration Building in the project. So, they located the building on the East Bank side. It stood in what is now Elmwood, Louisiana. From the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) survey summary:

Significance: The Huey P. Long Bridge, Administration was built as part of the Huey P. Long Bridge project and designated as Contract No. 10. It was built to house the administrative offices of the Louisiana Highway and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Commission. Also the control room for the bridge operations. The simple Modern/Beaux-Arts style building was designed by renowned Lousiana Architects; Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth of New Orleans who also designed the new nationally significant 1932 Modern/Beaux-Arts style Louisiana State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

bridge administration building

Building floor plan

HAER surveys, along with Historic American Building Surveys (HABS) are done by the Department of the Interior to preserve detailed records of historic structures which may end up demolished at some point. For example, there’s a HABS survey of old Canal Station (now the location of the A. Phillip Randolph bus facility, operated by NORTA) at Canal and N. White Streets in Mid-City. While the best result for these buildings would be preservation, at least we have these records.

Crossing the river

bridge administration building

Plaque marking the construction of the Huey.

The Huey P. Long Bridge provided New Orleans with its first overhead river crossing, Prior to its opening, people and goods crossed via ferries. A number of companies operated passenger ferries. Morgan Steamship (Southern Pacific Railroad) operated a ferry in the Marigny. It moved railcars from Esplanade Avenue to Algiers. From there, trains traveled to Houston and points West. SP later constructed ferry landings in Jefferson and Avondale. They used that crossing until the Huey opened.

Control room?

bridge administration building

Phone box used by the Huey P. Long Bridge staff in the Bridge Administration Building

The building housed the Louisiana Highway Commision and the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.  Additionally, it included a “control room” for the bridge. The Public Belt staff monitored railroad traffic on the approaches. Automobile traffic was secondary to rail for decades. (Anyone driving the original auto lanes on the Huey appreciates this.) The control room maintained communications with the switch towers. Supervisors manned the control room. Phones routed through the switchboard room.

Bridge Administration Building

Switchboard room

Fate of the building

NPS published this HAER in 1968. The Public Belt demolished it after the survey. Additionally, a self-storage facility now stands on the site.

Dining, Dancing, Entertainment 1978

Dining, Dancing, Entertainment 1978

New Orleans offered great options for Dining, Dancing, Entertainment in 1978.

dining, dancing, entertainment

Dining, Dancing, Entertainment.

Summertime in New Orleans in the 1970s offered a wide variety of going-out options, from dining to live music, to a night at Da Beach. Begue’s at the Royal Sonesta Hotel offered a different spread on the lunch buffet daily. We would go on Thursdays, when it was the big seafood buffet (above).

dining, dancing, entertainment

Vincenzo’s, 3000 Severn, in #themetrys tempted folks into their world “of Good Food, of Good Drinks, of Great Entertainment.” Creole-Italian food, a solid bar and a good wine list, and a piano man for live music, five days a week. The location is the strip mall next to Breaux Mart on Severn. It’s now boutiques and a Hallmark store.

dining, dancing, entertainment

The Monteleone Hotel on Royal Street presented “Steaks Unlimited” as one of their restaurants. The Sunday Brunch at the hotel featured breakfast food and Creole classics. While some brunch spreads provided the bare minimum for guests who didn’t want to venture out, The Monteleone competed for locals coming into town for a day of sightseeing.

Dancing and Live Music

Disco Dancing at Da Beach (top)! A night out riding the Zephyr and the “Ragin Cajun” roller coasters required fashion choices other than nice clubbing clothes. Still, 1978 was peak disco. So, the amusement park turned the main stage (more-or-less in the center of the midway) into an outdoor disco, Monday thru Friday nights. On Saturdays and Sundays, Da Beach held a “Gong Show.” Local radio DJs emceed these crazy talent shows.

dining, dancing, entertainment

For a show/club experience, The Front Page featured a classic two-shows-a-night band/review. Tommy Cook and the Platters entertained at the Fat City club the week of 13-18 June, 1978. No cover, weeknights and Sundays.


dining, dancing, entertainment

Not interested in sweating out at Da Beach? Tulane’s Summer Lyric Theater presented three musicals in the Summer of 1978. Theater enthusiasts turned out at Dixon Hall on the Uptown campus for “Girl Crazy,” “Die Fledermaus,” and “Camelot.” Tulane’s Summer Lyric Theater is still going strong in 2022.

New Orleans entertained itself nicely during the Oil Boom of the late 1970s. As Boom turned into Bust, we began to re-invent ourselves, offering tourist-oriented attractions on a larger scale.


D-Day in Da Paper 6-June-1944

D-Day in Da Paper 6-June-1944

D-Day in Da Paper greeted New Orleans on the morning of the invasion.


D-Day in Da Paper

When New Orleans woke up on June 6, 1944, the Times-Picayune headline reported German accounts that the invasion was underway. Those reports were unconfirmed by Eisenhower’s HQ in London. Most of the reporting reflects the basic strategy. Analysts in the US spoke in general terms, mainly because they didn’t know exactly what was happening. The conventional wisdom in 1944 was that the Allies would take the shortest trip across the English Channel, Dover to Pas-de-Calais in France. The initial accounts report Allied bombing in and around Le Harve. The initial airborne drops in Normandy were considered staging for other operations:

“Anglo American parachute troops are bailing out on the northern tip of the Normandy peninsula to capture several airfields in order to make room for further landings of parachute troops.”

So, this reflected the German belief (specifically, Rommel’s belief) that the Normandy operations were a feint, or support for the full invasion at Calais. Not sure exactly what was happening, Rommel hesitated on moving into Normandy:

In an amphibious operation of such a gigantic size and complexity, it has been expected that the Germans would hold their main forces in reserve until it was determined where the major Allied strike would fall.

Ike’s gamble on Rommel’s plan worked.



Later in the day, when official news arrived across the Atlantic, Da Paper published an eight-page EXTRA with a lot more detail. While the morning edition reported the German’s announcements, updates came in as New Orleans had its morning coffee:

The invasion, which Eisenhower called “a great crusade” was announced at 7:32 a. m. Greenwich mean time. This was 2:32 a. m. Central war time in New Orleans. They labeled the first announcement Communique No. 1.

“Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied Naval Forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France.”

The EXTRA also published Ike’s Order of the Day, addressing the forces under his command.


It’s important to remember that most of the iconic images from 5-6 June, 1944, didn’t appear in newspapers for quite some time. The T-P printed a photo of Ike at his desk, a fairly benign photo. We wouldn’t see him having a smoke with Airborne troops, etc, until much later.

Be sure to see the whole story at the National World War II Museum.

Carrollton Shopping Center 1964

Carrollton Shopping Center 1964

Carrollton Shopping Center took advantage of the Pontchartrain Expressway.

carrollton shopping center

Gus Mayer

“Keep cool, in sleeveless dresses, deftly shaped…” Summer dresses in dacron-polyester from Gus Mayer. This ad, from the Times-Picayune on 4-June-1964. The store sold these dresses in the “Career Shop-Young Moderns” at the Canal Street location, on the third floor. By 1964, Gus Mayer operated three stores in the city. The venerable main store was at 800 Canal, corner Carondelet. They moved to that location from across the street in 1948. The old Pickwick Hotel building, built in 1895, came up for sale after World War II. Gus Mayer bought the property and demolished the building. They erected the building that is now the CVS Drugstore. So, the new location doubled the size of the original store.

Carrollton Shopping Center

Gus Mayer later expanded, sort-of following Maison Blanche’s strategy. MB opened two “suburban” stores in 1947, at Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues, and Frenchmen Avenue and Gentilly Blvd. Gus Mayer opened on the other side of the now-closed New Canal. When the city filled in the canal in 1949, the state built the “Pontchartrain Expressway.” The expressway originally began at Pontchartrain Blvd. near Lake Lawn Cemetery. It extended into downtown, connecting with the original bridge of the Crescent City Connection.

To get over the Illinois Central train tracks and S. Carrollton Avenue, the state built the “Carrollton Interchange,” visible in the rear of the shopping center photo. Developers constructed the shopping center on land now left unused because of the canal closure.

Carrollton grew in popularity as Metairie grew in population. Airline Highway (US 61) made it easy for suburban shoppers to get to S. Carrollton Avenue. A number of stores recognized this potential. JC Penney anchored Carrollton in the west. Smaller stores, such as Labiche’s, Mayfair, and Baker’s Shoes. The center included an A&G Cafeteria, Winn-Dixie supermarket, and a Western Auto store.

carrollton shopping center

Gus Mayer anchored the center on its eastern side. While not as large as the two-floor Penney’s, the women’s store stood off from the strip-mall design, with its own parking area.

Metairie Migration

Gus Mayer once again followed the lead of Maison Blanche in the 1970s. As Metairie development continued in the west, Clearview Shopping Center opened at Clearview Parkway and I-10. MB had already moved their Carrollton Store to Airline Village, further out. (The Carrollton store became a Budget Store.) The department store then moved to the new mall in Metairie. Gus Mayer picked up on that trend. They closed their Carrollton Store, moving to Clearview.

All of the Gus Mayer Stores in New Orleans closed in the 1990s. The company operates two stores in Birmingham, Alabama.




Streetcar vs Train 1912

Streetcar vs Train 1912

Streetcar vs Train never ends well.

streetcar vs train

Story in The Daily Picayune, 11-May-1912

Streetcar vs Train

Brief news article about a streetcar vs train accident in The Daily Picayune, 11-May-1912.

Passenger train No. 339, of the Illinois Central, crashed into the Royal Blue car at Washington Avenue, at 9 o’clock last night and knocked it into splinters. The car was dragged about 125 feet and part of it was on the front of the engine. The latter was derailed.

Howard Heldenfelder, of 136 S. Olympia, employed at the Krauss Store, was the only passenger in the streetcar. He sustained injuries about the chest and was badly shaken up. Jules Mainbaum, the motorman, was thrown from the platform, into a canal. He was fished out by the conductor, Thomas Burke. The motorman was injured about the head. He and Heldenfelder were taken to the hospital, where their injuries were found not very serious.

Interesting unpack here! A quick online search didn’t immediately turn up the route of IC train 339. It was either coming or going to Union Station, on Rampart Street. This was the “old” station, built in 1892. The city demolished it to make way for Union Passenger Terminal, in 1954.

A “Royal Blue car” ran on the Napoleon Avenue line. New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) operated streetcars in the city in 1912. The Napoleon line got the nickname “Royal Blue” because the roll board (the rolling sign indicating the streetcar’s route) was enclosed in blue glass. Since the streetcar was smashed into splinters, it likely was an all-wood Brill double-truck.

The motorman ended up in the New Basin Canal. This part of the canal is now part of the Palmetto canal system, that feeds into the 17th Street Canal and its pumping station near Metairie Road. Good thing the conductor could fish him out!

And then there’s the passenger, Mr. Heldenfelder. he lived at 136 S. Olympia. That’s across the street from St. Dominic School (now Christian Brothers School). To get to work at Krauss, he likely took the Canal line from Mid-City down to Basin Street.

What a fascinating writing prompt!