Royal Street – Louisville and Nashville observation car #TrainThursday

Royal Street

(cross-posted to Pontchartrain RR)

royal street

L&N “Royal Street” observation car.

Royal Street

I caught the Louisville and Nashville observation car, Royal Street, out at the KCS yard in Metairie, LA, yesterday. This corrugated observation car was one of eight built by Pullman Standard and delivered in February-Marcy, 1950. Four of the cars ran on Southern Railway’s Royal Palm, and two were delivered to L&N. They ran on the Crescent and other L&N name trains.

Royal Street was part of an upgrade of the Crescent in 1950. In 1950, the train, which was operated for the most part by Southern Railway, traveled from New York to Washington, DC, on the Pensylvania RR. In DC, it took Southern’s tracks to Atlanta. From Atlanta, on the Atlanta and West Point RR, to West Point, GA. From West Point to Montgomery, AL, on the Western Railway. The Crescent ran on L&N tracks from Montgomery into New Orleans.

New Orleans

Royal Street

L&N Station, New Orleans

Since the Crescent used L&N tracks to come into New Orleans, it arrived and departed from the L&N station at Canal Street and the river. Other Southern trains, including the Southerner, the other New Orleans to NYC train, arrived and departed from Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets. After 1954, The Southerner and the Crescent both moved to Union Passenger Terminal, as the Canal Street stations were demolished.

Amtrak

Southern continued to operate the Crescent until 1974, when it turned the route over to Amtrak. So, the Amtrak Crescent continues daily service. Train #20 departs in the morning from New Orleans (NOL), and #19 from Penn Station (NYP) in New York.

Modeling Royal Street

royal street

Will this kit become “Royal Street”?

While the N-Scale Pontchartrain RR plans to model Royal Street, we haven’t found the right kit just yet. We also plan to model the New York Central’s Bonnie Brook car. It is often at the KCS yard. This kit doesn’t match either prototype, so we’re looking for a closer match. This particular kit might become a Pontchartrain RR-liver car.

Carrollton Station – NOPSI 813, 1948

Carrollton Station – NOPSI 813, 1948

Carrollton Station

Carrollton Station in 1948

New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) streetcar 813, on the ladder tracks on Jeanette Street, behind Carrollton Station. Streetcars based uptown returned to the barn by turning onto Jeanette Street from S. Carrollton Ave. They approached the barn, then turned in on one of the “ladder tracks”. Those are the tracks you see in the foreground.

Over the years, NOPSI operated several streetcar stations. By 1948, the Arabella Station on Magazine Street focused on “trackless trolleys”, or “trolley buses”. The streetcars were stored and serviced at Carrollton Station.

NOPSI 813

NOPSI 813 was a steel, arch roof streetcar. The transit company acquired the 800- and 900-series arch roofs in 1923-1924. The designer was Perley A. Thomas. Thomas worked for the Southern Car Company of High Point, North Carolina, when he created the arch roof design. New Orleans Railway and Light Company, the forerunner to NOPSI, bought arch roofs from Southern from 1910-1915. They became the 400-series streetcars.

The roll board on NOPSI 813 in this photo indicates it operated on the Tulane Belt on this day.

Southern Car Company folded in 1916. So, Thomas started his own company in the wake of the closure. He refined the design and NOPSI placed an large order in 1923. Thomas subcontracted some of the construction to other companies. The arch roof streetcars roll along the St. Charles Avenue line to this day.

800s and 900s

While the arch roofs were similar, the main visible difference between the 800 and 900 series streetcars was the doors. On the 800s, the doors were manual. The motorman (front) and conductor (rear) had to manually operate the doors, like a school bus driver, with a big mechanical handle. On the 900 series streetcars, the doors were powered, so the motorman could just hit a switch.

In 1964, when NOPSI discontinued the Canal Street line, the company kept 35 of the green arch roof streetcars. They were all from the 900 series. A few of the 800s were sold to private concerns like trolley museums, but most were cut in half and destroyed.

 

Dixie Brewery – Art by Jane Brewster

Dixie Brewery Art

dixie brewery art

Jane Brewster’s Dixie Brewery

Dixie Brewery Art

I had the pleasure of giving a talk at a private event last night, Uptown. It’s becoming an ongoing thing, and they’re lots of fun. These talks give me a chance to introduce my books and speaking to others. I also get the opportunity to introduce other creatives to new people.

Tulane Avenue

Last night’s topic was Tulane Avenue. This particular street in New Orleans has had its ups and downs over the decades. We started with the Robinson Atlas map of the 1st District in 1881. Tulane Avenue didn’t even exist at that time. It was Common Street, all the way up to Claiborne Avenue.

So, the talk went through various stages in Tulane Avenue’s history, from the 1920s, through the 1930s and WWII, While we talked about “Riding The Belt“, the main section of the conversation was about the 1950s. That’s when Tulane Avenue became the “Miracle Mile”.

Jane Brewster’s Dixie Brewery

One of the fixtures in so many photos of Tulane Avenue is Dixie Brewery, at 2401 Tulane (corner S. Rocheblave). The brewery was founded in 1907. The location was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and is no longer used by the company.

I was looking around online for a good, older photo of the brewery to include in the talk. When I did a basic images search, one of the hits back was of Jane Brewster’s painting of the building. Jane is a New Orleans artist who captures the heart and soul of the city. I wanted to share this painting with you, and encourage you to check out the rest of Jane’s work.

Lakeview Theater

dixie brewery art

Jane Brewster’s Lakeview Theater

Mike Scott of NOLA dot com did an article last week on “lost movie theaters” that offered up photos from Da Paper’s archives on a number of places that are ATNM. When I shared it on the NOLA History Guy Facebook Page, folks mentioned a bunch of long-gone theaters that weren’t listed in the article. One of those was Lakeview Theater, which was on Harrison Avenue. I remember Lakeview Theater because it’s where my parents took us to see “Gone with the Wind” back in the 1960s. When I was looking on Jane’s website for the Dixie painting, I came across a her painting of the theater. I remember the building vividly, from all the drives we took from Metairie, out to my grandma’s house in Gentilly.

MB Memories – Escalators on Canal Street

MB Memories – Escalators on Canal Street

MB Memories – Escalators on Canal Street

MB Memories Escalators

Escalators at Maison Blanche on Canal Street

MB Memories – Escalators on Canal Street

While Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store was the first department store on Canal Street to install an escalator, MB wasn’t far behind. MB Memories for me include a lot of up and down on those escalators.

Early Escalators

Krauss added an escalator from the ground (first) floor to the “Mezzanine” in 1927. Not to be outdone, Maison Blanche acquired an escalator system a year later. Those first escalators were “up-only” systems. They were meant to get shoppers upstairs quickly. Getting down was another story. The store wasn’t all that motivated to get folks out of the store. So, initially, the paths back down to the first floor included stairs (from the second floor), and the elevators.

Eventually, MB expanded the escalators to all five floors. The elevators were towards the rear of all the stores. The open architecture of escalators made them attractive to customer and retailer alike.

Maison Blanche in the 1950s

This Franck Studios photo is from the early 1950s. The post-war boom was in full swing. Returning vets finished their educations. They moved out of mom and dad’s house, to Gentilly and Lakeview. Really adventurous folks headed to the suburbs, Metairie and Chalmette. Maison Blanche recognized this, opening stores in Mid-City and Gentilly in 1948. The Airline store wasn’t far behind.

Throughout all that expansion, Canal Street anchored the chain. The five-story store continued drawing shoppers from all over the city. Buses replaced streetcars on many transit lines, but that didn’t stop the shoppers. They still came to Canal Street.

Many older shoppers didn’t trust escalators. They didn’t like stairs, so they continued to use the elevators. MB’s elevators had human operators for years. Automatic, push-the-button service, was considered bad treatment of customers. Cheerful smiles encouraged buyers to buy!

Finding photos in unlikely places

Finding photos in unlikely places

Finding photos in unlikely places

(this article is cross-posted from ArcadiaCoach.com)

finding photos

Carver House Terrace Restaurant at Lincoln Beach, New Orleans, 1956 (courtesy NOLA.com)

Finding photos in unlikely places – it’s fun!

Checking our Facebook group, “Ain’t There No More” (the title is an homage to a popular New Orleans song) this morning, I saw Todd Price of NOLA.com posted another of his “lost restaurant” articles. Todd’s one of the food-and-drink writers for the Times-Picayune newspaper. You’ll see me refer to the T-P as “Da Paper” occasionally. Da Paper has an extensive photo database. Todd makes wonderful use of it. Not really sure how he gets his job done, some days. One day, I’ll get Da Paper to hire me in some capacity. Then, access to all those images and articles is mine! 🙂

Most of Todd’s old restaurant photos engage readers, However, today’s article had a neat find. The photo up top is Carver House Terrace Restaurant. This was the “nice” place at Lincoln Beach, the old Jim Crow amusement park. Here’s Todd’s caption:

CARVER HOUSE TERRACE
The restaurant was part of Lincoln Beach, the lakefront amusement for black New Orleanians. When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the previously whites-only amusement park Pontchartrain Beach was integrated. Lincoln Beach closed that same year. (1956 photo)

This is a particularly nice find, because it’s hard to come up with good photos of Lincoln Beach. Since it was the segregated park. Therefore, you didn’t have photo-bug white folks with disposable income walking around, like one would see at Pontchartrain Beach, the whites-only amusement park. Newspaper reporters didn’t go out there as much for slice-of-life segments, or people-having-fun stories. Most of the photos that are easily viewed are from after it closed, or of musicians and other entertainment acts that played to the African-American audience.

Be creative when you search

That doesn’t mean photos of Lincoln Beach don’t exist. It’s a question of refining search fields and digging in the right offline collections. In this case, Todd found Carver House in Da Paper’s restaurant files. It’s likely that the photo wasn’t tagged with a keyword for the park.

Jim Crow-era research is problematic in general, because so many of the “separate but equal” facilities were anything but. So, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law, those facilities were rendered redundant. White-only facilities were far better, so black folks integrated into those. The other big problem is that Jim Crow-style segregation was outlawed 53 years ago. This photo of Carver House is from 1956. It’s over 60 years old. While archivists will save everything they get their hands on, government agencies were quick to box up segregation and put it on the shelf. Sometimes the “shelf” was the dumpster out back.

Finding photos on African-American subjects

Researching Jim Crow-era subjects? Your best bet for finding photos is family photo collections. Maybe grandpa and grandma saw Fats Domino out there. Possibly they ate at Carver House. So, ask around. Somebody’s got a box of old photos in the attic.

Go dig around!

Maison Blanche Department Stores
by Edward J. Branley

mb book

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.

Canal Street Christmas Parade 1953

Canal Street Christmas Parade 1953

Canal Street Christmas Parade

Canal Street Christmas Parade

Ford Cars parade up Canal Street, Christmastime, 1953 (Franck photo)

Canal Street Christmas Parade in 1953

New-model Fords parade up Canal Street, Christmastime, 1953. We’ve had numerous versions of the Canal Street Christmas parade over the decades. Commercial parades such as this don’t happen like they used to, mainly because permit costs have risen dramatically. The modern non-Carnival parade in New Orleans is the “wedding second line” we see almost daily in the Spring and Fall. This is where a just-married couple stops their motorcade three or four blocks from their reception venue, then have a second line parade from there to the hotel/restaurant. It’s good fun and easy money for the bands, even if everyone else complains about stopped traffic in the Quarter.

Canal Street in 1953

Lots of interesting stuff going on in this photo. This is the first-generation “Big Bingle” on Maison Blanche’s flagship store. Mister Bingle is only six years old at this point. This is why he’s teamed up with Santa Claus. As Bingle got older, locals pushed Santa aside. For the first few years of Mr. Bingle (Emile Alline of MB created him in 1947), he was a drawing in advertisements. Then the Bingle puppets appeared. Oscar Isentrout pulled the strings on the puppet.

Lights cover the front of the MB building, all around Santa and Mr. Bingle. Those lights disappeared in the 1960s. The store introduced decorations along the front of the store at that time. There are no front windows on the second floor of the store. Christmas decorations adorned those big front panels.

WSMB

Canal Street Christmas Parade

Detail of WSMB sign

Another interesting item in this photo is the WSMB sign. I’ve got a bunch of MB photos, and this is the first time I’ve noticed this sign. My MB book includes a wide shot of Santa and Mr. Bingle from this time. The WSMB sign is right in front of the “Office Building” entrance. That entrance stood at the lake-side end of the building. It opened into a lobby with elevators that took folks up to the office floors above the five floors of retail space. The radio station was on the thirteenth floor. When the elevator doors opened, visitors looked into a big glass window, into the studio. This ground-floor entrance is the main entrance of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Fords

I’m awful at identifying automobiles, so if you can spot the types of cars in the parade, please do in comments!

Maison Blanche Department Stores
by Edward J. Branley

mb book

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.