Desire Buses begin on 30-May-1948.
New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) converted their Desire line from streetcars to buses over Memorial Day Weekend in 1948. This flyer, distributed on transit lines across the city, explained the change. Streetcars ran until Saturday evening on 29-May. On Sunday morning, 30-May, White Company buses rolled out of Canal Station, taking over on Desire.
NOPSI moved quickly to remove streetcar tracks on the Desire line. So, they wanted the ride along the line to be smooth. Removing the tracks and re-blacktopping the street helped. From the brochure:
Street car tracks below Almonaster will be removed and the streets over which the buses are to travel will be resurfaced. During the progress of the track removal and re-paving, short temporary detours from the permanent route will be necessary. Signs at regular stops will direct passengers to the nearest temporary stop.
NOPSI implemented this plan for several reasons. First, streetcar tracks made for a bumpy ride for automobiles. To generate buy-in for buses, the company, along with the city, gave folks a smoother car trip. Sentimental feelings for the “Streetcar Named Desire” vanished quickly. Once the tracks were gone, the streetcars were quickly forgotten.
NOPSI and City Hall tore up streetcar tracks quickly on other converted lines. When the company converted the Magazine line to trackless trolleys, they left the overhead wire. Since the electric buses didn’t require tracks, up they came. Now, the blocks on Camp street the line traveled got that smooth-ride treatment. It also didn’t hurt that nobody really missed streetcars on Magazine.
NOPSI planned to convert a number of lines in the late 1930s. The outbreak of World War II delayed those plans. The War Department, along with other agencies supporting the war effort, denied the companies requests. Streetcars operated using electricity. They ran on existing steel rails. Buses required rubber tires and gasoline. The War Department needed those two resources more than public transit. So, streetcars remained throughout the war. As part of the peacetime economy transitions, the government approved the bus conversions.
West End Streetcar line ran until 1950.
West End Streetcar
NOPSI 933, running on the West End Streetcar line. Undated photo, between 1948 and 1950. This is the end of the line, out by Lake Pontchartrain. The streetcar ran from the the river, up Canal Street, turning left (West) on City Park Avenue, then turning right (North), following the New Canal to the lakefront.
The New Orleans City Railroad Company opened the West End line in April, 1876. It originally ran from the Halfway House, on City Park Avenue, out to the lake. So, if you wanted to get out to West End, you took the Canal Street line to the end, then the West End line. Two months later, in June, 1876, service was extended to Carondelet and Canal Street.
Service for the first twenty-two years of operation was via steam locomotive. A steam engine was made to look like a tram, a streetcar. The line was electrified in 1898, three years after the Canal Line.
Out to the lake
The West End line’s peak was in the 1920s. NOPSI operated the American Car Company’s “Palace” cars on the Canal/Esplanade Belt, along with West End. During the Spring/Summer seasons, The Palace cars pulled unpowered Coleman trailers. So, small trains of two to four cars went out to the lake.
Streetcars and canals
The West End line ran next to the New Canal, for all but the last year of its operation. While the main street connecting Mid-City to West End was Pontchartrain Boulevard, on the West side of the canal, the streetcar ran along West End Boulevard, on the East side of the canal. Confusing? Welcome to New Orleans. The streetcar tracks didn’t cross the canal. The line ran up to the lake, just past Robert E. Lee (now Allen Toussaint) Bouelevard. The West End line connected with the Spanish Fort Shuttle line, after the direct-from-downtown Spanish Fort line was closed in 1911.
The lakefront changed dramatically after 1940. The Orleans Parish Levee District reclaimed a massive amount of land and built the seawall in the 1920s and 1930s. By 1940, the US Army and Navy built hospitals in what are now the East and West Lakeshore subdivisions. The West End streetcar shifted from excursion service to commuter operation after 1940. NOPSI converted the line to buses in 1950.
This photo is courtesy H. George Friedman’s collection.
Ad snapshot 23-April focuses on 23-April-1946 and 1947.
Ad snapshot 23-April
I love posting ads that are twenty-plus years old. Every day offers new thoughts. While the advertisers are quite predictable, the ads themselves provide perspective on the day, the time, and the store.
I found a number of ads this morning, more than I want to tweet out to the world. Here’s some for my wonderful patrons.
Ad in the Times-Picayune, 23-April-1946 for Maison Blanche Department Store (top). The store touts infant/toddler items in their “Young New Orleans Center.” I take away three things in particular about this ad. First, that wicker wardrobe is an item seen in so many New Orleans homes. Those things persevered into the 1960s and 1970s. Second, christening gowns. Maison Blanche sold those in 1946. It’s quite possible that a family considers that gown an heirloom now. Maw-maw wore it!
The MB art department created a stunning mom! That hat! Families gather for christenings to this day, but the fashions changed. Mom went formal in 1946.
Maison Blanche artists drew the store’s name in many different ways in the 1940s. The formal logos appear later. Additionally, MB sells to customers only from Canal Street. The “suburban” stores (Carrollton and Gentilly) appear the following year.
Ad for Hunter Fine Blended Whiskey, 23-April-1946. The Hunter-Wilson Distillery Company produced this blend. They operated in Louisville, Kentucky. While Bourbon stands as the most popular Kentucky whiskey, a number of distillers created blended styles.
This ad originated from the distillery itself, rather than from a local retailer. Many retailers shied away from favoring one brand of booze. So, distilleries placed their own ads. They often said, “available at your favorite store.” The distillery’s marketing department placed the ad on page two or page three of section one. Literally the second or third page of the newspaper meant higher ad prices. This helped reach the men, skimming the headlines and top news.
More to come!
The Bagur Southern Souvenir Company produced postcards of New Orleans.
Bagur Southern Souvenir
“Greetings from New Orleans” postcard, published by the Dexter Press company, of Pearl River, NY. Bagur Southern Souvenir Company sold a wide range of products. They hold the rights to the “Aunt Sally” logo for “Creole Pralines.”
Curt Teich created this style of postcard. His company produced hundreds of “Greetings postcards.”
Greetings from New Orleans
Curt Teich, a German, immigrated to the United States in 1895. He opened a print shop in 1899. Teich produced linen postcards. Beginning in 1931, Teich produced a line of color postcards saying, “Greetings From…” He published postcards featuring hundreds of locations across the United States.
Businesses selling souvenirs snapped up Teich’s postcards. Travelers purchased the postcards to document family trips. The postcards continued in popularity until the Interstate Highway System dominated auto travel in the 1950s. Interstate highways bypassed the small towns and shops that sold Teich’s Cards. Stops consisted of gas stations and restaurants immediately off of the highway, rather than passing through towns.
Curt Teich passed away in 1974. He was 96. The family donated their collection of postcards to the Lake County Discovery Museum in Libertyville, Illinois. The museum transferred the collection to the Newberry Library in Chicago. The collection at The Newberry consists of over 500,000 unique postcard designs. This postcard came to the Newberry from the Bagur shop in the French Market.
Pralines and Souvenirs
The Bagur family began their candy business in the 1910s. They added pralines to the product line in the 1930s. The business moved into the French Market at that time. The Aunt Sally’s shop operates there to this day. So, Bagur Southern owns the shop, presenting the iconic figure out front.
It comes as no surprise that a candy shop in the French Market sold souvenirs. While postcard sales aren’t what they used to be, Teich’s New Orleans postcard no doubt did well at Aunt Sally’s.
Department store ads over generations are fun.
Department Store Ads
Ads for Godchaux’s Department Store. The first appeared in the Loyola Maroon in 1929. The second demonstrated the store’s sort for the New Orleans Opera Guild. It appeared in the program for “Romeo and Juliet” in 1947.
Godchaux’s on Canal
Yesterday, local author (and someone I’m proud to call friend) Derby Gisclair shared a photo of the Macheca Building at 828 Canal Street (next to the Boston Club). This building was the second Canal Street home of Godchaux’s Department Store. The store moved from 501 to 828 Canal after World War II.
So, the 1929 ad lured shoppers to the 501 Canal Street location. This building housed offices for several of Leon Godchaux’s business interests. Those included his sugar cane farms and processing plants. The family opened a retail store in 1840. The lower floors of the building housed the store. Marriott acquired the 501 block and demolished the building in the early 1970s. The block now features the chain’s hi-rise hotel.
Down the block
As the 501 Canal building aged, the store sought out a new location. The building at 828 Canal served downtown as commercial office space. After World War II, Godchaux’s bought the building. They renovated the interior and moved the store in 1947. Godchaux’s remained at the location until the chain closed the downtown store in the 1980s. After that, the Lakeside store assumed the mantle of flagship location.
The Maroon ad from 6-December-1929 promotes the “Established English University styles” of Charter Suits. Manufacturers paid for these “co-op” ads. The ad sold a particular brand, with mention of the local store carrying it. The Maroon regularly presented department store ads to the students.
The 1947 Opera Guild ad for Godchaux’s features their hats. Ladies attending the opera required the right hat. The Millinery Department on the store’s sixth floor enticed opera-goers with a charming hat selection.
The Southern Belle Observation Car ended a classic streamlined train.
KCS Southern Belle Train
Postcard showing the observation car on the Southern Belle, the premier train of the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The Southern Belle train ran from Kansas City to New Orleans, stopping in Joplin, Texarkana, Shreveport, Alexandria, and Baton Rouge. KCS inaugurated the route on 2-September-1940. Pullman-Standard delivered three new trainsets to KCS for the Southern Belle in 1940.
Southern Belle Observation Car
Railroads promoted the last car in a passenger train consist as “observation.” Early observation cars offered riders an open rear platform. On a nice day or evening, the platform afforded passengers views of the countryside.
The Southern Belle Observation Car was enclosed. The “streamlined” trainsets often ran at higher speeds than older trains. So, the railroads provided a lot of windows in the last car.
Many of these tail-end cars provided dining and/or bar service to passengers. While they were open to all riders, coach class travelers usually passed. The prices in the bar discouraged those on a budget. Those traveling in sleeper accommodations used the observation and club cars to get out of the private compartments. Have a drink in the lounge and enjoy the scenery! Additionally, this gave porters the time to convert the compartments from day use to sleeper configurations.
Changes to 1940 equipment
KCS modified the consist of the Southern Belle after World War II. The railroad rebuilt many of the 1940-vintage Pullman-Standard cars. They ordered new trainsets for the route from American Car & Foundary (ACF) in 1948. The railroad placed those cars into service, April 3, 1949. This observation car dates to that roll-out.
Here’s the caption of the postcard:
On the new SOUTHERN BELLE — in the Tavern-Lounge-Observation car a Western Electric Program Distribution System sends Radio and Wire-Recorded music throughout the train. Cars by American Car & Foundry Co.
The caption indicates that the postcard likely was printed by Western Electric rather than Kansas City Southern.