Bernadotte Street Yard in Mid-City #TrainThursday

Bernadotte Street Yard in Mid-City #TrainThursday

The Bernadotte Street Yard ran from Canal Blvd. to Jefferson Davis Parkway

Bernadotte Street Yard

Sanborn fire map from the 1940s, showing detail in Mid-City New Orleans. Full PDF here. 

Bernadotte Street Yard

Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the portion of Mid-City that ran from Jefferson Davis Parkway to City Park Avenue was much narrower than the neighborhood is today. On the western side, Mid-City extended to the New Canal. From there, the neighborhood ran west, crossing Banks, Canal, and Bienville Streets. Mid-City hit a dead end one block past Bienville. So, the Bernadotte Street railroad yard began at Conti Street, essentially cutting off Mid-City from Bayou St. John.

New Orleans Terminal Company

The New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) built a railroad link from Canal and Basin Streets. It ran through Faubourg Treme, then down St. Louis Street, out to Florida Avenue. So, this connected the company’s passenger terminal downtown with the “Back Belt” owned by Southern Railway. Southern moved their passenger operations from their station on Press Street to Canal Street in 1916. Therefore, NOTC made a solid investment.

Industrial Corridor

In addition to connecting Canal Street with the Southern Railway’s track, the NOTC link became the foundation for an industrial corridor. So, NOTC built a railroad yard at the Canal Blvd end of the link. Southern Railway leased the yard from NOTC. Southern referred to it as the “Bernadotte Street Yard.”

Engine Facility

The image above is part of a Sanborn fire map from the 1940s. It shows the American Can Company factory on the right, on Orleans Avenue.The map details the various warehouses and other industrial sites. The borders are Jefferson Davis Parkway to N. Carrollton Avenue, Bienville Street to Orleans Avenue. Additionally, this area included a Southern Railway engine facility. That facility had a turntable and roundhouse.

To be contnued…

The Bernadotte Street Yard is relevant to a number of my research interests. So, I’ve got a fiction project in my head that may play out on passenger trains. That means Terminal Station. The station’s proximity to Krauss Department Store is also significant. I regularly watch rail activity on the Back Belt, on Canal Blvd. The mouth of the yard is not far away. In other words, come back periodically for more on this area.

 

Screen Porch Houses harken back to before central a/c

Screen Porch Houses harken back to before central a/c

If you didn’t have air-condition or a lot of fans, you might have lived in screen porch houses growing up.

(cross-posted to Eloquent Profanity)

screen porch houses

House with a screen porch on Iberville Street in #NOLAMidCity

Screen porch houses

Before central air-conditioning became part of everyday home life, screen porch houses lined the blocks of New Orleans neighborhoods. Residents escaped the heat of summer by going outside. There were two problems with being directly outside, though. First, most folks avoided direct sunlight and sunburn. Second, the mosquitoes! So, homeowners screened in their front porches. Screens allowed the breeze in, but not the bugs. The offered protection from the sun. The wood floor gave the rocking chair a smooth surface.

Nothing to fans to a/c

It’s hard to remember a time before so many homes in New Orleans had air-conditioning. By 2011, 88% of homes in the United States were built with central a/c. Prior to the suburban expansions of the late 1960s/early 1970s, homes lacked a/c. While many were retro-fitted with wall units in bedrooms, living spaces often were not. Families believed you should go outside. Sit on the porch. Talk to the neighbors. Many a writer and literary critic supports the notion that central air conditioning dramatically changed the genre of “Southern Literature”, because people just didn’t socialize like they used to. They holed up inside and stayed cool.

There’s a lot of merit to this concept, In New Orleans, we sit outside for a few weeks in the Spring and the Fall. The rainy season (what the northern parts of the US call, “Winter”) just doesn’t accommodate outside activity. The humidity of the Summer and early Fall drain us.

New Orleans homes

Not everyone has a Spanish Colonial courtyard to retreat to on a hot day. Shotgun homes offer good airflow, but privacy concerns often outweigh the breeze running through the house. That leaves the backyard. Thing is, the backyard isolates the family from the neighborhood. Porch-sitting brings folks together.

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

NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019 Unpacking Bayou St. John

NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019 Unpacking Bayou St. John

NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019 – Unpacking Bayou St. John.

NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019

Aerial view of the city, with Bayou St. John in the foreground.

NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019

Elmer’s Candy Truck. Undated, likely 1950s.

Happy Easter! Happy Elmer’s Gold Brick Eggs. The Elmer’s truck is from Pop Evans’ fun group, New Orleans “Black” in the Day on Facebook. Elmer’s Gold Brick was more of a year-round candy. Now, the egg-shaped version is an Easter treat.

So, there’s a group on the Book of Face, “The New Orleans Culture.” I enjoy the people and the posts, and share a good bit there. This is in addition to sharing at Ain’t There No More. While I don’t like posting unattributed photos, I want to talk about this one. If you know the photographer, please let me know, so I can get proper permission! Before the photo unpack, we’ll do the best of “Today in New Orleans History” for this week.

The Greater New Orleans Bridge Opens

NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019

Construction progresses on the Greater New Orleans Bridge 1-February-1957 (photographer unknown)

The Greater New Orleans Bridge opened to vehicular traffic on 15-April-1958. The Mississippi River Bridge Authority took bids for a new bridge across the river in 1957. They accepted one in November of that year. By the next spring, the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson was no longer the only bridge crossing in the metro New Orleans Area. While the Huey had lanes for cars, its main role was as a railroad bridge. The GNO Bridge connected Algiers and Gretna residents with downtown New Orleans. The single-span bridge required “traffic controls” by the 1970s. MRBA police blocked traffic in the mornings at various choke points. They opened one route to the bridge at a time, in 10-15 minute intervals. This created a more-orderly flow in the mornings.

These traffic controls annoyed commuters. The state funded construction of a second span in 1984. The current incarnation of Da Bridge is named the Crescent City Connection.

Today in New Orleans History 15-April-2019

Unpacking the Bayou

We continue photo segments on NOLA History Guy Podcast 20-April-2019. Street-level photos of Bayou St. John inspire artists and writers alike. Bayou Bridge crosses at Esplanade Avenue. Magnolia Bridge (visible in this photo) crosses in front of Cabrini High School. While Magnolia appears to be a bridge to nowhere, the streetcar used to pass by on Moss Street. Therefore, folks could take the Esplanade line, get off at the bridge, and then walk across to homes in the City Park neighborhood.

Trees envelope Pitot House, on the left side of the bayou. Our Lady of the Rosary, on Esplanade Avenue, stands just outside the frame on the left. This photo shows the church’s backyard.

Down the Bayou

The second turn, on the other side of Magnolia bridge, offers a last bit of waterway. BSJ ends just out of frame on the right. The bayou leads the way to Parkway Bakery, on Hagan Street. The Faubourg St. John neighborhood flows from Esplanade, to Orleans Avenue (more or less) on the left side.

 

Last Week’s NOLA History Guy Podcast

NOLA History Guy Podcast 13-April-2019 M.A.R.T. and City Park Avenue

NOLA History Guy Podcast 13-April-2019 M.A.R.T. and City Park Avenue

NOLA History Guy Podcast 13-April-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 13-April-2019

Mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial stands by a M.A.R.T. “gondola,” 11-April-1985 (Morial papers, New Orleans Public Library)

NOLA History Guy Podcast 13-April-2019

Another short-form pod this week! Two items, “New Orleans Past” and unpacking a photo from 1951

M.A.R.T.

Our “New Orleans Past” item, from Catherine Campanella’s website, is her 11-April entry, which goes back to 11-April-1985. The Mississippi Aerial Rapid Transport, M.A.R.T. attraction at the 1984 New Orleans World Exposition attracted visitors and locals alike. Alas, it didn’t attract them in the numbers expected. But then, neither did the fair overall. As a rule, locals didn’t refer to the attraction as “MART”, but rather as “The Gondola”. The east bank station for MART was at Julia Street and the River, just to the east side of the main pavilion building. That building became the Morial Convention Center after Da Fair. The small cars ran across the river, landing next to Mardi Gras World. The theory (hope) of the Kerns was that folks would visit their year-round Mardi Gras attraction in Algiers before returning to the fair site.

This didn’t quite work out as planned. Folks rode MART like an amusement park ride rather than as transportation. Mardi Gras World figured out that the west bank location wasn’t good for attracting tourists, so they moved to the western side of the Convention Center. This was after the fiasco of riverboat casinos in that location.

The operators of MART hoped to continue the attraction as a transportation service, after the fair. While the concept was good, the gondolas weren’t in a good position for the nascent Warehouse District. MART was demolished in 1994. Some of the cars live on at various places around town, such as Poeyfarre Market.

City Park Avenue, 1951

NOLA History Guy Podcast 13-April-2019

City Park Avenue near the PontchartrainExpresway, 1951 (NOLA.com photo)

Unpacking an old photo. This is City Park Avenue in 1951. I found it on a Tumblr, attributed to NOLA.com. Not sure if it’s originally from the Times-Picayune or the State-Item. Also not sure who shot the photo. The streetcars made a left-turn onto City Park Avenue from Canal Street. The West End line continued from there out to the lake, on the eastern side of the New Basin Canal. The Canal line cars stopped on City Park Avenue. They changed for the inbound run there. The end terminal changed to Canal Street only in 1958.

 

Basin Street 1900 – Before Terminal Station #TrainThursday

Basin Street 1900 – Before Terminal Station #TrainThursday

Basin Street 1900 – Before Terminal Station on Canal Street

Basin Street 1900

View of the Storyville District, ca 1900.

Basin Street 1900

This postcard, published by C.B. Mason, shows the Storyville District, three to five years after it’s creation (legally). Here’s the note on the postcard:

“Bird’s-Eye View Of New Orleans LA. ”

View from high building on Canal Street looking towards “Storyville” district. Of particular interest is the row of buildings seen fronting Basin Street, including Tom Anderson’s Josie Arlington’s and Lulu White’s, and “the District” behind it. This is one of the few published cards showing what history recalls as “Storyville”.

There are a lot of shots of Storyville, the section of Faubourg Treme from Canal Street to the Carondelet Canal, but this one of Basin Street 1900 caught my eye for several reasons. The photographer stands on a building on Canal Street. It looks like he’s on the old Mercier Building, at 901 Canal. This was Maison Blanche, before S.J. Shwartz demolished it and built his larger store and office building. This photo shows the neighborhood just before Leon Fellman builds the 2-story retail building at 1201 Canal Street. That building becomes Krauss Department Store.

Trains before 1908

Basin Street 1900

1896 Sanborn Map, Canal and Basin Streets

Trains didn’t travel much on Basin Street 1900. The big passenger terminal opens in 1908. The first two blocks off Canal, Basin to Customhouse (now Iberville), then to Bienville, supported the excursion train to Spanish Fort. So, this 1896 Sanborn map shows the tracks and small station for that Spanish Fort train. Passengers boarded at Canal, then the tracks turned lakebound on Bienville. Note the buildings in the 1201 block of Canal. The Krauss building isn’t there yet. Furthermore, it was a lot quieter at this time, without the trains.

“Down the Line”

Basin Street 1900

Zoom of the CB Mason Postcard of Storyville, 1900ish

This zoom of the postcard shows the same area of the well-known, “Basin Street Down the Line” photo. Two horse-drawn carriages or wagons head riverbound on Custom House. First of all, that’s Tom Anderson’s Saloon behind them, on the corner. Then, in the middle of the street, there’s a passenger stand and shed, for the railroad. So, the tracks are visible.

A few doors down from Tom Anderson’s, Josie Arlington’s “sporting palace” with its distinctive cupola welcomes customers.

After 1908

Basin Street 1900

1911 view of Canal and Basin Streets

This 1911 postcard shows the changes within a decade. Krauss Department Store stands at 1201. So, Terminal Station swallows up Basin street for blocks. The New Orleans and North Eastern (NO&NE) Railroad moved over from Press Street in the Bywater to Canal Street. NO&NE became part of the Southern Railway system in 1916. As a result of the merger, the station’s main sign changed to reflect the merger.