Falling Concrete 1958

Falling Concrete 1958

It’s not just contemporary–falling concrete was a problem in 1958.

Falling concrete - incident at the Maritime Building in 1958.

Falling concrete in the CBD

A story on the front page of the Times-Picayune on 26-January-1958 has contemporary ring to it. “Falling Concrete Nearly Hits Pedestrian, 2 in Auto.” The location was the Maritime Building, at 800 Common (corner Carondelet). While the outcome is similar to the falling concrete at the Plaza Tower building in recent years, this incident appeared to be a one-off. The building, which is still there, opened in 1895. The concrete originated from a cornice on the eighth floor corner. Like the modern incidents, NOPD blocked the corner off until it was determined to be safe for autos and pedestrians.

The incident

falling concrete - page one of the Times-Picayune, 26-January-1958.

Page one of the Times-Picayune, 26-January-1958.

The article details what happened:

A large piece of concrete fell from the eighth floor balcony of the Maritime Building Saturday about 10 a. m., barely missing a male pedestrian and a woman motorist and her two-year-old son.

The cornice-work fell from the extreme corner of the balcony and struck a neon sign, only one in that block on that side of the street. breaking the concrete into several smaller pieces.

The story goes on to say how those smaller pieces hit an automobile. A pedestrian, one Oscar D. Larre, who lived in Lakeview.

Police response

Similar to the various incidents at the Plaza Tower, NOPD’s repsonse was to block things off:

Police at the scene blocked all traffic between Carondelet and Baronne and were diverting pedestrians to the downtown side of the streets in the possibility of more falling concrete.

So, further investigation by NOFD and others was inconclusive. While they couldn’t say if more concrete would fall from the building, the police re-opened the street and things returned to normal. Turns out this was indeed an isolated incident.

The Hennen Building

falling concrete - The Hennen Building, article in the Semi-Weekly Times-Democrat, 1-September 1895.

The Hennen Building, article in the Semi-Weekly Times-Democrat, 1-September 1895.

The Martime Building opened as the Hennen Building in 1895. It is a “Chicago style” skyscraper. The building claimed the title of tallest building in New Orleans from its opening until 1904. The Morris Land and Improvement Association constructed the Hennen Building. The association took its name from John A. Morris. They named the building for Mrs. Morris’ father, Mr. Alfred Hennen. The firm of renown New Orleans architect Thomas Sully (designer of the Maison Blanche Building) designed the Hennen Building. The building stands eleven stories high.

The Hennen Building opened with “225 offices, renting from $15 to $35 each.” It housed a wide variety of tenants. New ownership converted it into condos in 2010. It was sold again in 2020, and is now a timeshare facility, the Holiday Inn Club Vacations New Orleans Resort.

Rabbit hole!

My morning started off with me looking for ads from this date (26-January), to share on social media. The process is very scientific–I wake up and follow my nose. I did 25-January-1959 yesterday, so I decided to stay in the 1950s today, with 1958. With the hot mess that is the Plaza Tower, well, here we go. That’s the fun part of this gig!

Tip of the hat – to New Orleans Architecture Tours – a google search of the Hennen Building produced a link to the Times-Democrat article from 1895. That was my jumping-off point to go look at the original article. Thanks!

 

Gates of Prayer Cemetery 1999

Gates of Prayer Cemetery 1999

Chevra Thilim Cemetery (Gates of Prayer) stands at 4824 Canal Street, near City Park Avenue.

gates of prayer cemetery, 4820 canal street, new orleans

Gates of Prayer Cemetery, also known as Chevra Thilim

1999 image of the “Jewish Cemetery” at 4824 Canal Street. The building in the background is the Botinelli Building. The spires on top originally stood on top of the old Temple Sinai building on Carondelet Street. In 1977, the congregation decided to move uptown, they demolished their synagogue. Theodore Botinelli built an office/apartment building behind his family’s home. He salvaged the spires and put them on top of his new building.

The cemetery

Botinelli’s building overlooks the Jewish Cemetery, which was founded in 1858. Gates of Prayer has a detailed history of the cemetery, which has a fascinating story:

The Gates of Prayer cemetery at 4824 Canal Street has been called many names since it was founded in 1858 [1]. It’s been called many names, in part because it has never been a single cemetery. Instead, it has been owned by and used by five different local congregations/organizations who have buried their members there over its lengthy history. Today, the cemetery is owned by Congregation Gates of Prayer, Chevra Thilim Cemetery Corporation, and Congregation Beth Israel.

So, as you walk up Canal Street from, say, St. Dominic Church at S. St. Patrick Street, you first encounter the old McMahon Funeral Home, 4800 Canal Street (cor S. Bernadotte). That building is now “The Mortuary,” a haunted house.

Botinelli Place

Theodore Botinelli’s father was an Italian-born artist and sculptor. The family lived in a house on St. Anthony Street, between the Jewish Cemetery and St. Patrick Number One. His mother opened a flower shop on the corner. Botinelli acquired more property on St. Anthony Street. He eventually built a three-story building at the end of the dead-end street. With the distinctive spires installed on top, people took notice. Theodore pitched the City Council to change the name of that dead-end block of St. Anthony to Botinelli Place.

The photo

This photo, dated 1999, is from the Louisiana Film Commission collection at the State Library of Louisiana. The photographer is unidentified.

 

NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows

NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows

NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows on Twelfth Night.

NORTA 922, a vintage arch roof streetcar, serves as transportation for the Phunny Phorty Phellows on Twelfth Night, 2023.

NORTA 922 and the Phunny Phorty Phellows, Twelfth Night, 2023. Kerri Becker photo.

Seeing NORTA 922 carrying the Phunny Phorty Phellows is a treat.

The Phunny Phorty Phellows (PPP) announce the arrival of the Carnival season. While there are other organizations parading on Twelfth Night, PPP are the senior members of the cohort. We’ve written a bit about PPP here, but the star of this post isn’t the krewe. It’s the streetcar! NORTA 922 is one of the remaining vintage 1923-24 arch roof streetcars designed by Perley A. Thomas. They dominated the New Orleans transit landscape from their debut to the conversion of the Canal Street line to buses in 1964. There are 35 remaining 900-series cars.

A streetcar numbered 922

While any of the “green streetcars” is more than capable of transporting PPP on their run, NORTA 922 adds a bit of flair to the proceedings. It’s the streetcar from the streetcar movie. The film adaptation of Tennesee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire required a streetcar. The rail department of New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) chose car 922 to be the streetcar. The movie opens with it, and the rest is, well, less history and more legend.

Imposter, Desired

So, NORTA 922 was a movie star. By the 1970s, however, an imposter took credit for 922’s starring role! NOPSI 453, a wood-frame Brill streetcar, received the appelation, “Streetcar Named Desire.” This streetcar functioned for decades as the “training car.” NOPSI installed it at their facility on Tchoupitoulas Street and Napoleon Avenue. They rigged the operator’s console with the same equipment as the 900-series. New-hire motormen (and the “motorettes” during WWII) trained on 453. It was set up to rock and bump. Senior motormen taught the new folks.

As streetcar service in New Orleans dwindled, so did the training needs. NOPSI 453 stood idle. The story of how this streetcar became identified with the movie is fascinating. I invite you to go read this article by Earl W. Hampton, Jr. and H. George Friedman, Jr., for details and lots of photos.

922 back at work

In the meantime, NOPSI 922 went back to work on the St. Charles line. It’s done its duty well, coming up on a century of service. One of those duties is charter rides, like the PPP. On Twelfth Night, the news folks and photographers head to Carrollton Station to see off the year’s designated driver. They file their stories and go home, as the streetcar rolls the krewe down S. Carrollton Avenue, turning onto St. Charles Avenue. They announce the start of Carnival along St. Charles. When the streetcar reaches Tivoli Circle, the streetcar circles around. It becomes an outbound car, returning to the barn.

Streetcar identification

On a side note, streetcar 922 started live as NOPSI 922, and was designated as such from when it first rolled out of the barn. In 1983, NOPSI transferred its transit division to a new entity. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority assumed control of the city’s transit routes and assets. So, those 35 green streetcars switched to the new notation.

Happy Carnival!

1943 Willys MB Jeep at the National WWII Museum

1943 Willys MB Jeep at the National WWII Museum

A 1943 Willys MB jeep at the National World War II Museum has a 75mm recoilless rifle.

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle. Edward Branley photo.

The Freedom Pavillion

On our recent trip to the National World War II Museum, we walked through The United States Freedom Pavillion. My firstborn, LT Branley, USN (Ret), wanted to see the various airplanes hanging above us. As we walked in, something else caught my eye, a jeep. Jeeps are pretty common, but this particular one caught my eye. It has a rocket launcher mounted in the back seat. The configuration reminded me of the old television show, “The Rat Patrol.” In the show, set during the North Africa campaign, the jeeps the “patrol” used had machine guns mounted in the back seats. I always thought this was a Hollywood thing. That’s why my eyes turned when I saw this rocket mounted on a jeep.

1943 Willys MB Jeep

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle

1943 Willys MB with 75mm recoilless rifle. Edward Branley photo.

While “The Rat Patrol” was fiction (it was based on a British SAS unit in North Africa), the Willys MB is authentic. Here’s the Museum’s description of the jeep:

Finally, a 1943 Willys MB is on exhibit in The United States Freedom Pavilion, The Boeing Center. This jeep, like other vehicles in the pavilion, runs; and it is moved on a regular basis to accommodate Museum events. This jeep is marked to represent the 155th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion with the 17th Airborne Division during Operation Varsity. This unit received two 75mm recoilless rifles for use in that operation. This type of weapon was just being deployed at the end of the war and proved very useful in anti-tank operations. In addition to the recoilless rifle, the jeep features a wire cutter commonly found in the European theater and a limited collection of other accessories. The jeep has appropriate unit markings. The W number is painted in white, as is typically observed after a vehicle has spent time with a unit.

(from the article, “Shop Talk: Three Jeeps” on the museum’s website)

So, the MB jeep sports a 75mm recoilless rifle. In addition to the memories of the television show, the tube-like gun on the back reminded me of the Cold War board wargames we played in the 1980s. A common weapons system of that time was the BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) missile. It was interesting to see the evolution of vehicular weapons systems.

North Africa

1942 Ford GPW in the North Africa Exhibit. Courtesy of The National WWII Museum.

1942 Ford GPW in the North Africa Exhibit. Thomas Czekanski photo, Courtesy of The National WWII Museum.

In the North Africa exhibit of the Road to Berlin Gallery, another jeep caught my eye. The display contains a 1942 Ford GPW painted and weathered to look like it had been at Kasserine Pass. Back when I taught American History at Redeemer High School in Gentilly, I used to show the movie, “The Big Red One.” That movie features the battle at the pass. What impressed me about this jeep was the weathering. This jeep’s weathering includes mud spatters as if it traveled a lot of desert miles. No machine gun mounted in the back, just a hard-working vehicle. The National WWII Museum are masters in creating the “immersive experience.”

Sugar Bowl Dining 1956

Sugar Bowl Dining 1956

Sugar Bowl dining options were extensive in 1956

NOPSI ad, 31-Dec-1956

Ride the bus or streetcar to the game, come back to the French Quarter for fine dining.

Enjoying Sugar Bowl Dining

With fans from Baylor University and the University of Tennessee in town for the Sugar Bowl game on New Year’s Day, even the established, “old line” restaurants took out ads in the Times-Picayune.

Brennan’s

Brennan's, 31-Dec-1956

Beakfast at Brenna’s, all day.

Brennan’s French Restaurant served “Breakfast At Brennan’s,” with Eggs Hussarde or Eggs St. Denis, all day long. They also recommended Lamb Chops Mirabeau, as well as the rest of a very popular menu of French cuisine. Brennan’s, Still There More at 417 Royal Street, across from the Louisiana Supreme Court building.

Restaurant Antoine

Restaurant Antoine, 31-December-1956

Restaurant Antoine

“the gourmet’s choice…The House of Antoine for 117 years…National polls have placed Antoine’s top on their list of fine restaurants of America and the world. Antoine’s Restaurant, 713 St. Louis Street in the French Quarter. Roy L. Alciatore, Proprieter.

Arnaud’s

Arnaud's, 31-Dec-1956

Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter.

Germaine Cazenave Wells, Owner and Manager of Restaurant Arnaud’s, and daughter of Count Arnaud, the founder, welcomed Sugar Bowl visitors. “The Paris of the South,” Arnaud’s, still at 813 Bienville Street.

Commander’s Palace

Commander's Palace, 31-Dec-1956

Commander’s Palace in the Garden District

“a command performance for generations, the toast of Kings and Queens of Mardi Gras, Commander’s Palace where each meal is a command performance–delicious french cuisine expertly prepared and graciously served.”

Since 1880, Commander’s Palace – “Dining in the Grand Manner,” Washington Avenue at Coliseum.

Lenfant’s

Lenfant's, 31-Dec-1956

Lenfant’s, Poydras and S. Claiborne and Canal Blvd.

Lenfant’s operated two locations in 1956, 537 S. Claiborne and Poydras, and 5236 Canal Blvd. The Special Turkey New Year’s Dinner served to 4 P. M., a la carte after 4pm. “Plenty of Parking Space Available at Both Locations.” Lenfant’s, particularly the Canal Blvd. location, attracted locals not looking to mingle with football visitors.

Pittari’s

T. Pittari's, 31-December-1956

T. Pittari’s, 31-December-1956

“The Famous T. Pittari’s – Directly on your route–to and from The Sugar Bowl Game” at 4200 So. Claiborne. Pittari’s aggressive marketing via downtown hotels attracted visitors. While they came for the lobster and other exotic dishes, locals went to Pittari’s for their popular Creole-Italian dishes.

Happy New Year!

 

Dash-8 on the Crescent 20 #TrainThursday

Dash-8 on the Crescent 20 #TrainThursday

A Dash-8 on the Crescent is an uncommon sighting.

Dash-8 on the Crescent

Amtrak Crescent #20, 29-December-2022, departing New Orleans. AMTK 164, a GE P42-DC “Genesis” in the lead, with AMTK 514, a GE P32-8WH (commonly referred to as a “Dash-8”) behind. Crescent #20 departs Union Passenger Terminal (NOL) at 0915CST. It runs parallel to I-10, which was a navigation canal until 1949. The track continues trough Mid-City New Orleans, turning east when it reaches the Norfolk-Southern “Back Belt.” this connection is directly behind Greenwood Cemetery. Prior to the opening of UPT in 1954, Southern Railway operated the Crescent. That train operated from the L&N terminal at Canal Street and the river.

Once on the Back Belt, there are no grade crossings through the city. The train crosses Lake Pontchartrain on the NS “five-mile bridge” to its first stop in Slidell, LA. From Slidell, it’s off through Mississippi and Alabama to Atlanta, then on to DC, ending at New York’s Penn Station (NYP).

Consist

The Crescent operates “Viewliner” equipment, rather than the “Superliners” used on the City of New Orleans and Sunset Limited. The current consist is 3 coaches, 1 cafe car, 2 sleepers, and a bag-dorm. It’s used this consist since vaccinations for COVID-19 became wide spread. Prior to vaccinations, the route went down to 3-day-per-week operations with two coaches and a single sleeper. Amtrak discontinued dining car service on the Crescent prior to the pandemic.

GE P32-8WH

Illustration of Amtrak Dash-8 locomotives in "Pepsi Can" livery by JakkrapholThailand93 on Deviant Art.

Illustration of Amtrak Dash-8 locomotives in “Pepsi Can” livery by JakkrapholThailand93 on Deviant Art.

Amtrak replaced their EMD F40PH units with Dash-8s. GE delivered this locomotive to Amtrak in 1991. They wore the “Pepsi Can” livery for years.

AMTK 514 is based here at NOL. The NOL crew operate 514 as a switcher to stage the Crescent, City of New Orleans, and Sunset Limited. The Dash-8 steps in for a run to NYP when weather and scheduling messes up the Genesis count.

AMTK 164, a GE P42DC "Genesis" locomotive, pulling the Crescent #20, 29-December-2022. Edward Branley photo.

AMTK 164, a GE P42DC “Genesis” locomotive, pulling the Crescent #20, 29-December-2022. Edward Branley photo.

By the mid-1990s, Amtrak replaced the Dash-8s with GE P42DC “Genesis” locomotives like AMTK 164, shown here.