Canal Street 1958 is a view from the roof of the Jung Hotel.
Canal Street 1958
Franck Studios photo of Canal Street, looking inbound towards the river. The Franck Studios photographer stands on the rooftop of the Jung Hotel, at 1500 Canal. Krauss Department Store stands in the 1201 block to the left, with the Hotel New Orleans in the 1300 block on the right. The Saenger Theater is across Basin Street from Krauss, with the iconic buildings of the 901 block (Audubon Building, Kress, and Maison Blanche) in the background, left. The studio shot this photo in 1958 or 1959.
Krauss in the 1950s
This photo offers a great view of the expansion progress of Krauss. The original store, built by Leon Fellman in 1903, consists of the two-story section fronting Canal Street. Fellman acquired the property in 1899. He built that first 2-story section and leased it to the Krauss Brothers. The brothers acquired the property behind the building, along Basin Street. In 1911, they built a five-story expansion. You can see the line/seam after four windows on each floor. Leon Heymann (the “Krauss Brother-in-Law”) built the third portion of the store in 1921. Heymann continued expanding the store until it filled the block between Canal and Iberville Streets.
While HNOC dates this picture at “approximately 1955,” the streetcar tracks narrow it down for us. Note the two-track configuration in the Canal Street neutral ground. With streetcar operation limited to Canal and St. Charles, the city ripped up the two outside tracks on Canal. The lines using those tracks had been converted to buses by 1948. So, Canal operated on the two tracks running from Liberty Place to City Park Avenue. One block of the inbound outside track remained, between Carondelet Street and St. Charles Avenue. St. Charles streetcars turned for their outbound run on that track.
The city planted the palm trees in this photo as part of the 1957 “beautification project.” They also built planter boxes along the neutral ground. Unfortunately, those palm trees only lasted about three years, because of a couple of cold winters.
Wide shot of the strip mall that contained Maison Blanche Gentilly.
Maison Blanche Gentilly
Franck Studios photograph of a strip mall on Gentilly Boulevard at Foy Street. The address is 3043 Gentilly Blvd. Shot in 1950, the tenants in the still-standing strip changed a great deal in over seventy years. Walgreens anchors the strip on the left, and Maison Blanche’s Gentilly store on the right. In-between stand a Morgan and Lindsay dime store and Capitol Stores Supermarket. A billboard advertising JAX Beer (from the Jackson Brewing Company on Decatur Street). The brewery proclaimed JAX, the “best beer in town.”
The Maison Blanche Gentilly store opened in 1948. The company expanded from the single store on Canal Street that year. They opened two new stores almost simultaneously. The first stood in a strip mall at the corner of Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues. This store catered to the Mid-City neighborhood. Gentilly witnessed an incredible boom after WWII. Men left their family homes as seventeen and eighteen year olds. They returned four or five years later, ready to get on with their lives. Rather than move back in with mom and dad, they chose Gentilly. While the area around Elysian Fields Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard (just two blocks from this strip mall) was developed, the neighborhoods heading out towards the lake stood relatively empty. Returning veterans bought lots and built homes there. The area around Elysian Fields and Gentilly transitioned into a retail nexus for the neighborhood. One short bus ride appealed to Gentilly residents, compared to riding all the way downtown.
Out to Gentilly Woods
As Gentilly continued to grow, Maison Blanche grew with the neighborhood. Developers opened the Gentilly Woods Mall, down the street, next to the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, in 1957. MB moved the Gentilly store to that mall. The original Gentilly store became a budget annex. In 1974, the Gentilly store moved a second time, from Gentilly Woods to The Plaza in Lake Forest, in New Orleans East.
Looking down Canal in 1926 reveals many of the buildings still standing on the city’s main street.
Looking down Canal
Canal Street, looking towards the river from the 1000 block. Franck Studios shot this photo between 1926 and 1929. The old-style lampposts on Canal Street date the photo prior to 1930. The poor condition of the neutral ground also indicates this was shot before the 1930 beautification program. To the left, the building at the corner of Canal and Burgundy in the 1001 block flows into the Audubon, Kress, and Maison Blanche buildings in the 901 block. On the right, the buildings of the 1000, 900, and 800 blocks flow together. Back to the left, the Godchaux Building stands prominently in the 500 block, with its cupola and rooftop water tower. An electric sign advertising the Orpheum Theater, hangs across the Canal Street.
Arch roof streetcars 821 and 813, operate on the N. Claiborne and St. Charles lines. St. Charles ran in belt service with Tulane at this time. The neutral ground held five tracks at this point. This enabled streetcars to connect and switch as needed at Rampart Street. The area between Rampart and Basin streets served as a busy terminal area, as various lines converged, offering riders connections to the railroad stations.The Canal/Esplanade cars, along with the West End line, operated on the inside tracks. Lines coming inbound to Canal popped up for a block, traveled the outside tracks for a block, then turned for their outbound runs. NOPSI discontinued and demolished all of the remaining 800-series streetcars in 1964.
While HNOC suggests the date at 1926 to 1929, the presence of streetcars narrows it down a bit. Since motormen and conductors struck NOPSI from July to October, 1929, this photo likely dates before that time.
Behind the first set of streetcars stand a set of “Palace” cars. These larger streetcars from the American Car Company, operated in belt service on Canal and Esplanade. The Palace cars also ran out to West End, on that line.
L&N uptown tracks were where the railroad staged passenger trains.
L&N uptown tracks
Parlor car 395, Louisville and Nashville Railroad, on the L&N Uptown tracks near Gravier and S. Front Streets. The photo is part of the George F. Mungier Collection from the Louisiana State Museum. Photo is undated, but details in the photo place it in the mid-1890s. The Anheuser-Busch stables (left) and brewery (right) are visible, as is the Daniel Edwards Iron Works. The railroad staged passenger trains on the uptown side of Canal Street, then brought them into the station.
American railroads offered seating in parlor cars as an upgrade from coach class. While European railroads offered first- and second-class coach cars, American railroads resisted seating by class. Additionally, American railroads had to maintain “separate but equal” seating for African Americans. So, the railroads added “parlor” cars as an upgrade. These cars sat fewer passengers, and offered food and beverages in the car. The parlor car offered the passenger willing to pay extra an escape from the crowds in coach. On overnight trips, the parlor car enabled the passenger to split the difference between coach and a sleeper. While the sleeping car was the best option, the parlor car’s lower capacity and extra amenities made the trip better.
L&N Canal Street
The L&N railroad operated a station on Canal Street since the early 1890s. The railroad used terminal tracks on the uptown side of Canal Street to assemble passenger trains. They then pulled the train across Canal, up to the boarding platforms. From Canal Street, L&N trains traveled along the river to Elysian Fields Avenue. They turned north there, using the Pontchartrain Railroad tracks to head out of town to the East. L&N used the train bridge over the Rigolets Pass to cross the lake and move north-and-east. The well-known station appeared on Canal Street in 1902. So, this parlor car pulled up into the original station.
Daniel Edwards Iron Works
According to the “Standard History of New Orleans,” 1900, the Daniel Edwards Foundry opened in 1846. The business underwent ownership and management changes in the second half of the 19th Century.
T. Pittari’s Restaurant started uptown before moving to Broadmoor.
T. Pattari’s Restaurant
Pittari’s Restaurant was originally located on Magazine and Washington. Tom Pittari took over from his uncle, Anthony, and moved the place to the 4200 S. Claiborne in the 1940s. While it was best known for its exotic dishes, such as Maine lobster and wild game, Pittari’s solid Creole cooking attracted a regular clientele. Fitzmorris offers a detailed profile of the restaurant. I came away from his story thinking the place was more a clip joint than a neighborhood restaurant. The restaurant closed after the one-two punch of the big street flooding in 1978 and 1980.
French Quarter food in Broadmoor
Fitzmorris describes Tom Pittari’s marketing in detail. I like the part about giving cab drivers an extra tip when they enticed tourists out of the Vieux Carre out to S. Claiborne. The place was huge, taking up the entire 4200 block. The activity, on what was already a very busy street, stuck in the heads of passers-by. Pittari combined that neighborhood action with tourists and stayed busy.
What made Pittari’s Restaurant popular was their basic menu. Fitzmorris writes:
The Creole dishes were better still. The dish I remember most fondly was crab bisque, made with a medium roux, a good bit of claw crabmeat, and a crab boulette that the waiter would bring in a separate dish and plop into the soup right in front of you.
Tom Pittari no doubt saw the crowds waiting to eat barbecue shrimp at Pascal’s Manale (a near neighbor). He developed his own excellent version. They baked very fine oysters Rockefeller and Bienville, broiled fish and meats with interesting sauces, and fried seafood well. Really, Pittari’s was a respectable all-around Creole restaurant. But nobody seems to remember that.
Good Creole-French food attracted tourists to Pittari’s Restaurant. You can just hear a cab driver in the 1950s telling a tourist couple as they pulled away from the hotel, “I’ve got a great place for you, and you don’t need a reservation!” Add to that solid Creole-Italian dishes, and the locals walked or drove over.
The “exotic” food that attracted locals was live Maine Lobster. Pittari’s was the first restaurant in New Orleans to offer live lobster. The tank stood right in the dining room. The restaurant also cooked a stuffed lobster. The signature lobster dish was “Lobster Kadobster.” They broiled the lobster, serving it with a spicy sauce. Fitzmorris recalls that the dish was quite expensive. His other comments on the menu’s pricing are, well, not flattering.
The St. Aloysius Color Guard was a military-style unit in the mid-1960s.
Aloysius Color Guard
From the book: “Color Guard. Prior to the activation of the school’s NJROTC unit, the St. Aloysius Band also included a Color Guard for presenting the American flag at football games, Carnival parades, and other events.” The unit consisted of a commander (left), two rifle escorts, and color bearers carrying the United States flag and the flag of the City of New Orleans. The 1966 Crusader yearbook staff shot this photo on the Esplanade Avenue neutral ground. Students in the unit are unidentified; if you know who these young men are, please let me know!
Band auxiliary to NJROTC
In 1967, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart announced an arrangement with the United States Navy to establish a Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC) unit at St. Aloysius High School. Participation in the unit was mandatory for Crusaders in grades 10, 11, and 12. The school adopted the Navy’s khaki undress uniform for all grades.
When St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu merged to form Brother Martin High, the NJROTC unit moved to Elysian Fields. The band and the color guard adopted the NJROTC uniforms for public events. The band wore the NJROTC service dress blue uniform. This consisted of navy blue wool trousers and a double-breasted wool jacket, with six buttons. Band members wore a white, long-sleeved shirt and a black necktie with the suit. Their covers were a naval officers style “combination cap” with a white cover. Ranks were indicated by insignia on the jacket sleeves. Officers wore thin stripes near the jacket cuff. Chief Petty Officers wore a CPO-style insignia on the upper sleeve. The band’s Drum Major held the rank of Cadet Lieutenant, and the commander of the color guard was a Cadet Lieutenant (Junior Grade).
BMHS kept the NJROTC uniforms for the band through the 1975-76 school year.