Streetcars Canals Baseball in Mid-City New Orleans
Heinemann Park, 1915
Streetcars, Canals, Baseball!
In one of our podcast conversations with Derby Gisclair, we discussed aerial photos of Heinemann Park/Pelican Stadium. Derby explains the neighborhood around the stadium used by the Pelicans baseball club. While Heinemann Park wasn’t the first ballpark used by the AA-club, it was their home for most of their tenure.
This 1915 photo is amazing. It shows a football field, chalked out over the outfield, and a racing oval behind the fence. Derby suspects the racing oval dates from the amusement park the stadium replaced.
City Park Avenue to Tulane Avenue
Aerial view of the New Canal, running out to Lake Pontchartrain at the top, 1915
The Pelicans played ball at Crescent City Park, later known as Sportsman’s Park, until 1901. They moved to Tulane Avenue that year. Heinemann built the ballpark at Tulane and S. Carrollton in 1915. The team moved there that year.
Here’s the area behind the Halfway House, City Park Avenue and the New Canal. It’s a bit grainy, but you can see the patch of ground where Sportsman’s Park was located. NORD eventually built St. Patrick’s Park, a few blocks down, at S. St. Patrick and the New Canal.
Getting to the ballgame
S. Carrollton Avenue bridge over the New Basin Canal. It was demolished when the canal was filled in, late 1940s.
Pelican Stadium sat very close to the New Canal. A set of railroad tracks separated the park from the waterway. So, bridge crossed the Canal there. The streetcars used that bridge, then turned onto Tulane Avenue to continue their inbound run. So, baseball fans from Uptown rode the St. Charles line to get to the ballpark. Folks coming from downtown rode the Tulane line, down Tulane Avenue, to the ballpark.
So, I know we’ve talked about the Tulane line, particularly when it operated in “belt” service with the St. Charles line. It seems line some things pop up regularly. But hey, this is baseball! The area around S. Carrollton and Tulane was a nexus. The Tulane/St. Charles belt crossed the New Canal here. Passenger trains coming to town from the West rolled by, on their way to the Illinois Central’s Union Station. Folks bowled across the street at Mid-City Lanes. Therefore, the corner is important to many folks.
Especially baseball fans.
After the streetcars
Pelican Stadium, ca 1950
Belt service on the St. Charles and Tulane lines was discontinued in 1950. So, after that time, fans from Uptown rode the streetcar to its new terminus at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues. They transferred to the Tulane bus line from there. The Tulane line provided trackless trolley service until 1964. After 1964, Tulane used regular diesel buses. While the railroads worked with the city on the new Union Passenger Terminal, they trains still stopped right here, a convenience for Uptown passengers. The other “belt service” in New Orleans was on Canal and Esplanade, which we discuss in my book on the Canal line.
This photo is likely from 1950, because the city resurfaced Tulane Avenue. So, they removed the streetcar tracks, leaving the overhead wires for trackless trolleys.
After Pelican Stadium
The stadium became the Fontainebleau Hotel after the stadium was demolished. So, the hotel became a mini-storage facility later. Now it’s condos and storage units.
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 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.
Uptown Backatown lines connected downtown to the universities.
Uptown Backatown – Commuter Lines
The S. Claiborne line began operation in 1915. New Orleans Railway and Light Company was the city’s transit operator then. The S. Claiborne line’s route, 1915-1916:
- Canal Street at Carondelet
- Inbound on Canal (1 block) to St. Charles Avenue
- Right turn onto St. Charles, up to Howard Avenue.
- Howard Avenue to S. Rampart
- S. Rampart to Clio
- Clio to S. Claiborne
- S. Claiborne up to Broadway
- Broadway to the end of the line at Maple Street
- From Maple Street, Broadway to S. Claiborne
- S. Claiborne to Erato
- Erato to Carondelet
- Carondelet to Canal
After 1916, the S. Claiborne line was extended. Instead of ending on Broadway, it ran all the way to S. Carrollton Avenue. Carrollton and Claiborne was an important corner/hub for street rail. The St. Charles/Tulane belt stopped at S. Claiborne, and the Orleans-Kenner Railroad’s interurban service came into New Orleans at this corner.
As the backatown neighborhoods grew, the streetcar lines that connected them grew as well. NORwyLT initially operated the single-truck Ford, Bacon, and Davis streetcars. The 800/900 series arch roof streetcars ran on S. Claiborne after 1923. Tulane and Loyola students, as well as New Orleanians attending sporting events at Tulane Stadium used the S. Claiborne line as an alternative to St. Charles.
I’m not sure about the original source of the photo above. It’s NOPSI 964 at the end of an outbound run on S. Claiborne.
NOPSI 964 advertises Luzianne Coffee on this run. Luzianne coffee and tea is one of the brands from Reily Foods. Reily also makes/sells CDM and French Market Coffee.
Streetcar operations on S. Claiborne were discontinued in favor of bus service in 1953. Around the same time, belt service on St. Charles and Tulane was discontinued. The Tulane line was converted to bus service, and St. Charles began point-to-loop operation, running from S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne, down S. Carrollton to St. Charles, then looping around Carondelet and St. Charles in the CBD. Today, the corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne is still a transit hub, but two of the three lines are buses.
Route information source: The Streetcars of New Orleans by Louis C. Hennick, E. Harper Charlton.