NOPSI 921 was one of 35 arch roofs that survived.
Arch roof streetcar NOPSI 921 on St. Charles Avenue. Roger Puta photo.
St. Charles Avenue at night. This photo, by Roger Puta, shows NOPSI 921 as it’s just made the turn from Canal Street, onto St. Charles, for its outbound run on that line. NOPSI 921 survived the massive cutback in streetcar service NOPSI implemented in 1964. They discontinued streetcar service at the end of May that year. All but thirty-five of the 900-series streetcars were either demolished or donated to museums.
The route of the St. Charles Line changed a number of times to get to the present configuration. In 1950, NOPSI discontinued “belt” service on St. Charles and Tulane. That change set the current route used by NORTA.
- Start at Carondelet and Canal Streets
- Right-turn onto Canal from Carondelet, on the “third” track
- Immediate right-turn onto St. Charles Avenue from Canal Street
- First stop: pick up riders at St. Charles Avenue and Common Street
- Head outbound on St. Charles to Tivoli (Formerly Lee) Circle
- Half-circle around, entering the neutral ground on St. Charles, just before Calliope.
- Outbound on the St. Charles neutral ground to Riverbend.
- Right-turn from St. Charles Avenue onto S. Carrollton Avenue
- Up S. Carrollton Avenue to S. Claiborne Avenue
- Terminate at Carrollton and Claiborne
- Depart S. Claiborne Terminal
- Down S. Carrollton Avenue to St. Charles Avenue
- Down St. Charles Avenue to Tivoli Circle.
- Three-quarters around the circle, to Howard Avenue
- Up Howard Avenue one block
- Right-turn onto Carondelet Street
- Down Carondelet Street to Canal, where the run terminates.
There are a number of signs in this photo, marking the locations of “ain’t there no more” businesses. The Holiday Inn is now a Wyndham, for example. The Musee’ Conti Wax Museum is closed. The sign on Canal and Royal Streets grabbed drivers’ attention, to entice them to turn into the Quarter and go to the museum.
What other ATNM things do you see?
I found this photo in the Commons while looking for images for my next book project. The History Press considers old electric signs for businesses that are no longer around to be “fading signs,” so Kolb’s Restaurant (the sign is visible on the left) counts.
Kolb’s Restaurant arguably has a “fading sign” right out front.
Kolb’s on St. Charles Avenue
I had three targets in mind in the 100 block of Canal Street for the Fading Signs book. One was the “Russell Stover” in the sidewalk tiles at the entrance of what used to be the candy store. The other two were restaurants, The Pearl, and Kolb’s.
The Fabacher family originally opened a restaurant in the 100 block of St. Charles. The Fabachers were beer brewers. They ran into difficulties placing their beer in restaurants and bars in the city. So, they opened up restaurants of their own. By 1899, they built up a solid clientele on St. Charles Avenue. The St. Charles Hotel was just in the next block. They sold the location to Conrad Kolb that year. Kolb ran with the Fabacher’s success.
Way too many folks forget the strong German roots of New Orleans. Sure, the city changed “Berlin Street” to “General Pershing Street,” but otherwise, Germans are an important part of the overall gumbo. German cuisine attracted visitors staying at the big hotel, as well as locals.
The restaurant closed in 1995, just short of a century of operation. The big electric sign out front remains, though. When THP approached me about doing this book, I worried about how many faded signs there were locally. After reading the books in the series on Detroit and Cincinnati, I used a much tighter standard for the Preservation in Print article on “ghost ads” than the publisher’s. In the Cincy book, the author presents the electric sign from the old baseball park, now that it’s been related to Great America Park, the current home of the Reds. I saw that and thought, well, that brings in Kolb’s!
Kolb’s and cooperation
Looking at the 100 block of St. Charles Avenue, from the St. Charles Hotel. (courtesy Ryan Bordenave)
While walking around on Canal Street, I came across a fading sign on 622 Canal, the building that’s currently occupied by a PJ’s coffee. It’s really faded. So, I took a quick photo and shared it on the NOLA History Guy page on FB. Got some good input on what it was. That’ll be the subject of another article in this series. The Kolbs connection is the photo above. Ryan Bordenave, my go-to expert for All Things Canal Street, shared a photo he has down at the DDD. The sign at 622 Canal is visible, but blurry. What’s not blurry is the Kolbs sign on St. Charles! I didn’t mention Kolbs at all in that discussion, and up this popped!
That’s why this will be a fun project.
Mr. Bingle 1952 – Jingle, Jangle Jingle
Maison Blanche Canal Street, December, 1952
Mr. Bingle 1952
In 1947, Emile Alline was the display-window manager for Maison Blanche. He took his family up to Chicago that fall, for a family trip. While up there, he applied a professional eye to Christmas displays along the “Miracle Mile.” Alline decided his store needed a Christmas character. He sketched a short snowman. Snowman? Not quite right. How about holly wings, and an inverted ice cream cone for a hat? Now Alline had a snow elf!
Mr. Alline brought the concept to MB management. The little guy captivated everyone. The store featured Mr. Bingle all over its print advertising for Christmas, 1958.
Mr. Bingle hooked New Orleans. While the other Canal Street stores did Christmas displays, they didn’t have a character. So, Maison Blanche presented Mr. Bingle. Kids loved him. By 1952, the store displayed Mr. Bingle right up front!
Maison Blanche grew from the single store on Canal Street in the post-war 1940s. They opened stores on S. Carrollton Avenue in Mid City and Frenchmen Street in Gentilly. Mr. Bingle flew out to those locations! So, when Alline commissioned the Mr. Bingle puppets, they visited all the stores.
Canal Street in 1952
Maison Blanche anchored the 900 block of Canal Street for almost a century. S. J. Shwartz built the “MB Building” in 1908. So, by 1952, it stood for over forty years. Shoppers entered on the corner of Canal and Dauphine Streets. The entrance on the left of the photo (behind the bus) led to the office building. The first five floors of the building were retail space. The next seven housed a number of businesses. Many doctors set up shop in the MB building.
Santa and Mr. Bingle look down here from the second floor. So, that area was stockrooms. Eventually, the store covered up the second floor windows with year-round displays.
Maison Blanche Department Stores
Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley
Mr. Bingle tells his story in Chapter 3! Buy the book here!
Single-truck Streetcars were the first electrics in New Orleans
Single-truck streetcars on Canal Street. Teunisson photo, ~1905
Streetcar operating companies phased out mule power in the mid-1890s. So, the single-truck streetcars replaced the “bobtails”, as the first electric cars in the city. “Single-truck” means one set of four wheels. The cars were relatively small. Companies like NO&CRR and NOCRR initially purchased Brill streetcars. They switched to Ford, Bacon, and Davis single-trucks in 1894. The car on the left, running on Prytania, is a Brill. The car running on Annunciation is a FB&D. .
The Prytania Line
The New Orleans City Railroad Company opened the Prytania line on June 8, 1861. The line started at the Clay Monument, Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. Cars ran initially from Canal, up Camp, to Prytania, to Toledano. NOCRR expanded the line in 1883. Prytania ran up to Exposition Boulevard at Audubon Park. Therefore, it dropped off riders at the Cotton Exposition. So, mule-drawn streetcars operated on Prytania at this time.
While the New Orleans and Carrollton RR operated on St. Charles Line, Prytania became popular, because of Touro Infirmary and the Garden District. The streetcars dropped folks off right at the hospital. Many people living in the Garden District took Prytania in for Canal Street shopping. They avoided the crowds on St. Charles. People called Prytania the “Silk Stocking Line” because of the privileged riders.
Prytania’s first electrics were Brills. until the 1920s. The line switched to Jackson and Sharp single-truck streetcars. In 1915, New Orleans Railway and Light ran double-truck “Palace” cars on Prytania. The arch roofs eventually replaced those streetcars in the 1920s. NOPSI discontinued the Prytania line in 1932.
Annunciation serviced the uptown riverfront area and the Irish Channel. The Crescent City Railroad Company opened the line in 1863. New Orleans Traction Company electrified Annunciation in 1895. The line started at Canal and Camp, then up Tchoupitoulas, then Annunciation. At Louisiana, the line turned back towards the river and terminated at Tchoupitoulas. The return was different, because of one-way streets. From Louisiana, it ran down Chippewa, then Race, then Annunciation, Erato, Race, Camp, Calliope, then St. Charles to Canal.
The first electrics on Annunciation were Brills painted yellow with brown trim. FB&Ds replaced the brills in the late 1890s. Palace double-trucks operated on Annunciation around 1910. The line merged with Laurel in 1917.
The Mercier Building
The coupla visible in the top right of the photograph is the top of the Mercier Building. Simon J. Shwartz operated his Maison Blanche Department Store in that building. He tore down the building in 1908. The building we know as the Maison Blanche Building (Now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel New Orleans) dates from that time.
CONTEST time! Help us find “fading ads”
A. Shwartz ad, 800 block of Canal Street (Infrogmation photo)
I’ve submitted the proposal for Fading Ads of New Orleans to The History Press! It’s looking good that they’ll accept the proposal and the book will move forward. That means I need fading ads! You guys are always wonderful about helping out with ideas and old photos. It’s time to reward that help.
Here’s how this is going to work. You submit a photo or a location to one of these places:
Comment on this post, or on the links in the following Facebook spots:
- NOLA History Guy
- Ain’t There No More New Orleans
- New Orleans – Still There More
- Edward Branley’s Personal Page
And you’ll be entered.
- Only two entries per individual per week.
- You can submit a photo or location suggestion only once.
- It’s OK if you suggest something someone else suggests. A lot of us don’t read the comments.
- I’ll judge your submission/suggestion as to whether it works for the book. If it does, you’re entered. If it doesn’t, you can suggest something else. My decisions are final.
- One winner per week. Weeks run Tuesday to Monday. The first week starts today, the last week ends on Christmas Eve.
- The weekly winner will be announced on the Tuesday after that contest closes.
I have four $20 gift cards for Wakin Bakin. So, you can choose between those or a copy of one of my books. While WB is tasty, it’ll be just the books when the gift cards run out.
Let’s Have fun!
I really do appreciate all y’all. You offer good conversation, lots of great research help, and you’re fun folks. I know you’d support this effort without an incentive, which is all the more reason to offer it. I’m looking forward to the discussions.
And we’re off!