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NOLA History Guy Podcast 16-May-2020 is part one of our interview with Katy Morlas Shannon
Original location of the International Trade Mart, Camp and Common Streets.
NOLA History Guy Podcast 16-May-2020
Two segments on a longer edition of NOLA History Guy Podcast this week. First is our pick of the week from Today in New Orleans History. Additionally, part one of our interview with Katy Morlas Shannon.
May 13, 1966 – City agrees with International Trade Mart on a new building
Architectural rendering of the World Trade Center Building as the Four Seasons Hotel (courtesy DDD)
Our Pick of the Week from NewOrleansPast.com is May 13th. On that date in 1966, the city finalized an agreement with the International Trade Mart. The Mart wanted a new headquarters building, So, they acquired property at 2 Canal Street. The organization’s first headquarters was the above building at the corner of Camp and Common Streets. Mayor Vic Schiro continued Chep Morrison’s plans in his administration. The goal was to make New Orleans a gateway to Central and South America. Modernizing the ITM contributed to this. So, the organization built a 33-story office building at the foot of Canal. That building remains a part of the downtown skyline.
“ITM Building” – watercolor by Jeanette Boutell Woest, 1966. via HNOC
In 1985, the ITM merged with International House to become the World Trade Center. The ITM building housed a number of international companies. That’s how the “Mart” worked. Additionally, the building housed foreign consulate offices. As the city’s economy shifted from port traffic and the oil industry to tourism, things changed. While the ITM building was a good location, newer office towers on Poydras appealed to companies. Hurricane Katrina emptied the building. Even the World Trade Center moved across the street to One Canal Place. In 2012, the organization gave the unoccupied building to the city. So, it will soon become a Four Seasons Hotel.
The New Orleans Bee
The New Orleans Bee was a French-language newspaper that began in 1827. L’Abeille (its French name) offered New Orleans’ Creole community the news for over a century. So, we spoke with author and historian Katy Morlas Shannon about her background, The Bee, and how she came to curate the selection of articles from the paper’s first year.
The Big House at Whitney Plantation
Katy Morlas Shannon
Crown baseball tee from Fleurty Girl
We did this interview via Zoom, but only used the audio for the podcast. Katy had a really cool t-shirt from Fleurty Girl on!
Katy M. Shannon on Facebook.
I promise, we’ll get back to the Riverfront Streetcar Line in a few weeks! While we’ll be talking to folks, research continues. Therefore, the Riverfront segments offer lots of details.
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Royal Street Photo Breakdown on this week’s podcast!
100-200 Blocks of Royal Street, 1916.
Royal Street Photo Breakdown
Derby Gisclair shared a neat photo from 1916 earlier this week on social media. The photographer stands in the middle of the 100 block of Royal Street, looking down into the 200 block. As I was looking through some other photos, I came across a 1956 photo of Royal, where that photographer stood almost in the same place. Time for a Royal Street Photo Breakdown!
At the top of the page is the 1916 photo, with Solari’s on the left, an electric sign for Fabacher’s Restaurant hanging over the street, then the Commercial Hotel and Union Bank on the right.
Franck-Bertacci Studios photo of the 100-200 blocks of Royal Street, 1956.
Fast forward to 1956. Solari’s is still on the left. The Commercial Hotel is now the Monteleone Hotel. Fabacher’s Restaurant, which was the hotel restaurant for the Commercial, is long closed. Walgreen’s drug store replaced the bank building in the late 1940s. That drug store remains today.
In the 1916 photo, streetcar tracks and the overhead wiring are visible. The Desire streetcar line ran inbound on Royal Street. The streetcars turned right onto Canal Street. They ran up one block, then turned right again. They ran down Bourbon Street for the French Quarter portion of the outbound run. We’ve talked about the Desire line before, and how it was the main connector for the Quarter.
Buses replaced streetcars on Desire in 1948. So, by the 1956 photo, the tracks and wires are long gone. The maroon-and-cream NOPSI buses serviced Desire.
NewOrleansPast.com – January 15th
NOPSI 817, operating in Belt Service in the 1940s.
Our pick of the week from NewOrleansPast.com (Facebook page, Today in New Orleans History) is Ms. Campanella’s entry for January 15th. The Tulane streetcar line rolled for the first time on 15-January-1871. Mules pulled the streetcars then. The line switched to electric streetcars in the 1890s. Tulane operated in “belt service” with the St. Charles line from 1900 to 1951. Listen to our podcast episode on “Riding the Belt” for more details on that.
NOPSI converted the West End streetcar line to diesel buses on 15-January, 1950, as part of the trend away from electric street rail operations. West End operated as steam train service until the 1890s. After that, electric streetcars ran out to the lakefront, along the east bank of the New Basin Canal. NOPSI retired streetcars on West End in 1950. The line ran until the 1960s, when it became the Canal-Lakeshore line.
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More Southern Rebellion in NOLA History Guy Podcast 18-May-2019
Butler’s General Order 28, 15-May-1862, as printed in the Daily Picayune.
NOLA History Guy Podcast 18-May-2019
Two segments as we’ve been doing for NOLA History Guy Podcast 18-May-2019. We discuss the French Market and Mayor Cantrell’s ideas on re-vamping the market in the first segment, then back to 1862 for the second segment.
The French Market
New Orleans French Market (courtesy Wikimedia Commons user MusikAnimal)
NOLA.com allowed a story about Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s plans for re-vamping the French Market get away from them this weekend. The article is titled, Mayor Cantrell wants the French Market to be like Seattle’s Pike Place. So, T-P presents a clickbait headline. It’s guaranteed to rile up the locals. Offer a comparison of anything in New Orleans to anything in Seattle, and, well, thems fightin’ words!
Open-air, public markets have a rich history in New Orleans. The first of those was the French Market, along the river. As the city grew, Faubourg Treme and Faubourg Ste. Marie opened markets as well. So, by the 1920s, most neighborhoods had public markets. Air conditioning and commercial refrigeration created the shift from the open markets to grocery stores and supermarkets. Shopping styles shifted after World War II. Therefore, construction of supermarkets began when rationing and building restrictions ended.
Post-War French Market
While truck farmers continued to bring produce to the French Market, the butchers and fishmongers moved to supermarkets. The buildings in the French Market closer to Jackson Square grew quiet. By the late 1970s, Dutch Morial recognized the need to boost the Market area. Dutch renovated the buildings. So, Morial’s face-lift attracted artisans and food shops. Fast forward forty years, and it’s time for another renovation and re-vamp. Mayor Cantrell explores successful markets in Seattle and Philadelphia (Reading Market), to see what will work in New Orleans.
General Order 28
Major General Benjamin Butler issued General Order 28, the “Women’s Order,” on 15-May-1862. The Daily Picayune published the full text of the order (illustration above). So, the order enters the Lost Cause mythos after the war. At the time, Butler did what was necessary for an occupying commander. He pacified resistance and re-opened the port.
Riverfront Arch Roofs – 1923-vintage streetcars operating off St. Charles Avenue
NORTA 459 on Riverfront, 2010 (Youtupedia photo)
Riverfront Arch Roofs
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority opened the Riverfront line in 1988. they used two of the 1923 arch roof streetcars and two Melbourne W-2 streetcars. The arch roofs left New Orleans in 1964, when NOPSI discontinued the Canal line.
NORTA 452, ex-Melbourne 626, on Riverfront in 1988 (Infrogmation photo)
The original line operated on a single track. NORTA upgraded the line in 1997 to double-track, wide-gauge operation. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the “new” Riverfront line needed accessible streetcars. NORTA retired the 1923 streetcars and the Melbournes. They built the 400-series arch roofs. The 400s are similar to the 900-series, but with wheelchair lifts and modern propulsion.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the 1923 arch roofs ran on Riverfront and Canal. The red streetcars received devastating flood damage, but the track and overhead wiring came through the storm. Uptown, the green streetcars survived the storm, buttoned up at Carrollton Station. The wiring on St. Charles received extensive damage. So, NORTA operated the 900s on Riverfront and Canal.
The “Green” Streetcars
The arch roof style streetcar came to New Orleans in 1915. Perley A. Thomas created the design while working for the Southern Car Company. New Orleans Railway and Light ordered several, putting them into service on the St. Charles/Tulane belts. When NORwy&Lt re-organized as NOPSI, the new company ordered more arch roofs. By this time, Thomas operated his own streetcar company in High Point, North Carolina. He accepted the order, building the 800- and 900-series arch roofs for New Orleans.
NORTA 461 (ex-NOPSI 922) along the Riverfront line. Infrogmation Photo.
City leaders and NORTA knew the importance of showing the world that New Orleans didn’t die. The green streetcars running along Canal Street and in the French Quarter helped demonstrate that. The 400-series and 2000-series “red ladies” returned from their repairs. The St. Charles line’s power was repaired and upgraded. The green streetcars returned to their regular routes.
Pathways lead the way to fading signs.
Uneed a Biscuit wall sign on Dumaine, just off Bourbon. (Audrey Julienne photo)
We all follow paths and pathways in our lives. Some of us step off the well-trodden paths, forging ahead, making new ones. Most of us, however, follow regular paths. So, we leave home and go to work. At lunchtime, we duck out of work. After grabbing a bite to eat, we reverse directions and finish the work day. Our daily rituals follow regular paths.
Working on the book introduction
I’ve looked at a couple of books in The History Press “fading sign” series. While the introductions are well-written, they didn’t offer me a template. I don’t care for writing in the first person. The history isn’t about me. Because New Orleans isn’t like any other city in the nation, this book needs an introduction just as special. So, I considered some of the locations of fading signs. The signs on shops and other businesses mark their locations on our paths. The ads distract us while we travel on the path.
The “Uneed a Biscuit” ad on Dumaine Street, just off of Bourbon Street, puzzled. me. So, a friend (and denizen of Cafe Lafitte in Exile) pointed out that the ad hits home with patrons of that pub. When standing on the balcony, you look up and see it saying what Uneeda. Thing is, that didn’t start happening until almost seventy years after the ad appeared on the side of that house, half a block down on Dumaine.
So, who looked at the ad?
Streetcars rolled down Bourbon and down Dumaine. The Desire line (yes, of Tennessee Williams fame) traveled outbound on Bourbon. That means riders looked out at the Uneeda sign as they rode home from jobs in the Central Business District (CBD). Riders heading inbound (towards the river) on the City Park line looked up and saw the ad. They rode that streetcar, possibly from as far out as its terminus at City Park Avenue and Dumaine Street.
My friend Grey always uses #lookup to tag photos taken on her early-morning walks. Looking up challenges a walker. It’s easy for a rider, though. Paths into town. Paths back home. I’ve got my intro.
City Park Line connected Mid-City and the French Quarter
Trackless Trolley on the City Park Line, 1964s (courtesy NOPL)
City Park Line
The Orleans Railroad Company opened the City Park line on July 1, 1898. It connected the French Quarter with Mid-City, mostly via Dumaine Street. Orleans RR merged into New Orleans Railway and Light in 1910, along with the other streetcar companies. NORwy&Lt combined the French Market line with City Park (both ex-Orleans RR). The rollboards said “French Market-City Park” in 1921. While the route didn’t change, the line’s name returned to just City Park at that time.
The original route, 1898:
- Start at Canal Street and Exchange Place
- Up Canal to Dauphine Street
- Turn on Dauphine to Dumaine
- Left on Dumaine, then up Dumaine to City Park Avenue
- Down Dumaine to N. Rendon
- N. Rendon to Ursulines
- Ursulines to Burgundy
- Turn onto Canal at Burgundy
- Terminate at Canal and Exchange
In 1910, the route expanded. Instead of turning on Burgundy, City Park continued down Ursulines to Decatur. So, it then continued to Canal, via Decatur and N. Peters. In 1932, NOPSI re-routed City Park, turning the line on Royal to terminate on Canal. This route remained until the line was discontinued in the 1970s.
Streetcars on City Park
Orleans Railroad ran Ford, Bacon, and Davis (FB&D) single-trucks on City Park. Their cars bore a red-and-cream livery. NORwy&Lt replaced the single-trucks with double-truck “Palace” cars in the mid-1910s. NOPSI later replaced the Palaces with 800/900s.
The red livery used by Orleans RR and New Orleans City Railroad are the heritage behind the “red ladies” of the modern Riverfront and Canal Street lines.
Buses and Trackless Trolleys
NOPSI discontinued streetcar operation on City Park in 1941. They switched to buses. City Park was one of the last lines switched before WWII. The War Department turned down other conversions. Buses required gasoline and rubber. Both of those were needed for the war effort.
In 1949, NOPSI replaced buses on City Park with trackless trolleys. They never removed the overhead wires on the route. Trackless Trolleys ran on City Park until 1964. So, buses returned to the line then. NOPSI discontinued the City Park line completely in the 1970s.
The City Park line serviced the “Downtown Backatown” neighborhoods. Like the Desire line, the name indicated the termination point. The streetcars ran on Dumaine Street, through Treme, into Mid-City. Since the line went to Canal Street, City Park carried commuters into work. The line serviced the Quarter as well, particularly Burgundy Street. Armstrong Park blocked the Dumaine portion of the route. I remember seeing the City Park buses at the route’s terminating point as I rode past Dumaine Street on the Esplanade line.
When Aaron Handy III shared this photo in a Facebook group, the City Park rollboard brought back memories of riding home from Brother Martin in the 1970s. While I never rode the line, I was fascinated that there were streetcars going all the way out to the park, in-between Canal Street and Esplanade. This photo looks to be part of the Dorothy Violet Gulledge collection at the New Orleans Public Libaray.