Lower Mississippi Valley map showing the region in 1720.
Lower Mississippi Valley
French map showing New Orleans and the Lower Mississippi Valley, ca. 1720. The image features a plan of the Vieux Carre. The draftsman overlaid the city plan on top of a map of the larger region. The regional map shows waterways stemming from the Mississippi River. The map description and commentary are in French.
Plan of the city
This map is dated as 1720. While that’s close enough to develop a sense of the region at the time, it is off by at least a couple of years. Adrien de Pauger, an engineer and cartographer on Bienville’s staff, arrived in New Orleans in 1721. Bienville tasked de Pauger with surveying the land and planning out the city. He completed the project towards the end of 1721. Additionally, de Pauger traveled to Mobile, planning the original layout of that city. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette lists the publication date of this map as circa 1730. That matches better than the 1720 origin date.
Just a plan
This map reflects a serious issue researchers face when examining old maps and surveys. While de Pauger laid out the full grid for the neighborhood we now call the French Quarter, it was a plan. It would be decades before residents moved away from the streets closer to the river. There are several reasons for this. First, civilians built homes in the Southwest corner of the grid in the first half of the 18th century. Bienville established Fort St. Charles in that corner. The fort housed the small garrison assigned to New Orleans. Additionally, it offered a refuge to citizens in the event the settlement was attacked. So, naturally, New Orleanians desired to be close to the fort.
Maps showing the extent of fire damage in 1788 detail areas of de Pauger’s grid that were occupied at that time. Almost all of the planned grid above Dauphine Street (called “Calle de Bayona” during the Spanish Colonial period) remained occupied, fifty-plus years after this 1720ish map.
This trend isn’t limited to 18th century maps, as we’ve seen with railroad maps in the 1840s-1850s. Exercise caution when using a single source!
The Bagur Southern Souvenir Company produced postcards of New Orleans.
Bagur Southern Souvenir
“Greetings from New Orleans” postcard, published by the Dexter Press company, of Pearl River, NY. Bagur Southern Souvenir Company sold a wide range of products. They hold the rights to the “Aunt Sally” logo for “Creole Pralines.”
Curt Teich created this style of postcard. His company produced hundreds of “Greetings postcards.”
Greetings from New Orleans
Curt Teich, a German, immigrated to the United States in 1895. He opened a print shop in 1899. Teich produced linen postcards. Beginning in 1931, Teich produced a line of color postcards saying, “Greetings From…” He published postcards featuring hundreds of locations across the United States.
Businesses selling souvenirs snapped up Teich’s postcards. Travelers purchased the postcards to document family trips. The postcards continued in popularity until the Interstate Highway System dominated auto travel in the 1950s. Interstate highways bypassed the small towns and shops that sold Teich’s Cards. Stops consisted of gas stations and restaurants immediately off of the highway, rather than passing through towns.
Curt Teich passed away in 1974. He was 96. The family donated their collection of postcards to the Lake County Discovery Museum in Libertyville, Illinois. The museum transferred the collection to the Newberry Library in Chicago. The collection at The Newberry consists of over 500,000 unique postcard designs. This postcard came to the Newberry from the Bagur shop in the French Market.
Pralines and Souvenirs
The Bagur family began their candy business in the 1910s. They added pralines to the product line in the 1930s. The business moved into the French Market at that time. The Aunt Sally’s shop operates there to this day. So, Bagur Southern owns the shop, presenting the iconic figure out front.
It comes as no surprise that a candy shop in the French Market sold souvenirs. While postcard sales aren’t what they used to be, Teich’s New Orleans postcard no doubt did well at Aunt Sally’s.
Tom Anderson advertised his Arlington Saloon in The Mascot.
Ad for the Arlington Saloon and Restaurant, 10-12 N. Rampart Street (later 112 N. Rampart, when the city’s address scheme changed) in the 3-April-1897 edition of The Mascot. Anderson and the saloon’s namesake, Josie Arlington, were two of the most well-known personalities of the Storyville District.
Thomas “Tom” Anderson developed extensive business and political connections while working for the Louisiana Lottery Corporation in the 1880s. He leveraged those connections, opening his first saloon in 1891. While he represented the Fourth Ward in the Louisiana Legislature, he didn’t serve until 1904. So, he wasn’t part of the government when The District opened. Anderson listened, watched, invested, and profited.
Arlington Saloon and Restaurant
One of Anderson’s early business partnerships was with Josie Lobrano. Lobrano operated a bordello on Basin Street. Anderson invested in the bordello. Josie Lobrano later went by the name Arlington.
This establishment, located outside Storyville, immediately grew in popularity. The saloon offered booths for customers seeking privacy. Anderson developed a reputation for keeping his mouth shut. So, politicians, cops, and businessmen met at the saloon. No doubt Anderson picked up useful tips from those meetings. The Arlington Saloon and Restaurant boasted “the latest tips on the races.” Sports bettors regularly frequented the Arlington.
The Arlington enabled Anderson to open up additional businesses in The District. He partnered with Billy Struve, a reporter for the New Orleans Daily Item, in The Astoria, an establishment on S. Rampart Street. They later purchased the building at the corner of Customhouse (now Iberville) and Basin Street. They named this saloon, Arlington Annex. This saloon eventually overshadowed the original Arlington. Since it was in The District, the Annex appeared in more illustrations and photographs.
This newspaper was, if you will, a forerunner to modern music and entertainment papers like Offbeat and The Gambit.
Stephen B. Massicot was a “promising young Orleanian.”
Obituary for Mr. Stephen Massicot (click for a PDF copy), who passed away on June 4, 1898. This column ran in the Daily Picayune on Wednesday, June 8, 1898. Massicot graduated from St. Aloysius College in 1897.
St. Aloysius in 1898
St. Aloysius opened in New Orleans in 1869. The original campus was a house on Barracks and Chartres in the French Quarter. By 1890, the school outgrew that first location. In 1892, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart acquired a mansion just outside the Quarter from the Ursuline Sisters. The nuns desired an uptown location. They moved to State Street. Their campus, at the corner of Esplanade and North Rampart. reverted back to the Archdiocese. The archbishop leased it to the BOSH.
So, Stephen Massicot entered St. Aloysius in its second year on Esplanade Avenue. That mansion remained until 1924. That’s when the building known to generations of Crusaders was built.
Life after St. Aloysius
Stephen Massicot was valedictorian of the Class of 1897. After graduation, he went to work for Gotfried & Muller. They were cotton buyers. While cotton plantations no longer used the enslaved for labor, cotton was still huge in New Orleans. Riverboats still brought cotton down from the plantations. Mule -drawn wagons transported raw bales to cotton presses along the riverfront. Those presses compressed cotton for transport. Wagons returned the pressed cotton to the riverfront. Ocean-going ships took it up the east coast or to Europe.
So, cotton was a commodity. Buyers purchased cotton, either at the source (the plantation), or upon arrival in New Orleans. The grower moved on. The buyer then flipped the commodity, selling the pressed cotton to ship owners. They carried the product to textile mills. Those mills transformed raw cotton into bolts of fabric.
The obit describes how Stephen Massicot complained of discomfort and a fever two weeks before his passing. Doctors diagnosed his discomfort as typhoid fever. Five days after the diagnosis, the young man died.
The paper reports that the student body of St. Aloysius attended the funeral. His surviving classmates served as pall bearers. After the funeral, his mates laid him to rest in St. Louis Cemetery.
Map of the Great Conflagration in New Orleans, 21-March-1788.
You’ve likely seen this map before, since it dramatically shows the extent of damage. The fire began on Good Friday, March 21, 1788. The starting point was the home of Don Vincente Jose Nuñez. He held the position of Treasurer for the Spanish Colonial Army garrison. Nuñez and his family lived at the corner of Chartres and Toulouse. The fire spread from there, extending to the riverfront, then up to Dauphine Street, towards Canal Street to Conti, and downriver to St. Phillip. Numerous families were displaced as a result of the fire. The Cabildo, the seat of the Spanish Colonial government, along with the “Capuchin Church” dedicated to St. Louis, were destroyed. Many structures along the riverfront survived, including the Ursuline Convent.
Governor Miro ordered the reconstruction of the city. Don Andres Almonaster y Rojas financed the rebuilding of the Cabildo and the church. The Cabildo was again destroyed in the second great fire, in 1794. The Cabildo building we now know dates to after the 1794 fire. The Spanish government required that the reconstruction conform to their building codes. So, brick-and-mortar replaced wood.
The map’s origin is unclear. The Library of Congress copy bears a stamp from the “Map Division” dated 15-Aug-1908. The book, Louisiana Under the Rule of Spain, France, and the United States, by James Alexander Robertson, includes a reproduction of the map. The Robertson book, published in 1911, presents a cropped version of the map. So, Robertson may have used the LOC copy. Either way, the map predates the book. The map lists the French names for the streets rather than the Spanish, but the parade ground bears the name, “Plaza de Armas,” the Spanish usage. This combination of languages indicates it was printed in the 19th Century, when the city was under American control. Most publications using the map simply cite the Library of Congress.
We’ll keep going down the rabbit hole!
NOTE: Clicking on the image on this page or here takes you to the LOC page for the map, where you’ll find a hi-res TIFF copy available.
Federico Macaroni Manufacturing operated a pasta factory at 1000 Chartres in the Vieux Carre.
Federico Macaroni Manufacturing
Happy St. Joseph’s Day! There were several pasta factories in the Vieux Carre at the start of the Twentieth Century. This 1917 photo, part of a New Orleans Chamber of Commerce set, shows the Federico Macaroni Manufacturing Company’s first factory at 1000 Chartres. The Federicos demolished the existing building. In 1920, they replaced it with the four-story structure currently in place. The new building suffered severe damage from a fire in 1927.
During the Reconstruction period following the Southern Rebellion, Sicilians migrated to the United States in large numbers. The climate in New Orleans appealed to these folks more so than that of Northern cities. Like the Irish and Germans before them, the Sicilians began life in New Orleans low on the social ladder. They settled in New Orleans at a time when more-established families living in the Vieux Carre moved to other neighborhoods, particularly Uptown.
The Sicilians took advantage of this, acquiring property in the Quarter. By the late 1890s, Jim Crow laws forced many Creoles of Color, both formerly enslaved and free people of color, from Faubourgs Marigny and Treme. The Sicilians left businesses in the Quarter and moved their residences to these neighborhoods, particularly the Treme. From there, they expanded towards the lake, moving into Mid-City. By 1915, the community petitioned the Archbishop to shift St. Anthony of Padua Church from Rampart Street, to a new parish at the end of Canal Street.
Prior to the immigration waves of the 1880s, demand for pasta was low. The French-Spanish Creoles, long influenced by Afro-Caribbean Black people, ate rice as their primary staple. The Irish added potatoes to the rice when they came in numbers. In the 1880s, the Sicilians added pasta. As demand for pasta grew, one-story shops became multi-story factories.
For more reading on the Sicilians and their impact on New Orleans and our cuisine, check out Professor Justin A. Nystrom’s book, Creole Italian – Sicilian Immigrants and the shaping of New Orleans food culture.