Arch Roof streetcars at the Cemeteries 1963 #StreetcarMonday

Arch Roof streetcars at the Cemeteries 1963 #StreetcarMonday

Arch Roof Streetcars stack up at the Cemeteries Terminal, 1963

1963 arch roof streetcars

Five arch roof streetcars at the Cemeteries Terminal, Canal Street, 1963 (Connecticut Archives photo)

Arch Roof Streetcars in 1963

The 1923-vintage 800- and 900-series arch roof streetcars serviced the Canal line starting in the 1930s. Prior to 1935, the American Car Company’s “Palace” cars ran on Canal. New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) standardized streetcar operations when the company took over the system. They liked the Perley A. Thomas, arch roof design. Since NOPSI wanted to phase out streetcar operations in favor of buses, they used these cars everywhere. Preparations to convert Canal to buses began in 1959. By 1963, NOPSI reached the ready point. Still, the busiest line in the city had to keep going, so the arch roof streetcars kept moving.

The Canal line

The Canal Street line terminated at the Cemeteries since the 1930s. After “belt service” was discontinued, the streetcars made a left-turn onto City Park Avenue. They came to a stop on City Park Avenue. A switch in the street enabled the streetcars to change tracks to from outbound to inbound and vice versa. The West End line continued up City Park Avenue, turning at the New Basin Canal for the run up to Lake Pontchartrain.

When West End converted to buses in 1947, NOPSI re-designed the Cemeteries Terminal. They removed the left-turn onto City Park. NOPSI installed a double-slip switch in the Canal Street neutral ground. That switch/terminal remained until June of 1964. NOPSI removed all the track at that time. Bus operation replaced the arch roof streetcars. The Canal (Cemeteries) bus line made a right-turn from Canal Street. The buses went half a block to the start of Canal Boulevard, then pulled into a U-turn terminal in the 5600 block of Canal Blvd.

Terminal operations

In this photo, five cars are in/near the terminal. The streetcar on the left is on the inbound track, behind the switch. The second car from the left enters the switch from the outbound track, starting its inbound run. This was common for the Cemeteries Terminal. This happens regularly at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne, at the end of the St. Charles line.

The three streetcars to the right wait on the outbound track. When the first two cars depart for downtown, those cars will enter both sides of the terminal. They depart per the schedule.

The Cemeteries Terminal changed when streetcars returned to Canal in 2004. Instead of a a two-track terminal, the line came down to a single track. Outbound streetcars stopped just before a single crossover. The lead outbound car rode through the switch, to the end bumper. The operator changed the poles. Upon departure, the streetcar crossed to the inbound track. Streetcars waited, similar to the three on the right in the photo, for their turn to go through the switch.

The 2000-series streetcars used today ride through the Canal/City Park intersection, to Canal Blvd. The current incarnation of the terminal consists of two u-turn tracks. Canal uses point-to-loop operation.

 

 

City Park Line – Trackless Trolleys #Backatown #StreetcarMonday

City Park Line – Trackless Trolleys #Backatown #StreetcarMonday

City Park Line connected Mid-City and the French Quarter

City Park Line

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 Route

The original route, 1898:

Outbound

  • 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

Inbound

  • 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.

Downtown Backatown

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.

The Photo

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.

 

 

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s

mid-city railroading

L&N Train leaving Canal Street, 1940s (Ron Flanery photo)

Mid-City Railroading – late 1940s

I ran out to the UNO Library a couple of weeks ago, chasing down some old railroad maps. I remembered seeing a set of maps there a few years back, but resisted the temptation to go totally down the rabbit hole on railroad stuff. One of the things that did stick with me, though, was that there was a railroad engine terminal behind Greenwood Cemetery, more or less where First Baptist Church is now (below).

mid-city railroading

Engine terminal by Greenwood Cemetery, 1949 (City of New Orleans)

 

Grade crossing survey

I found the documents I remembered quickly. It was a grade crossing survey from 1949. The compiled the data for the new Union Passenger Terminal project. I didn’t need high-quality scans for now. So I took some phone pics and moved on. Just knowing I was right about the engine terminal was enough. I came back to those images this morning. I wanted to get an idea of the general area around City Park Avenue to the New Basin Canal. Therefore, I took quick shots of those plates.

mid-city railroading

Grade crossing survey, 1949 (City of New Orleans)

So, I had some time this morning, and I looked those other images over. I came across something that made me scratch my head. The plate showing tracks around Bienville Street and N. Carrollton Avenue (above) showed the layout of a full passenger rail station.

Passenger Stations in New Orleans

This confused me in a big way. I’d always known about the five passenger stations in the city. They were:

  • Louisville and Nashville (Canal and the river)
  • Terminal Station, Southern and Gulf, Mobile and Ohio (Canal and Basin Streets)
  • Union Station, Illinois Central and Southern Pacific (Howard Avenue)
  • Texas Pacific/Missouri Pacific (Annunciation Street)
  • Louisiana & Arkansas-Kansas City Southern (S. Rampart and Girod Streets)

These five were demolished, and UPT was built right behind Union Station, so it fronted Loyola Avenue. So, I’d never heard of a station in Mid-City.

mid-city railroading

Bienville Street and N. Carrollton Avenue, 1937 (Sanborn)

While I’ve read a bunch on railroads in the city, I’ll be the first to admit that my knowledge is quite incomplete. Drew Ward graciously pulled up the Sanborns for N. Carrollton and Bienville. The image above is from 1937, and doesn’t look anything like a proper passenger station.

I’ll keep you posted on what I learn.

 

 

Dixie Brewery – Art by Jane Brewster

Dixie Brewery – Art by Jane Brewster

Dixie Brewery Art

dixie brewery art

Jane Brewster’s Dixie Brewery

Dixie Brewery Art

I had the pleasure of giving a talk at a private event last night, Uptown. It’s becoming an ongoing thing, and they’re lots of fun. These talks give me a chance to introduce my books and speaking to others. I also get the opportunity to introduce other creatives to new people.

Tulane Avenue

Last night’s topic was Tulane Avenue. This particular street in New Orleans has had its ups and downs over the decades. We started with the Robinson Atlas map of the 1st District in 1881. Tulane Avenue didn’t even exist at that time. It was Common Street, all the way up to Claiborne Avenue.

So, the talk went through various stages in Tulane Avenue’s history, from the 1920s, through the 1930s and WWII, While we talked about “Riding The Belt“, the main section of the conversation was about the 1950s. That’s when Tulane Avenue became the “Miracle Mile”.

Jane Brewster’s Dixie Brewery

One of the fixtures in so many photos of Tulane Avenue is Dixie Brewery, at 2401 Tulane (corner S. Rocheblave). The brewery was founded in 1907. The location was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and is no longer used by the company.

I was looking around online for a good, older photo of the brewery to include in the talk. When I did a basic images search, one of the hits back was of Jane Brewster’s painting of the building. Jane is a New Orleans artist who captures the heart and soul of the city. I wanted to share this painting with you, and encourage you to check out the rest of Jane’s work.

Lakeview Theater

dixie brewery art

Jane Brewster’s Lakeview Theater

Mike Scott of NOLA dot com did an article last week on “lost movie theaters” that offered up photos from Da Paper’s archives on a number of places that are ATNM. When I shared it on the NOLA History Guy Facebook Page, folks mentioned a bunch of long-gone theaters that weren’t listed in the article. One of those was Lakeview Theater, which was on Harrison Avenue. I remember Lakeview Theater because it’s where my parents took us to see “Gone with the Wind” back in the 1960s. When I was looking on Jane’s website for the Dixie painting, I came across a her painting of the theater. I remember the building vividly, from all the drives we took from Metairie, out to my grandma’s house in Gentilly.

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton and Tulane, 1964

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton and Tulane, 1964

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton

S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues, 1964. (Franck photo)

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton

This 1964 photo of the strip at S. Carrollton and Tulane shows the transition of the Maison Blanche store at that location. The store opened in 1948, as the company’s first store away from Canal Street. The location appealed to many New Orleanians. Uptowners could come down Carrollton, Mid-City folks were right there, and the folks moving out to Metairie.

Budget Store Transition

As more and more people moved out to Metairie, Maison Blanche followed them. The company opened a store on Airline Highway, in the Airline Village Shopping Center, in 1955. MB Airline was much larger than the Carrollton store, so shoppers went there more. As sales dropped off at Carrollton, the company shifted its focus. They made Carrollton a “budget” store. The company also converted the store in Gentilly, at Elysian Fields and Frenchmen. The Gentilly Woods store made the Frenchmen location redundant.

Interestingly enough, the two stores that replaced the original locations ended up replaced themselves. MB Airline closed after Clearview Mall opened, and MB Gentilly Woods closed after the company opened a store at The Plaza at Lake Forest. You can find the entire story in Maison Blanche Department Stores.

Budget Store Operations

Maison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton was a forerunner of “outlet malls”. Maison Blanche used the stores to sell older merchandise at discounted prices. The store didn’t want deep-discounted items on display right next to the new merchandise, so the bargains were at the Budget Stores.

In addition to discontinued new merchandise, theMaison Blanche Budget Store Carrollton (and Gentilly) also sold the company’s “debits”, the items returned by customers. When a customer returned an item, the department’s managers would determine if they could simply put that blouse or pair of trousers back in stock, or if it was worn/damaged. If the item wouldn’t work back in stock, it would be considered a “debit” and returned to Canal Street. From there, the assistant buyers evaluated the items again. Items that could be sold at a discount made their way to the budget stores.

Tulane and Carrollton

This Franck Studios photo shows MB Carrollton in the background. Mid-City Lanes is in the foreground. The Walgreens at the end of the strip is barely visible, behind the MB.

Maison Blanche Department Stores
by Edward J. Branley

mb book

On October 30, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building 13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors.

The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character Mr. Bingle, in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Mid-City New Orleans: MB Carrollton, 1952

Mid-City New Orleans: MB Carrollton, 1952

Mid-City New Orleans

mid-city new orleans

Shopping center at S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues, 1952

Mid-City New Orleans

Mid-City began to grow as a neighborhood in the 1860s. That’s when the New Orleans City Railroad extended the Canal Street streetcar line to the cemeteries. By the beginning of the 20th Century, the Sicilian community outgrew the French Quarter and Faubourg Treme. So, they moved to Mid-City. The New Basin Canal attracted businesses and light industry along its banks. Consequently, those businesses made the neighborhood attractive for others who didn’t need to be on the canal but benefited from the being in the neighborhood. Naturally, workers at these businesses wanted a shorter commute. So, families left the city’s “original” neighborhoods.

Therefore, by World War II, Mid-City New Orleans was an “established” neighborhood. St. Anthony of Padua Parish, on Canal and S. St. Patrick Streets, was twenty-five years old. So, the corner of  Canal Street and Carrollton Avenue was already a commercial nexus. As the war effort began to ramp up in the first half of 1942, more folks moved to Mid-City. Higgins Industries opened several plants, in Lakeview and near City Park. More families moved closer to work.

Post-War Mid-City

New Orleans enjoyed the post-war boom, like the rest of the nation. Therefore, men and women took advantage of the GI Bill to continue their educations. They built houses in the suburbs with Veterans Administration loans. The Interstate Highway System didn’t exist in the late forties. The main access to Metairie was US 61, Airline Highway. Developers knew the city planned to fill in the New Basin Canal. That meant getting to Mid-City from Jefferson Parish via Airline was even easier. Tulane Avenue connected the CBD with Mid-City, Airline Highway connected the ‘burbs with the neighborhood. A new commercial nexus was born.

Maison Blanche recognized this connection. The store’s management knew the Airline-Tulane-CBD route made it simple to get to Canal Street. While that was appealing, going to town was still a bit of a drive. Maison Blanche expanded to Mid-City New Orleans in 1948. So, they opened the store you see in this photograph. As a result, after 51 years of operation on Canal Street, Maison Blanche became a chain.

MB Carrollton sold the same merchandise as the main store. The store’s delivery network already reached out across the metro area. The second store allowed shoppers to cut back on their drive from Metairie.

Beyond Mid-City

Maison Blanche continued to expand beyond the CBD and Mid-City. D. H. Holmes followed MB, reaching out to the suburbs as well. Krauss Department Store chose not to. Krauss remained a one-store business until is closure in 1997. Maison Blanche Department Stores no longer exist. While malls dominated in the 1960s and 1970s, MB Carrollton became a budget store. The Mid-City location is now a Nike shoe/clothing outlet. The main store on Canal Street is a hotel.

mb book

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

Maison Blanche Department Stores

On October 30, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman―with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman―opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building―13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors. The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character “Mr. Bingle,” in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.