Mid-City Railroading in the late 1940s
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Angelo Brocato, Sr, founder of Brocato’s Ice Cream
Brocato Family tomb, Metairie Cemetery
Angelo Brocato, Sr – Ice Cream and Pastries
Angelo Brocato, Sr, was born in Cefalù, Sicily, on May 25, 1875. At the age of twelve, he apprenciced in an ice cream shop in the Sicilian city of Palermo. Brocato emigrated to the United States, coming to New Orleans, where he plied his trade. He soon opened his own shop, on Decatur Street. At this time the Italian groceries like Central and Progress were anchors on Decatur Street. The French Market was across the street. So, this combination was perfect for an ice cream shop. That shop grew in popularity. By 1905, Brocato needed a bigger location. He moved the shop to the 500 block of Ursulines Street. Brocato’s clientele kept growing, to the point where Angelo moved the shop in 1921, to 612-614 Ursulines. This location is now occupied by the Croissant d’Or coffee shop. You can still Angelo Brocato’s name in the tiles at the front door.
From the French Quarter to Mid-City
Brocato’s sold their ice cream and pastries at 612-614 Ursulines from 1921 to 1978. The family purchased a building on N. Carrollton Avenue that year. Much of the Sicilian community moved away from the French Quarter to Mid-City in the early 1900s. Still, Brocato’s stayed for over fifty years. Now, the shop is a Mid-City institution. Angelo Sr’s ice cream, along with his Italian Ices, fig cookies, cannolis, and other goodies define Mid-City. The French Quarter store closed in 1981. The family returned to the Quarter in 1984. Brocato’s opened a second store in the Lower Pontalba Building, at the corner of Rue Chartres and Rue St. Ann. This shop closed after the 1984 World’s Fair closed.
Angelo Brocato, Sr passed away on July 25, 1946. He was buried in Metairie Cemetery. His son, Angelo, Jr, continued to run the business until his death in 1982. Angelo Jr is also buried in the family tomb.
The Brocato tomb is typical of many “double tombs” in New Orleans. The BVM statue is a common addition on tombs owned by Catholic families.