Streetcar operations on S. Carrollton Avenue in 1913 weren’t all that different than they are today.
Streetcar Operations 1913
New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) #383, outbound on St. Charles Avenue, 1913. Workers surround the car as they do street repairs. The streetcar heads to Carrollton Station as it ends a run on the Prytania line. NORwy&Lt #383 is a single-truck, Ford, Bacon, and Davis (FB&D) streetcar. So these streetcars dominated street rail in New Orleans from 1894, through the 1920s. One FB&D streetcar remains, NORTA #29, the “sand car.” If you see a streetcar running on the St. Charles line that doesn’t look like the classic arch-roofs, it’s likely #29.
The photographer of this image is unidentified, possibly a file photo owned by NOPSI.
Ford, Bacon, and Davis
NORwy&Lt #383 took to the streets in 1894. Both the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad (NO&CRR) and the New Orleans City Railroad (NOCRR) purchased FB&D streetcars. Ford, Bacon, and Davis was an engineering firm. The streetcar operators hired them to help improve the city’s streetcar operations. Electrification required a number of changes. So, as the engineers worked on the system as a whole, they learned a lot about running streetcars here. They designed a single-truck streetcar that would work in all neighborhoods.
So, by 1913, the date of this photo, FB&Ds operated in New Orleans for almost twenty years. That’s nothing for a streetcar, of course. They’re built for 70+ years of operation.
Electrification presented a number of challenges for the streetcar companies. The costs of generating power and running wires along the streetcar routes bankrupted the companies. The city stepped in, helping to re-organize the system. They formed a holding company, New Orleans Traction Company, in 1897 that combined the existing operators. That evolved into a second incarnation of the New Orleans City Railroad Company in 1899. Yet another re-org took place in 1905, when the New Orleans Railway and Light Company took over. By 1922, that company became New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI). NOPSI exists to this day, as Entergy New Orleans. Entergy gave up streetcar operations in 1983, when they turned the transit system over to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.
The large building in the background is Leland University. It was founded in 1870 as Leland College, a school of higher learning for free Black men. The school sustained serious damage in the hurricane of 1915, and moved to Baker, Louisiana.
NOPSI 968 on the South Claiborne Line in 1949
One of the 1923-vintage arch roof streetcars, NOPSI 968 traveling along S. Claiborne Avenue. The streetcar approaches the end of the line
on October 30, 1949. The Claiborne line ran from downtown/CBD out to S. Carrollton Avenue. Photograph by William T. Harry.
South Claiborne Line
New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORy<) opened the South Claiborne line on 22-February-1915. The original route wound its way uptown, but ran all the way on S. Claiborne after 1916:
- Start – Canal and St. Charles
- Up St. Charles to Howard
- Turn from Howard to S. Rampart, then Clio, then S. Claiborne
- Out S. Claiborne to S. Carrollton
- Return the same basic route, going on Erato instead of Clio.
S. Claiborne ran this route from 1916 until it was converted to buses on 5-January-1953. Note that the Claiborne (North) line operated on the “downtown” side of Canal, separate from this line.
S. Claiborne originally operated Ford, Bacon, and Davis streetcars. The FB&D engineering firm designed these streetcars specifically for New Orleans. NOPSI upgraded the line with the 1923 arch roofs. The arch roofs ran on S. Claiborne until it switched to buses.
Neutral Ground operation
While neutral ground operation was common in New Orleans, the S. Claiborne line did it with style. The wide neutral ground on this avenue offered a wonderful view of Uptown/Backatown. As you can see in this photo, the inbound track isn’t visible. It’s out of frame on the right. S. Claiborne and S. Carrollton Avenues serves uptown as a major terminal. The St. Charles line terminates here, as do a number of bus lines, including S. Claiborne.
This streetcar operates on the St. Charles line to this day. It was one of the 35 900-series arch roofs retained by NOPSI when they converted the Canal line to bus service in 1964.
Thanks to Mike Palmieri for sharing this photo!
The Anti-Ewing Ticket 1908 opposed candidates aligned with Robert Ewing.
Anti-Ewing Ticket 1908
Campaign flyer supporting the “Anti-Ewing Ticket” in Louisiana state elections, January 28, 1908. Others on the ticket included Theodore S. Wilkinson (governor), Gustave Weser (10th Ward Democratic State Central Committee), and Robert J. Jaloney, for state senator.
Robert Wilson Ewing
Ewing owned the New Orleans Daily States newspaper.Ewing allied himself with the city’s Regular Democratic Organization (RDO). Ewing was a notable figure in the RDO,
Louisiana was essentially a one-party state since Reconstruction. So, campaigns focused on the Democratic primary. The candidate emerging from the primary almost certainly would defeat the Republican. Additionally, RDO candidates benefited from favorable coverage in Ewing’s newspaper, the New Orleans Daily States. The paper later changed its name to the New Orleans States. The States merged with the New Orleans Item. This merger reduced the number of afternoon newspapers in the city to one. The States-Item later merged with the Times-Picayune, the morning paper.
Ewing also managed the 1908 candidacy of William Jennings Bryant for President of the United States.
Opposition to the RDO
While the RDO wielded great influence. Other Democrats ran against that influence. Since the RDO was strong, opposition candidates focused not on the organization, but on the power behind it. The anti-RDO factions regularly accused the organization of corruption and malfeasance.
It was not uncommon for a candidate to seek both political and party positions. Thomas Harrison, ran for “Single State Tax Collector” for Orleans Parish. Additionally, he sought a seat on the Democratic Party’s State Central Committee.
The 10th Ward
While the city’s Ninth Ward extends downriver from Faubourgs Marigny and Treme, the 10th Ward was Uptown:
The roughly wedge-shaped Ward stretches back from the Mississippi River. The lower boundary is Felicity Street, across which is the 1st Ward, then Martin Luther King Boulevard (formerly Melpomene Street), across which is the 2nd Ward. The upper boundary is First Street, across which lies the 11th Ward.
This flyer is archived at Tulane.
Governor Elect Buddy Roemer at NOCCA, for an event in 1988.
Governor Elect Buddy Roemer
Buddy Roemer made an appearance and spoke at an event at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, on January 18, 1988. At the time, Romer held the Fourth District seat (Shreveport/NW Louisiana), from 1981 to March of 1988. In the Fall of 1987, he chose to challenge Edwin W. Edwards for governor. He won, and became the state’s fifty-second governor, on March 14, 1988.
Roemer as Congressman
While Roemer later switched parties later in his career, he was a Democrat in 1987. In the House of Representatives, Roemer was a “boll weevil.” He embraced much of the agenda of President Ronald Reagan. Additionally, he was openly hostile towards Speaker Tip O’Neil. So, the Democratic caucus denied Roemer choice committee assignments. Congress became a dead end for the ambitious Roemer.
The 1987 governor’s race
Edwin Edwards wound down his third term in the fall of 1987. He declared his intention to run for a fourth term. This was unprecedented in Louisiana. Prior to the re-write of the state constitution, the governor could not succeed himself. Through all of the “Long/Anti-Long” years, the factions traded the governor’s mansion back and fourth every four years. Edwards occupied the office from 1972 to 1980. The new constitution prohibited him from seeking three in a row. So, he sat out the 1979 race, but came back in 1983. By 1987, a number of politicians lined up to take on Edwards, including three Congressmen: Bob Livingston, Billy Tauzin, and Roemer. Roemer emerged from the pack, Edwards realized there was no way he could win the runoff. So, Edwards conceded on election night, leaving Roemer unopposed.
Roemer toured the state as governor-elect in the winter of 1988. One of those stops was at NOCCA, that January.
The New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts offered training in a number of arts:
- Culinary arts
- Creative writing
- Media arts
- Theatre arts
- Visual arts
NOCCA initially operated as an adjunct to a student’s chosen high school. While students completed their basic requirements for high school at their regular school, they divided their time with NOCCA for arts classes. Eventually NOCCA became a fully-accredited high school. The school’s first campus was in Uptown New Orleans. This is where Roemer spoke. In 2000, the school moved to Faubourg Marigny.
Streetcar Ticket for the St. Charles Line
New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad Company streetcar ticket, 1868. (public domain image)
Streetcar Ticket from 1868
Riders paid for their fare in the 1860s by purchasing a streetcar ticket. This was the style of the ticket for the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad Company (NO&CRR) in 1868. While the NO&CRR continued operations through the Southern Rebellion, only one new company the New Orleans City RR Company (NOCRR) operated streetcars during the rebellion years. Streetcar expansion took off in 1866.
The company operated the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, from 1835 to 1902. In addition to St. Charles, the company operated the Poydras-Magazine, Jackson, and Napoleon lines. The NO&CRR absorbed other operating companies throughout the 1870s to the end of the 19th Century.
Streetcar electrification in New Orleans began in the 1890s. The NO&CRR survived until 1902. The remaining operating companies merged into the New Orleans Railway Company at that time. That company re-organized into the New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) in 1905. That consolidated entity became New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) in 1922.
Mule car operation
When the NO&CRR began operations in 1835, St. Charles used steam engines. The smoke and noise generated complaints up and down the line. So, the line was converted to mule-driven operation in the 1850s. The company followed the NOCRR in the 1860s, operating “bobtail” cars from the Johnson Car Company, up to electrification.
Streetcar protests 1862-1867
Streetcars in New Orleans were segregated until 1958. When Louisiana seceded from the union in 1861, many of the white men went off to war. Their jobs around town still had to be done. So, employers hired free men of color. The lines ran “star” cars, which permitted African-Americans to ride, but all other cars were whites-only. Black men experienced difficulty in getting to work. While employers complained to the transit companies, the operators weren’t very responsive. More “star” cars were needed.
The dynamics changed when the Union Army occupied New Orleans in May, 1862. African-Americans protested segregated operation from then until 1867. Hilary McLaughlin-Stonham details those protests in her article, Race and Protest in New Orleans: Streetcar Integration in the Nineteenth Century. It’s worth a read.
Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion – electric with no rails
NOPSI Trackless Trolley on the Magazine line. Undated Franck-Bertacci photo, ~1948-1952
Magazine Street Trackless Trolley Conversion
Riders Digest flyer, 11-February-1948 (courtesy Aaron Handy, III)
New Orleans Public Service, Inc (NOPSI) discontinued streetcars on a number of lines after World War II. Magazine Street was one of these lines. While most lines transitioned to diesel buses, Magazine Street used “trackless trolleys” from 1948 to 1964.
Mules to Electrics to Buses
The Magazine Street line began operation in June, 1861. It used mule-drawn streetcars until 1895. The line electrified in 1895. The first electrics on Magazine were open-vestibule cars that were quickly replaced by single-truck Brills. When the arch roof cars began service on Canal, the 1905-vintage “Palace” cars shifted to Magazine and other upriver-downriver lines. Eventually, the 800-900 series arch roofs operated everywhere in the city.
NOPSI planned to convert streetcars to buses in 1940, but WWII delayed that. The War Department refused the conversions, saying the increased consumption of rubber and diesel fuel were unacceptable.
NOPSI 931 at Arabella Station on Magazine Street, 1947. (Franck-Bertacci Studios, THNOC)
Magazine originally ran outbound on Camp, inbound on Magazine Street. Streetcars ran up to Toledano Street. The direction on Camp and Magazine flipped in the 1920s. Since then, line runs inbound on Magazine Street to St. Andrew. The inbounds turn there onto Sophie Wright Place, then onto Camp Street at Felicity. From there, they run to Canal Street. The end of the line is on Canal and Magazine. Outbound travels all the way up on Magazine, to Audubon Park. Magazine continued past the park, up Broadway to S. Claiborne until 1933. The service cut back to the park when the Freret line opened.
Ripping up the streetcar tracks on Camp Street, 1948 (NOPL)
The government lifted wartime restrictions in 1947. NOPSI discontinued streetcar operations as soon as possible. While West End and other long-haul lines switched to buses, The city ripped up the tracks in after trackless trolleys began operation in February, 1947. The overhead wire remained until 1964.