Canal Street 1958 is a view from the roof of the Jung Hotel.
Canal Street 1958
Franck Studios photo of Canal Street, looking inbound towards the river. The Franck Studios photographer stands on the rooftop of the Jung Hotel, at 1500 Canal. Krauss Department Store stands in the 1201 block to the left, with the Hotel New Orleans in the 1300 block on the right. The Saenger Theater is across Basin Street from Krauss, with the iconic buildings of the 901 block (Audubon Building, Kress, and Maison Blanche) in the background, left. The studio shot this photo in 1958 or 1959.
Krauss in the 1950s
This photo offers a great view of the expansion progress of Krauss. The original store, built by Leon Fellman in 1903, consists of the two-story section fronting Canal Street. Fellman acquired the property in 1899. He built that first 2-story section and leased it to the Krauss Brothers. The brothers acquired the property behind the building, along Basin Street. In 1911, they built a five-story expansion. You can see the line/seam after four windows on each floor. Leon Heymann (the “Krauss Brother-in-Law”) built the third portion of the store in 1921. Heymann continued expanding the store until it filled the block between Canal and Iberville Streets.
While HNOC dates this picture at “approximately 1955,” the streetcar tracks narrow it down for us. Note the two-track configuration in the Canal Street neutral ground. With streetcar operation limited to Canal and St. Charles, the city ripped up the two outside tracks on Canal. The lines using those tracks had been converted to buses by 1948. So, Canal operated on the two tracks running from Liberty Place to City Park Avenue. One block of the inbound outside track remained, between Carondelet Street and St. Charles Avenue. St. Charles streetcars turned for their outbound run on that track.
The city planted the palm trees in this photo as part of the 1957 “beautification project.” They also built planter boxes along the neutral ground. Unfortunately, those palm trees only lasted about three years, because of a couple of cold winters.
1201 Canal Street viewed from the Elks Building.
1201 Canal Street
John Tibule Mendes took this photo of Krauss Department Store and the train station on 30-March-1919. Mendes stood on the roof of the Elk’s Home, just across Canal Street, at 127 Elks Place. Leon Fellman built the store’s first two floors in 1903. The five-story addition behind that first building dates to 1911.
To the left of the store stands the offices of the Texas Company, better known as Texaco. The billboard on the roof displays the company’s familiar star logo. That site is now a rental car parking lot. Texaco would later acquire the block at Canal and Marais Street. They built the “green building” there, as their headquarters, in the 1960s.
To the right of Krauss is Terminal Station. The Frisco Railroad formed the New Orleans Terminal Company in 1907 to build the station, which was completed in 1908. While there isn’t any documentation to this effect, I’m certain that Fellman either knew about the railroad’s plans, or speculated correctly, when he purchased the properties in the 1201 block of Canal in 1899. A small station for the Spanish Fort train stood in the Basin Street neutral ground. The right-of-way established, it was easy for the railroad to build out from there. The station bears the name of Southern Railway in this photo. Southern acquired the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad, along with New Orleans Terminal Company, in 1916.
The smokestack, background right, marks the location of the Consumers Electric Company. The company leased the smokestack for advertising. It features Regent Shoes at this time. Regent Shoes aggressively placed ads on large outdoor fixtures and mis-matched wall space around the city.
While the Storyville District officially closed in 1917, many of the houses just to the left of Krauss remained in business, two years later. Anderson’s Saloon and the higher-end “sporting clubs” stood behind Krauss.
Krauss 1938 shows the badge of the Eighth National Eucharistic Congress.
The Catholic Church in the United States held its Eighth National Eucharistic Congress in New Orleans. The Congress ran from 17-October to 20-October, 1938. Since Krauss Department Store stood next to the Southern Railway passenger terminal on Canal Street, the store put up the logo for the Congress. Yes, the Krauss brothers were Jewish. Yes, they turned the store over in 1920 to their Jewish brother-in-law, Leon Heymann. No, that didn’t matter, when all those Catholics got off trains, emerging into the Canal Street sunlight, next to their store.
The Catholic Church holds large events called Eucharistic Congresses. While synods and such are political/business events, a Eucharistic Congress is for the faithful. These events included meetings, seminars, lectures, and, naturally, Mass. The ultimate event for a Congress was usually a big, outdoor Mass for hundreds, even thousands of attendees.
Shopping and Trains
Krauss 1938 promoted the Eucharistic Congress that year. The Southern Railway ran a special train, from Washington, DC, to New Orleans, prior to the opening of the Congress. That special run transported Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and others from the Northeast to New Orleans for the event. Other trains brought clergy and lay attendees to the city from across the country.
While trains converged upon all five passenger stations, Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets concerned Krauss 1938 the most. This passenger terminal serviced trains from Southern Railway and Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio. So, Catholics from all destinations in those systems ended their journey to the Congress on Canal Street. Right next to Krauss.
As attendees got off the trains, many naturally realized they forget this or that from home. A full-service department store right next to the station attracted these folks. Guests at nearby hotels like the Roosevelt walked over to Krauss for shopping and souveniers. That huge logo welcomed them with open arms.
Krauss 1903 was the first year of the store’s operation.
Front-page ad in The Daily Picayune for Krauss Department Store, May 15, 1903. The store opened to the public in April of 1903. So, at this point, Krauss was about a month old.
The ad features a “Special Sale of House Furnishings,” mostly linens and other bedding accessories. The Krauss Brothers had been in the dry goods business for years, prior to opening their store. Their network of wholesale connections along the east coast was extensive. Throughout the store’s history, the company acquired lots of merchandise for quick sale.
Krauss appeared quite different in May, 1903, than it did when it closed in October, 1997. The original store was just the two-story front section, facing Canal Street, in the 1201 block. Leon Fellman purchased the buildings fronting the 1201 block in the late 1880s. He sat on the property for about ten years. At that time, Rampart Street, the northernmost part of the French Quarter, stood as a hard boundary for retailers.
When Fellman learned that the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad planned to build a passenger rail terminal in the next block, he tore down the existing buildings. Prior to 1908, the railroad terminal at Basin Street connected Canal Street with Spanish Fort. The NO&NE operated out of the terminal on Press and Royal Streets, in the Ninth Ward. The move to Canal Street promised to boost the neighborhood. The 1201 location marked the entrance to the Storyville District.
Fellman built the initial two-story store. Since he already had his own store at 800 Canal (corner Carondelet), Fellman convinced the Krauss brothers to lease the property. Two of the four brothers operated a store in the 801 block of Canal, closing it in 1901. The four came together to operate the store at 1201. They turned the store over to their brother-in-law, Leon Heymann, in 1920.
Krauss warehouse building on Iberville Street supported the store.
Krauss warehouse building
The Krauss Company used this seven-story building at 201 N. Front Street (Front and Iberville) as warehouse space in the 1930s to the 1960s. The store, located at 1201 Canal, was only in the block between Canal and Iberville at the time. The building was originally part of the Louisiana Sugar Exchange complex, until that business closed in the 1930s. The photo is undated, but the Frank Studios woody at the bottom right places it in the early 1950s.
The Louisiana Sugar Exchange stood on Iberville and Front Streets from 1883ish until the early 1930s. The seven-story warehouse stood next to a ten-story “filter house.” Sugar syrup required filtration to remove impurities. Large plants use gravity to filter the product. Once the syrup was filtered, the plants processed it. They barreled the product as molasses, storing it in the warehouse. Molasses was easy to ship.
By the 1930s, sugar producers moved away from downtown New Orleans. They built larger processing facilities up or down the river. The filter house and warehouse stood unused.
Leon Heymann and Krauss
Krauss Department Store opened on Canal Street in 1903. The company expanded from the original two stories in 1911, adding a five-story extension. Leon Heymann, President of the Krauss company (and brother-in-law to the original four Krauss brothers) eventually acquired the entire 1201 block of Canal Street, back to Iberville. He then acquired the block behind the store, from Iberville to Bienville Streets. While he planned a service/warehouse building for that second block, World War II slowed that down. The second building didn’t happen until 1952. So, the warehouse space down by the river was an important part of the business.
Into the 1960s
The Krauss Company sold the 201 N. Front building after the completion of the service building behind the store. The 201 N. front building changed hands a few times in the 1960s and 1970s. Folks may remember the building as the location of “Victoria Station,” a train-themed restaurant where diners ate in railcars (as well as in the building).
The old warehouse building now houses the One11 Hotel, and its Batture Bistro and Bar.
This photo is via HNOC. Tip of the hat to Mike Scott for his 2020 article about the building in Da Paper.
Krauss discount shoes, a staple of the department store.
Krauss discount shoes
Ad in the Times-Picayune, 27-March-1955, for Krauss Department Store. Krauss announced a new “Discount Shoe Department” here, in a Sunday edition of Da Paper. While I usually prefer to make blog posts that focus on images, maps, etc., there are times when a newspaper ad reveals a lot about the culture of a New Orleans institution. Even Krauss discount shoes.
$2 shoes! This is the stuff for which Krauss was legend. It goes back to the four founding brothers. The Krauss brothers were bachelors. They clearly enjoyed going off on jaunts to New York periodically. On those outings, they scored merchandise from inside the city’s garment district.
Fire sales offered opportunities for Krauss. The usual procedure was to write off an entire lot of goods if it came close to a store or warehouse fire. Sure, a percentage of the lot had to be thrown out. The manufacturer or store recovered the value of the entire lot, however. Insurance covered most, if not all, of the merchandise.
Send it to New Orleans
It wasn’t just fire sales. Stores along the East Coast wrote off things that didn’t sell, weren’t as stylish, etc. Deep-discounting such merchandise didn’t help. Customers avoided those items. Women preferred to wear popular items (imagine that). Going to church in shoes everyone knows were deep-discounted because they didn’t sell? Nah.
The brothers rolled with this. Women in New Orleans never saw those shoes, dresses, etc. Wearing discount shoes to Canal Street? Not a problem. Who knew? And the price was right.
Into the 1950s
So, the brothers jumped at opportunities. The store gained the reputation of quality goods at affordable prices. The company adopted the casual strategy as company policy. While a trip to New York by a Krauss yielded profit, a permanent presence continued it. The company set up a buyer’s office in NYC. The buyer kept his ear to the ground. Krauss jumped at bulk-purchase opportunities.
After the expansion of the store in 1952, this strategy grew. From the original two floors of 1903 to filling out the full block of 1201 Canal, Krauss maintained good warehouse and stockroom space. Then the second building opened in 1952. They moved all the warehouse space to the building between Iberville and Bienville streets. The Canal Street front became more retail floor space. Bring in the $2 shoes!