Mr. Bingle 1952 – Maison Blanche Canal Street

Mr. Bingle 1952 – Maison Blanche Canal Street

Mr. Bingle 1952 – Jingle, Jangle Jingle

mr. bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Canal Street, December, 1952

Mr. Bingle 1952

In 1947, Emile Alline was the display-window manager for Maison Blanche. He took his family up to Chicago that fall, for a family trip. While up there, he applied a professional eye to Christmas displays along the “Miracle Mile.” Alline decided his store needed a Christmas character. He sketched a short snowman. Snowman? Not quite right. How about holly wings, and an inverted ice cream cone for a hat? Now Alline had a snow elf!

Mr. Alline brought the concept to MB management. The little guy captivated everyone. The store featured Mr. Bingle all over its print advertising for Christmas, 1958.

Christmas Spokes-Elf

Mr. Bingle hooked New Orleans. While the other Canal Street stores did Christmas displays, they didn’t have a character. So, Maison Blanche presented Mr. Bingle. Kids loved him. By 1952, the store displayed Mr. Bingle right up front!

Maison Blanche grew from the single store on Canal Street in the post-war 1940s. They opened stores on S. Carrollton Avenue in Mid City and Frenchmen Street in Gentilly. Mr. Bingle flew out to those locations! So, when Alline commissioned the Mr. Bingle puppets, they visited all the stores.

Canal Street in 1952

Maison Blanche anchored the 900 block of Canal Street for almost a century. S. J. Shwartz built the “MB Building” in 1908. So, by 1952, it stood for over forty years. Shoppers entered on the corner of Canal and Dauphine Streets. The entrance on the left of the photo (behind the bus) led to the office building. The first five floors of the building were retail space. The next seven housed a number of businesses. Many doctors set up shop in the MB building.

Santa and Mr. Bingle look down here from the second floor. So, that area was stockrooms. Eventually, the store covered up the second floor windows with year-round displays.

Maison Blanche Department Stores

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

Mr. Bingle tells his story in Chapter 3! Buy the book here!

Single-truck Streetcars on Canal Street, 1905 #streetcarmonday

Single-truck Streetcars on Canal Street, 1905 #streetcarmonday

Single-truck Streetcars were the first electrics in New Orleans

single-truck streetcars

Single-truck streetcars on Canal Street. Teunisson photo, ~1905

Single-Truck Streetcars

Streetcar operating companies phased out mule power in the mid-1890s. So, the single-truck streetcars replaced the “bobtails”, as the first electric cars in the city. “Single-truck” means one set of four wheels. The cars were relatively small. Companies like NO&CRR and NOCRR initially purchased Brill streetcars. They switched to Ford, Bacon, and Davis single-trucks in 1894. The car on the left, running on Prytania, is a Brill. The car running on Annunciation is a FB&D. .

The Prytania Line

The New Orleans City Railroad Company opened the Prytania line on June 8, 1861. The line started at the Clay Monument, Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. Cars ran initially from Canal, up Camp, to Prytania, to Toledano. NOCRR expanded the line in 1883. Prytania ran up to Exposition Boulevard at Audubon Park. Therefore, it dropped off riders at the Cotton Exposition. So, mule-drawn streetcars operated on Prytania at this time.

While the New Orleans and Carrollton RR operated on St. Charles Line, Prytania became popular, because of Touro Infirmary and the Garden District. The streetcars dropped folks off right at the hospital. Many people living in the Garden District took Prytania in for Canal Street shopping. They avoided the crowds on St. Charles. People called Prytania the “Silk Stocking Line” because of the privileged riders.

Prytania’s first electrics were Brills.  until the 1920s. The line switched to Jackson and Sharp single-truck streetcars. In 1915, New Orleans Railway and Light ran double-truck “Palace” cars on Prytania. The arch roofs eventually replaced those streetcars in the 1920s. NOPSI discontinued the Prytania line in 1932.

Annunciation

Annunciation serviced the uptown riverfront area and the Irish Channel. The Crescent City Railroad Company opened the line in 1863. New Orleans Traction Company electrified Annunciation in 1895. The line started at Canal and Camp, then up Tchoupitoulas, then Annunciation. At Louisiana, the line turned back towards the river and terminated at Tchoupitoulas. The return was different, because of one-way streets. From Louisiana, it ran down Chippewa, then Race, then Annunciation, Erato, Race, Camp, Calliope, then St. Charles to Canal.

The first electrics on Annunciation were Brills painted yellow with brown trim. FB&Ds replaced the brills in the late 1890s. Palace double-trucks operated on Annunciation around 1910. The line merged with Laurel in 1917.

The Mercier Building

The coupla visible in the top right of the photograph is the top of the Mercier Building. Simon J. Shwartz operated his Maison Blanche Department Store in that building. He tore down the building in 1908. The building we know as the Maison Blanche Building (Now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel New Orleans) dates from that time.

Maison Blanche Bicentennial – Canal Street Shopping – 1976

Maison Blanche Bicentennial – Canal Street Shopping – 1976

Maison Blanche Bicentennial

Maison Blanche Bicentennial

Maison Blanche Canal, 1976. Leon Winer photo, courtesy Dave Winer.

Maison Blanche Bicentennial

So much 200 in 1976! Like just about every business in New Orleans, Maison Blanche went all-out in 1976 for the country’s 200th birthday. While MB decorated the front of the chain’s flagship store on Canal Street, they also promoted the celebration with sales.

Maison Blanche Bicentennial was a big deal. Advertising and Marketing departments don’t turn down an opportunity to turn a milestone into a sale. They’re in business to get customers in the door.

1776-1976

The Bicentennial was a hot mess of overkill to seventeen-year old me. I graduated from Brother Martin High School in May of 1976. I started the University of New Orleans in June. My senior prom favor has a tag line, “Bicentennial Class”, and the red-and-gold tassel on my mortarboard has a Liberty Bell dangling from it. To say we’d grown weary of All Things Bicentennial would be an understatement.

Take when Professor Ambrose wanted to change the name of the Education Building, on the west side of the UNO campus, for example. Even though the History Department is part of the College of Liberal Arts, the school placed them in the Education Building. Ambrose was the kind of man who took things like the Bicentennial seriously. He led a campaign in the University Sen Save & Exit ate to rename the building. The university listened, renaming it the Bicentennial Education Center.

We shook our heads. Looking back, forty-two years later, it’s not so bad.

Canal Street, 1976

Maison Blanche Bicentennial, part of a bigger red, white, and blue picture. Holmes, Godchaux’s, and Krauss also decorated for the celebration that summer. Some of the smaller stores also added flags and bunting to their facades. The contrast between the purple, green and gold of Carnival, turning into the patriotic displays made for odd combinations.

Transit in 1976

The streetcars departed from Canal Street in 1964. They wouldn’t return until 2004. Maison Blanche Bicentennial meant buses in the “Canal Street Zone”. Most of the time their air conditioning worked. The bus experience at that time was OK. Even though NOPSI operated the system, things ran fairly smoothly. Many people depended on the buses to get to and from the CBD for work.

Working at MB

I missed Maison Blanche Bicentennial as an employee. I started at the Clearview Mall store in 1977. Things were less red, white, and blue by then.

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

a. shwartz and son

The Touro Buildings, ca. 1860

Abraham Shwartz, Canal Street

I didn’t research Abraham Shwartz too deeply when I wrote the Maison Blanche book. His son, Simon, was the main character there, being the founder of the department store chain. So, I made a few notes, wrote out the family tree, and got on with telling the story of MB.

A few years after the MB book, which came out in 2012, I developed an idea for a fiction project. It’s set in the 1860s in New Orleans. That idea came from an illustration I came across while researching the BOSH book. My fictional main character has encounters with fictional versions of real-life folks, and he told me that Abraham Shwartz was one of them.

Researching the shopkeeper

A. Shwartz and Son

Child’s coat, sold by A. Shwartz and Son, 1858. (Courtesy Civil War Talk user “RobertP”)

So, I needed to learn more about Abraham. I knew he was proprietor of the store that bore his name, in the 700 block of Canal Street. I knew he passed away in 1892, after that store burned in a massive fire that took out many of the shops in the Touro buildings. I needed to learn more about Abraham in 1860.

Off to the Internet I went! I still haven’t found a decent photo or portrait of Abraham. I found interesting things about the store, though. This girl’s coat was one of them. I found it on the site, Civil War Talk. Here’s the original post:

18thVa., several posts back I posted a picture of a g-g grandmother taken about 1868. Her daughter was my g-grandmother and I have a coat she wore as a child before the CW. The tie to this thread is that is was purchased by her father on a trip to New Orleans (their place was in N. La.) according to the label from A. Shwartz and Son, 161 Canal Street, NOLA, and a card pinned inside reads that she wore it in 1858 when she would have been 7 years old. The only reference to Abraham Schwartz Dry goods was after the war when he was located in the 700 block of Canal, and that it burned, he died, and his son reopened the mercantile business across the street that became Maison Blanche.

700 Block – Touro Buildings

The original poster has the addresses confused, which is not uncommon. Until 1900, Canal Street addresses started with “1” and went by building. After 1900, the addressed followed traditional block numbers. Therefore, 161 Canal Street became part of the 700 block.

Back to the coat! While this isn’t an image of Mr. Abraham, it’s still something from the time frame of the fiction project. You just know it’ll end up in the writing.

 

Maison Blanche Department Stores

by Edward J. Branley

mb book

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

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.

Retail Giants – Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival – FRIDAY!

Retail Giants – Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival – FRIDAY!

Retail Giants

Retail Giants at the Tennessee Williams Festival!

The Tennessee Williams / New Orleans Literary Festival is a fantastic annual event. It’s in the French Quarter. I’ve been asked to be part of a panel titled Retail Giants. The panel will be on Friday, March 23, at 10am. It will be in the Queen Anne Ballroom of the Hotel Monteleone.

The Festival runs from Wednesday, March 21 to Sunday, March 25. Festival HQ is open on the Mezzanine level of the Hotel Monteleone. The hotel is at 214 Royal Street. HQ operates from Thursday-Sunday, from 9am to 4pm. There’s lots of interesting talks, discussion panels, and other events. Check out the full festival schedule.

Retail Giants – The Panel

Here’s the blurb on the panel:

 

New Orleans is a nostalgic town that cherishes its diehard institutions, particularly the retailers who became household names over multiple generations. David Johnson of the New Orleans Museum of Art moderates a panel of authors whose work chronicles where New Orleanians made groceries, furnished homes, and browsed for bric-a-brac. David Cappello is the biographer of John G. Schwegmann; Ed Branley writes about Krauss Department Store, and John Magill is the author of a recent book about that popular commercial and social thoroughfare, The Incomparable Magazine Street.

I’m looking forward to this. The authors know their stuff! So, I’ll be the lightweight in this group.

Krauss, Maison Blanche, and Streetcars!

mb book

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

I was invited to participate on this panel because of the latest book, Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store, but my earlier book, Maison Blanche Department Stores, fits the subject wonderfully. I’ll be talking both Krauss and MB, and how retail evolved on Canal Street. There’s lots of New Orleans history here, as Canal Street was the nexus of many separate communities, as folks came downtown to shop. Therefore, we’ll talk a bit about streetcars as well, since they were an integral part of shopping on Canal and Magazine Streets.

There will be a lot of stories and fun on Friday. I’m looking forward to seeing y’all there.

Canal Street Christmas Parade 1953

Canal Street Christmas Parade 1953

Canal Street Christmas Parade

Canal Street Christmas Parade

Ford Cars parade up Canal Street, Christmastime, 1953 (Franck photo)

Canal Street Christmas Parade in 1953

New-model Fords parade up Canal Street, Christmastime, 1953. We’ve had numerous versions of the Canal Street Christmas parade over the decades. Commercial parades such as this don’t happen like they used to, mainly because permit costs have risen dramatically. The modern non-Carnival parade in New Orleans is the “wedding second line” we see almost daily in the Spring and Fall. This is where a just-married couple stops their motorcade three or four blocks from their reception venue, then have a second line parade from there to the hotel/restaurant. It’s good fun and easy money for the bands, even if everyone else complains about stopped traffic in the Quarter.

Canal Street in 1953

Lots of interesting stuff going on in this photo. This is the first-generation “Big Bingle” on Maison Blanche’s flagship store. Mister Bingle is only six years old at this point. This is why he’s teamed up with Santa Claus. As Bingle got older, locals pushed Santa aside. For the first few years of Mr. Bingle (Emile Alline of MB created him in 1947), he was a drawing in advertisements. Then the Bingle puppets appeared. Oscar Isentrout pulled the strings on the puppet.

Lights cover the front of the MB building, all around Santa and Mr. Bingle. Those lights disappeared in the 1960s. The store introduced decorations along the front of the store at that time. There are no front windows on the second floor of the store. Christmas decorations adorned those big front panels.

WSMB

Canal Street Christmas Parade

Detail of WSMB sign

Another interesting item in this photo is the WSMB sign. I’ve got a bunch of MB photos, and this is the first time I’ve noticed this sign. My MB book includes a wide shot of Santa and Mr. Bingle from this time. The WSMB sign is right in front of the “Office Building” entrance. That entrance stood at the lake-side end of the building. It opened into a lobby with elevators that took folks up to the office floors above the five floors of retail space. The radio station was on the thirteenth floor. When the elevator doors opened, visitors looked into a big glass window, into the studio. This ground-floor entrance is the main entrance of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Fords

I’m awful at identifying automobiles, so if you can spot the types of cars in the parade, please do in comments!

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.