Bus accident 1950

Bus accident 1950

This bus accident, on the Gentilly line, involves a NOPSI bus, a car, and a building.

bus accident

photo courtesy HNOC

Bus accident 1950

NOPSI 1547, a White Motor Company bus, operating on the Gentilly line. At 6:40 AM on 26-May-1950, Franck Studios documented a bus accident at Royal Street and Elysian Fields Avenue. The bus swerved, possibly having something to do with the white car to the left. The driver crashed the bus into a building. NOPD controlled the scene. Lots of bystanders observe the scene. It’s unclear how many of them were passengers.

The NOPD truck on the right side appears to be a rescue/emergency vehicle. While rescue responded, the closeness of the crowd indicates that passengers exited the vehicle without assistance.

NOPSI 1547 bore the maroon-and-cream livery of buses at the time. The older buses continued operation until into the 1970s, mostly on neighborhood lines.

The Gentilly line

NOPSI inaugurated the Gentilly transit line in 1926. The 800- and 900-series arch roof streetcars traveled the line from its opening until 1948. NOPSI discontinued streetcars in 1948. White Motor Company buses replaced streetcars at that time.

The Gentilly line ran from Canal Street, down Bourbon to Pauger, then Dauphine, then Franklin. The streetcars ran out to Dreux Avenue on Franklin. The return was Franklin to Royal to Canal. So, this bus accident occurred on the inbound run. The line was later renamed to Franklin.

Servicing the war effort

The Gentilly line brought workers out to the military posts and factories on the Lakefront in the 1940s. Riders rode the streetcar to Gentilly Boulevard, or possibly to the end of the line at Dreux. They transferred to the “Bomber Base” bus line. That bus ran to the lakefront. Bomber Base received its name because the Army posted a squadron of coastal defense aircraft there. The planes used Lakefront Airport, and the unit was posted where the FBI and military reserve buildings are now.

Desire Line 1978

Desire Line 1978

The Desire line operated as bus service in 1978.

desire line

Desire Line

Photo of a NOPSI bus on the Desire line in 1978. Here’s Aaron’s caption from Vintage New Orleans Transit:

Inbound NOPSI Flxible New Look bus 325, a Streetbus Named Desire-Florida, crosses Saint Ann Street on Decatur Street. Notice the standee window with a billboard promoting WDSU-TV. May 1978.

New Look buses operated across the city in the 1970s. Their air-conditioning was fantastic. The buses skirted the French Quarter, connecting back-of-town neighborhoods with Canal Street, via N. Rampart and Decatur Streets.

Mid-70s bus rides

I rode a lot of NOPSI buses in the mid-1970s. Living in Metairie and attending high school in Gentilly meant several transfers to get home. As a rule, my bus travel went East to West.

Exam days at Brother Martin High School offered opportunities for exploration. Afternoon or early evening bus rides involved getting to Canal Street and City Park Avenue as quickly as possible. Fisnished at 10am? Different story.

Travel to the CBD

Rides home started at either Gentilly Blvd. or Mirabeau Ave. Carrollton to Esplanade to the Veterans started on Gentilly. Cartier to Lake Vista to Lakeshore started on Mirabeau. Those weren’t the only options, though. With some free time, why not pick up the Canal bus closer to the start of its outbound run?

French Quarter Periphery

Step into one of those New Look buses running on the Elysian Fields line. Drop in a quarter, and ride it in. The bus ran down Elysian Fields Avenue to N. Peters Street. From there, a right-turn onto N. Peters. Then that street merged into Decatur Street, than back out to N. Peters again. End of the line at Canal.

Elysian Fields, Desire, and Franklin, along with a few other lines, skirted the Quarter in the 1970s. This is because the City Council declared that full-sized buses operating in the interior of the Quarter were a bad idea. For generations, streetcars rolled inbound on Royal Street, outbound on Bourbon. Buses followed that route after NOPSI discontinued streetcar operation on all but St. Charles and Canal. While streetcars were noisy and slowed down traffic, they didn’t emit diesel fumes. Buses literally gassed out the neighborhood.

There were other arguments for the restrictions, most notably from the Fire Department. Big vehicles in the Quarter make getting to the scene of a fire all that more difficult. So, when the proposal to alter the routes came up, it seemed reasonable to most. After all, most riders of those lines hung on until Canal, anyway.


NOPSI 943 Departing Canal Station #StreetcarSaturday

NOPSI 943 Departing Canal Station #StreetcarSaturday

NOPSI 943 departing Canal Station, a month before the Canal line converted to buses.

nopsi 943 departing canal station

NOPSI 943 departing Canal Station

The 1923-vintage arch roof cars operated on the St. Charles and Canal lines in the early 1960s. This photo shows car 943 departing Canal Station on April 24, 1964. NOPSI 943 spent the night on the outdoor track next to the station’s buildings. The operator eases the streetcar into the Canal Street neutral ground, for another day of moving New Orleanians.

Canal Station

Canal Station serviced both buses and streetcars in 1964. Warren Easton Senior High looms in the background. Buses rest in the lot between the streetcar facilities and the school. NORD owned that bus parking for decades. A baseball park occupied that block. NOPSI acquired it in the 1930s. The block originally provided outdoor space for streetcars. As the company converted transit routes from streetcars to buses, the block became bus parking.

The buildings comprising Canal Station date back to 1861. NOPSI’s stewardship of the station left a great deal to be desired. The company adopted a policy of “demolition by neglect” with respect to streetcars. By 1959, the company sold the city on eliminating streetcars altogether. When neighborhood groups along the St. Charles line learned of this, they forced a compromise. They agreed to allow NOPSI to convert the Canal line without opposition, so long as the company continued streetcar operation on St. Charles.

Bus Facility

The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority demolished the Canal Station complex in the 1990s. They built a bus storage and maintenance facility on they site. NORTA returned the Canal line to streetcar operation in 2004. They installed new track on the line. NORTA also built a new streetcar barn behind the bus facility. Streetcars enter and exit the barn via tracks right across from Warren Easton, on N. Gayoso.

The iconic “Public Service” sign was similar to the one at Carrollton Station, on Willow Street, uptown.

Thanks to Aaron Handy, III, for sharing this photo on Facebook.


Flixible buses ended the Canal streetcar line

Flixible buses ended the Canal streetcar line

Flixible buses that ended the Canal Streetcar.

flixible buses

Flixible buses

Aaron Handy III posted this photo a while back:

“Inbound NOPSI Flxible New Look 194, assigned to Canal-Cemeteries, and a piggybacking colleague, both of the 1964 F2D6V-401-1 fleet (194 was next-to-last of the batch), waits at the corner of Canal and Carondelet Streets. May 1975.”

Those green buses are how NOPSI convinced transit riders to give up on the Canal Streetcar. In the late 1950s/early 60s, to get to downtown from Lakeview, you rode the West End bus to City Park Avenue. From there, you transferred to the Canal Streetcar. Hot or cold, rain or shine, you had to switch. In 1962-1963, NOPSI pitched the city and the public with running air-conditioned buses on West End and Canal Blvd. The commuter could board a bus near home and ride in a/c until their downtown stop. No transfer in Mid-City. No sweaty, crowded streetcar. Men in suits and women in stockings arrived ready for work. While there were activists in May of 1964 who tried to stop the conversion, they were way too late to the game. The city approved the plan, most of the ridership agreed, and all the activists could do was sacrifice the Canal line to save St. Charles (their primary goal anyway).

Going home from school

As stated in Aaron’s caption, the 1964 Flixibles were still operating in 1975. That’s when I was at Brother Martin High, 1971-1976. One of the options for getting home was connecting with the Canal Street lines. NOPSI offered the choice of taking the Carrollton line to Canal Street. The other choice was the Broad line to Canal. So, from Broad and Canal or Carrollton and Canal (next to the Manuel’s Hot Tamales stand), we connected outbound.

NOPSI operated three Canal Street lines at the time:

  • Cemeteries, which terminated at City Park Avenue.
  • Lake Vista (via Canal Blvd), which went up Canal Blvd, along Lakeshore Drive, and terminated at Spanish Fort.
  • Lakeshore (via Pontchartrain Blvd), which went up West End Blvd outbound, returning via Pontchartrain Blvd, inbound.

We chose any of the three, since they all passed the connecting corners.

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19 – Golden Age of Canal Street

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19 – Golden Age of Canal Street

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19

Zoom Talk 2020-03-19


I’ve presented this talk to several groups in the last year or so. With everyone holed up because of Covid-19, I did the talk yesterday (19-March) via Zoom. It’s a bit long, because I was sorting out the use of Zoom, so you’ll need to fast-forward through the first 20 minutes of the talk to get to its actual beginning.

Also, TIL: it’s too long for YouTube. I’ll edit out that first portion and get it up there over the weekend. If you’d like to view it now, the link will let you download the MP4 version.



Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly before the Seminary

Riders wait for the Broad line at a bus stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Broad line bus stop Iroquois Street at Gentilly Boulevard

Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Bus stop at Gentilly Blvd. and Iroquois Street, 10-Jun-1946. This Franck Studios photo has a court docket number in the corner. I haven’t looked up why NOPSI lawyers hired their go-to photographers to shoot this location yet.

Post-WWII Gentilly

There wasn’t much in Gentilly, below Franklin Avenue, at this time. In May of 1946, the Southern Baptist Convention upgraded the New Orleans Bible College to a seminary. The increased interest in the school motivated the SBC. They moved the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to its present location, directly across the street from this bus stop, in the 1950s.

The Broad Street line ran across town, from out here in Gentilly to Lowerline Street, uptown. Folks studying at NOBTS and their families at this time took the Broad bus to Franklin Avenue. They transferred to the Gentilly streetcar line, heading inbound, to get downtown. NOPSI discontinued the Gentilly streetcar line in 1957. The Franklin Avenue bus line replaced the streetcars.

The Broad line offered a lot of options to the rider. I used Broad to get from Brother Martin High School back to #themetrys in my high school years.

Gentilly Shopping

Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Times-Picayune ad announcing the opening of Maison Blanche Gentilly, September 12, 1947

In 1946, Maison Blanche was still a year from opening their store in Gentilly. The store opened its second location, closer to Elysian Fields, in September, 1947. The store at Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues followed a few months later. By the 1950s, the Gentilly Woods subdivision grew rapidly. Maison Blanche recognized this. They moved their Gentilly store, from Frenchmen and Gentilly Blvd., to just down the street from NOBTS. MB rode that boom, then moved on to the next boom, New Orleans east. They moved the store to The Plaza at Lake Forest mall in 1974.

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

Lots of photos of those stores in my book, “Maison Blanche Department Stores” – check it out!