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!
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.
NORTA Cemeteries Terminal
(cross posted to Canal Streetcar (dot com))
Canal Blvd, before construction on the Cemeteries Terminal began.
NORTA Cemeteries Terminal is almost finished
The terminal at the foot of Canal Street, NORTA Cemeteries Terminal, is nearing completion. Construction began back in August, and it all appears to be coming along on schedule.
When the Canal Street line opened in 2004, the NORTA Cemeteries Terminal was a single-track affair. The outbound and inbound tracks merged to one. The operator changed the poles at the terminal, and went back downtown on the inbound (right-hand side if you’re looking towards the river) track.
The pre-1964 Cemeteries Terminal
When the line switched to buses in 1964, the terminal was two-track. It looked like the terminal at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborn Avenues. Canal Street’s auto traffic increased over the years, so they city cut back the neutral ground at the foot of Canal. There wasn’t enough space left to build a two-track terminal.
Plan for the new terminal
The additional traffic presented an additional complication. Streetcar riders were trapped in the middle of an incredibly busy intersection. Crossing Canal Street on either side is dangerous for pedestrians, even with crosswalks and Walk/Don’t Walk signs. Listen to our podcast on this subject for more details.
The city always planned for the NORTA Cemeteries Terminal to be temporary. The original funding for the Canal Street line included $10M to build an off-street terminal. The best plan called for outbound streetcars to make a right-turn onto City Park Avenue, travel that street for a block, then turn left onto Canal Boulevard. The actual terminal would be in that first block of Canal Blvd. The streetcars would loop around, go up City Park Avenue for a block, then left-turn onto Canal Street for the inbound run.
Car Stop Sign on Canal Street
The residents of Lakeview fought the project for over ten years, complaining that the construction would inconvenience them. Liability issues, combined with the possibility of losing the federal money forced NORTA’s hand. The project got the green-light earlier this year.
Progress – Canal Street
Cemeteries Terminal progress, 22-Nov-2017 – Canal Street
This is Canal Street, looking lakebound, with Greenwood Cemetery in the background. The track and overhead catenary is fully double-track.
Canal Street at City Park Avenue, 22-Nov-2017
Moving up from the last photo. The track and overhead wires make a right-turn at City Park Avenue from Canal Street. Streetcars haven’t turned right onto City Park Avenue since belt service ended in 1932.
City Park Avenue and Canal Boulevard
The view from City Park Avenue. Looking down City Park Avenue, towards Canal Boulevard. The track is complete, and a test run of a 2000-series streetcar took place this morning.
Canal Street, from City Park Avenue.
Looking back on Canal Street, from City Park Avenue.
Canal Street line terminal on Canal Boulevard.
The end of the line on Canal Boulevard. This design allows riders to get off the streetcar, then board buses, without having to cross busy streets.
Now that all the track is complete, we’ll try to get photos of Von Dullens on the move!
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The Cemeteries Terminal
Bus Shelter for the Esplanade line, on Canal Boulevard.
The Cemeteries Terminal at the Foot of Canal
NORTA 2003, outbound, pauses before the Cemeteries Terminal, to let NORTA 2019 leave.
The Cemeteries Terminal expansion project begins just over a week from now. Let’s explore the history of Canal’s end of the line.
1861 to 1894 – Mule-Drawn Streetcars
Canal Street at St. Charles Avenue (left) and Royal Street (right), 1865 (Blessing photo)
The Canal Streetcar line opened in June of 1861. It ran from St. Charles Avenue and Canal, originally to the New Orleans City Railroad Company barn on Canal at N. White. In August, 1861, the line was extended to the cemeteries.
1901 to 1925 – Belt Service
“Palace” Car on a test run on the Esplanade Belt, 1911. (courtesy NOPL)
Ridin’ the Belt – The Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue lines operated as belt service from 1901 to 1925. Check out our podcast on belt operation. In addition to Canal/Esplanade, St. Charles and Tulane also operated as a belt.
1925 to 1951
Canal and City Park Avenue, before the left-turn tracks were ripped up, 1951.
Belt service on Canal/Esplanade was discontinued in 1925. The right-turn tracks were ripped up, but the left-turn remained, so streetcars on the West End line could head out to the lakefront.
1951 to 1964
Cemeteries Terminal, 1963 (Courtesy Streetcar Mike)
Cemeteries Terminal, 1951 (Franck Studios for NOPSI)
When the West End line converted to buses in 1948, the left-turn tracks on Canal Street were no longer needed. NOPSI and the city built a two-track terminal at the foot of Canal, then ripped up the turn tracks. In 1964, all the streetcar tracks on Canal Street were ripped up, after the last run of the Canal line.
2004 to Present
NOLA.com article on the Cemeteries Terminal expansion by Beau Evans.
NORTA announcement on the project.
Current bus terminal on Canal Boulevard.
Canal Boulevard at present has three bus-turn lanes in the first block.
Plan for extending Canal Street line into Canal Blvd. (NORTA drawing, photo courtesy Beau Evans, NOLA.com)
The plan for the Cemeteries Terminal expansion. The streetcar will turn right from Canal, loop around on Canal Boulevard, then return to Canal Street.
The Bulldog, a pub on Canal Blvd, directly across from the bus terminal.
One of the businesses near the construction is The Bulldog, a Canal Street watering hole.
Buy Edward’s Book!
New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line (Arcadia’s Images of America Series)
New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line
The clanging of a streetcar’s bell conjures images of a time when street railways were a normal part of life in the city. Historic Canal Street represents the common ground between old and new with buses driving alongside steel rails and electric wires that once guided streetcars.
New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.