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.

Cemeteries Fog on Canal Street #canalstreetcar

Cemeteries Fog on Canal Street #canalstreetcar

Cemeteries Fog

Fog at the Cemeteries

NORTA2017 at Canal Street and City Park Avenue, preparing to turn right. (Edward Branley photo)

Cemeteries Fog

It’s a beautiful morning now (0938CST), but around 0715, fog blanketed Mid-City New Orleans. Cemeteries fog is at once beautiful and dangerous. Misty, foggy cemeteries are wonderful for writers and poets. That same fog is awful for drivers!

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

NORTA2017 (above) waits to turn right onto City Park Avenue. This is the new, “extended” route of the line. Prior to August, streetcars stopped where 2017 is now. NORTA completed road construction on the new Cemeteries Terminal two weeks ago. The Canal Street line still turns off on the Carrollton spur, though. NORTA and its contractors continue work on the streetcar portion of the project. It looks like they’re still working on the electronics and switching. Cemeteries fog takes a technical operation into the ethereal plane.

Terminal Testing

cemeteries fog

NORTA2021 at the New Cemeteries Terminal (Edward Branley photo)

Almost daily, now, a streetcar travels down to the new terminal. The contractors test various aspects of terminal operations. Yesterday (20-December), NORTA2024 had the duty. The terminal has two streetcar tracks. The streetcars turn from City Park Avenue, onto Canal Boulevard, then stop on one of those two tracks. The inbound trip begins there. The terminal tracks merge into a single inbound track. The streetcar turns right onto City Park, then left onto Canal.

Riders disembark when the streetcar pulls into the terminal. They then walk up the neutral ground, to the two bus lanes, if they want to transfer to a NORTA or Jefferson Transit bus. The safety improvements here are excellent.

Return to Regular Operations

I’m not sure exactly when the streetcars will resume regular operations on Canal Street. The re-opening of auto traffic was the “big story” for the media. Once the intersection’s closure ended, the terminal went out of sight, out of mind. The “Cemeteries Shuttle” continues to connect riders from the foot of Canal to Carrollton and Canal.

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line
by Edward J. Branley

Cemeteries Fog

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.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal – Almost Done

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal – Almost Done

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

(cross posted to Canal Streetcar (dot com))

norta cemeteries terminal

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.

1964

norta cemeteries terminal

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.

Rider Safety

NORTA Cemeteries 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.

Opposition

norta cemeteries terminal

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

norta cemeteries terminal

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.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

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.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

Canal Street, from City Park Avenue.

Looking back on Canal Street, from City Park Avenue.

NORTA Cemeteries Terminal

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!

 

 

 

Canal Street, 1890s

Canal Street, 1890s

Canal Street 1890s.

Canal street 1890s

700 and 800 blocks of Canal Street, early 1890s

The CBD – Canal Street, 1890s – Before electric streetcars

A Mugnier photo depicts an interesting transitional period. Electricity arrived for buildings, but not yet for streetcars. That puts the photo pre-1894, but not much earlier. Mugnier stood on the corner of Canal and Baronne Streets. The left side of the photo is of the 800 block of Canal Street. Building numbers are still on the old system. So, the first address at the river was #1, then 2, etc. That’s how Kreeger’s is #149.

Notice that “S. Kuhn”, the store next to D.H. Holmes (left) has a sign that says “Kid Glove Depot. Kreegers’ sign next door says the same thing. In 1897, the Krausz Brothers specialized in gloves in their shop at 835 Canal as well.

700 Block of Canal

The Touro Buildings, in the 700 block, can’t be seen for the trees. Trees in the neutral ground of Canal Street helped beautify Canal. While they helped at the time, they cover up some of the street rail operations! So, there’s a carpet store at the corner of Bourbon and Canal. Fellman Brothers, in the 700 block, dissolved in 1892. It’s hard to tell if the Fellman store is Fellman Brothers (pre-1892), or B. Fellman. Leon Fellman split with brother Bernard in 1892. He moved his store down to the Mercier Buildings, as did S.J. Shwartz. He split with his family after the 1892 fire at A. Shwartz and Son. Abram passed away, and Simon also opened a new store in the Mercier Buildings.

Streetcars

“Bob-tail” streetcars from the Johnson Car Company sit on either side of the Clay Monument. Clay’s full base is visible. Mules provide the streetcar power. So, when the Canal Street line was electrified, the base was cut back drastically. On the right, one streetcar travels inbound, possibly turning at St. Charles Avenue. Two horse-drawn Hanson cabs sit on opposite sides of the neutral ground

 

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

by Edward J. Branley

Heather Elizabeth Designs

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

Podcast – Cemeteries Terminal on Canal Street

The Cemeteries Terminal

Cemeteries Terminal

Bus Shelter for the Esplanade line, on Canal Boulevard.

The Cemeteries Terminal at the Foot of Canal

Cemeteries Terminal

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

riding the belt

“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

cemeteries terminal

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

Cemeteries Terminal, 1963 (Courtesy Streetcar Mike)

Cemeteries Terminal

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.

cemeteries terminal

Current bus terminal on Canal Boulevard.

Canal Boulevard at present has three bus-turn lanes in the first block.

Cemeteries Terminal

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.

Cemeteries Terminal

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)

cemeteries terminal

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.

Cemeteries Terminal on the Canal Street Line #StreetcarSaturday

Cemeteries Terminal on the Canal Street Line #StreetcarSaturday

The Cemeteries Terminal

cemeteries terminal

Two NORTA 2000-series “Von Dullen” streetcars at the Cemeteries

The Cemeteries Terminal – End of the line

If you ride the Canal Street line from its beginning at the foot of Canal Street, you come to the Cemeteries Terminal, 4.3 miles later. The New Orleans City Railroad Company began operations on the Canal Street line on June 15, 1861. The original route as from the foot of Canal Street to the company’s barn, at Canal and N. White Streets. By August 24, 1861, however, the company extended the line to Bayou Metairie. This is now the intersection of Canal Street and City Park Avenue. The reason for the fast expansion was that people wanted to get up to the Cemeteries located in the neighborhood. Cypress Grove Cemetery, St. Patrick Cemetery, and several Jewish cemeteries were already in what is now the Mid-City area. So, the end of the Canal Street line became the “cemeteries.”

Growth of Mid-City New Orleans

The Mid-City neighborhood grew out from the French Quarter and Faubourg Treme. Light industry and other businesses set themselves up along the New Basin Canal. Folks working in those businesses took the Canal Streetcar to work. Eventually, they bought lots in Mid-City and built houses. By the 1900s, the Sicilians expanded into Mid-City to the point that the archdiocese granted the community permission to form a new parish. St. Anthony of Padua became Mid-City’s parish in 1915. All the while, people from many communities regularly took the streetcar up to the cemeteries.

The Original Terminal

cemeteries terminal

Cemeteries Terminal, 1964. (courtesy Mike Strauch, www.streetcarmike.com)

The end of the Canal Line was a two-track terminal until 1964. At various points, the streetcar tracks turned left and right onto City Park Avenue. The West End line went to the foot of Canal, then turned left, to continue to the lake. The Canal line ran as belt service with the Esplanade line, streetcars turned right onto City Park Avenue. The Canal line ran down City Park Avenue to Esplanade. They crossed the bayou at Esplanade Avenue, and continued down to N. Rampart Street. The Cemeteries Terminal was a busy place!

The Modern Terminal

Cemeteries Terminal

NORTA 2003, outbound, pauses before the Cemeteries Terminal, to let NORTA 2019 leave.

When the Canal line returned in 2004, so did the Cemeteries Terminal. Canal Street was one lane wider on either side, though. That meant there was only room for one track at the end of the line. When a streetcar leaves the terminal, it travels in the street for two blocks, before re-entering the neutral ground.

If there’s a streetcar in the terminal when a second car arrives, the new car pauses just before the switch that merges the tracks. The now-inbound car heads out, the outbound car pulls in. At busy times, two cars will enter the terminal. They’ll both leave at the same time. This usually happens on days when a big event happens downtown. A lot of folks take advantage of free parking around the cemeteries. They hop the streetcar and head to the river. Additionally, two cars double-up in the terminal when one of them gets way behind schedule.

Operations

Here’s a pair of 2000-series Von Dullen streetcars at Cemeteries. The now-lead car (which was the last one in) pulls out. By the time I finished recording this car, the one behind it pulled out as well!

Cemeteries Terminal

The modern Cemeteries Terminal

That left me standing in an empty terminal.

Buy Edward’s Book!

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line (Arcadia’s Images of America Series)

cemeteries terminal

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.