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.
Uptown Backatown lines connected downtown to the universities.
Uptown Backatown – Commuter Lines
The S. Claiborne line began operation in 1915. New Orleans Railway and Light Company was the city’s transit operator then. The S. Claiborne line’s route, 1915-1916:
- Canal Street at Carondelet
- Inbound on Canal (1 block) to St. Charles Avenue
- Right turn onto St. Charles, up to Howard Avenue.
- Howard Avenue to S. Rampart
- S. Rampart to Clio
- Clio to S. Claiborne
- S. Claiborne up to Broadway
- Broadway to the end of the line at Maple Street
- From Maple Street, Broadway to S. Claiborne
- S. Claiborne to Erato
- Erato to Carondelet
- Carondelet to Canal
After 1916, the S. Claiborne line was extended. Instead of ending on Broadway, it ran all the way to S. Carrollton Avenue. Carrollton and Claiborne was an important corner/hub for street rail. The St. Charles/Tulane belt stopped at S. Claiborne, and the Orleans-Kenner Railroad’s interurban service came into New Orleans at this corner.
As the backatown neighborhoods grew, the streetcar lines that connected them grew as well. NORwyLT initially operated the single-truck Ford, Bacon, and Davis streetcars. The 800/900 series arch roof streetcars ran on S. Claiborne after 1923. Tulane and Loyola students, as well as New Orleanians attending sporting events at Tulane Stadium used the S. Claiborne line as an alternative to St. Charles.
I’m not sure about the original source of the photo above. It’s NOPSI 964 at the end of an outbound run on S. Claiborne.
NOPSI 964 advertises Luzianne Coffee on this run. Luzianne coffee and tea is one of the brands from Reily Foods. Reily also makes/sells CDM and French Market Coffee.
Streetcar operations on S. Claiborne were discontinued in favor of bus service in 1953. Around the same time, belt service on St. Charles and Tulane was discontinued. The Tulane line was converted to bus service, and St. Charles began point-to-loop operation, running from S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne, down S. Carrollton to St. Charles, then looping around Carondelet and St. Charles in the CBD. Today, the corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne is still a transit hub, but two of the three lines are buses.
Route information source: The Streetcars of New Orleans by Louis C. Hennick, E. Harper Charlton.