Canal Street 1890 #MBMonday

Canal Street 1890, was a transitional period for the city’s main street.

Canal Street, 1890

View of Canal Street, March 15, 1890, Wilson S. Howell photo courtesy NOPL

Canal Street 1890

Lots in transition in this Canal Street, 1890 photograph. The photographer is William S. Howell. He shot it on March 25, 1890, at 3:45 PM. There’s lots to break down here, but let’s focus on Maison Blanche and its history. Howell stands at Canal Street and Exchange Alley, He’s looking up Canal: the upper half of the 600 block, then the Touro Buildings in the 700. The 800 block is bunched together, with the cupola of the Mercier Building in the 900 block visible in the background. In the neutral ground  mule-drawn streetcar circles the Clay Monument counterclockwise. Two men stand in the foreground, possibly waiting for a streetcar.

A. Shwartz and Son

Abraham Shwartz’s dry goods store reached its peak by 1890. Shwartz moved into the corner of the Touro Buildings at Canal and Royal Streets. He ran the store with his firstborn. Youngest son Simon served as the company’s buyer and New York representative. While he lived in NYC, he regularly traveled between the two cities. Simon learned a great deal about the retail business living in New York. He picked up on modern trends. While his father listened, A. Shwartz and Son was slow to change. Simon wasn’t ready to break from the family in 1890.

The Touro Buildings

The Howell photograph presents an interesting perspective on the 701 block. As you can see, the entire block still stands four stories high. The original design of the townhouse-style buildings remains intact from the 1840s. The far corner of the block, Canal at Bourbon, was the second site of Christ Episcopal Church. Touro bought out the church, and the chapter moved to the 901 Canal, at Dauphine. That church no longer stands in this photograph. The building with the high cupola in the background replaced the third Christ Church, in 1885. So, by this photograph, Abraham Shwartz, Bernard Fellman, and B. Cohn operated from the Touro Buildings. Leon Fellman split with his brother in 1888. He opened Leon Fellman and Company in the 901 block in 1888.


Transit in transition! Well, not quite yet. The photo shows a “bobtail” streetcar, in front of Henry Clay’s statue. The base of the monument filled the three-way intersection (St. Charles Street on the left, Royal and the right, and Canal running river to lake). It formed a roundabout for the streetcars. That would change in five years, as electric streetcars took over.

Maison Blanche

Canal Street, 1890

Ad for Maison Blanche in The Daily Picayune, 22-September-1907

Simon Shwartz’s department store doesn’t come to Canal Street for another seven years, but the Mercier Building stands ready for it. Here’s an ad for MB in The Daily Picayune from September, 22, 1907. This was the last Fall/Christmas for the store in the Mercier Building.

The Book

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

If you like the story of Maison Blanche, you’ll want to get my book, Maison Blanche Department Stores, available at all the usual suspects.

Tiger Band Always Wins

Tiger Band Always Wins

Tiger Band wins the day every LSU football game.

tiger band always wins

The Golden Band From Tiger Land take the field for a game in the late 1960s.

Tiger Band Always Wins

tiger band always wins

GBFTL at the 2008 National Championship Game in the Superdome

That’s right. No matter what the score after the final whistle, The Golden Band From Tiger Land (GBFTL) is always the big winner. While GBFTL’s traditions and are best experienced in Tiger Stadium, their house, those attending the LSU-Florida State game tonight in the Caesar’s Superdome will still see why they’re such a good show band.


tiger band always wins

Andrew D. Lytle photo of the LSU “Cadet Band,” ca. 1900.

The GBFTL officially began as a “Cadet Band” in 1893. Certainly the Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana (the school’s name from 1853–1861) had martial music, bugles and drums, particularly under the leadership of William Tecumseh Sherman in 1860. By the 1890s, brass bands in the style of the USMC’s band, led by Sergeant Major John Philip Sousa grew in popularity. GBFTL fit this mold.

Then came Jazz. The LSU Tigers adopted Nick LaRocca’s “Tiger Rag” in 1926. Combined with patronage from then-Governor Huey P. Long, LSU, its football program, and GBFTL grew in stature.

The Four Notes

tiger band always wins

portion of the GBFTL website

The “Four Notes” are the opening of “Tiger Rag.” GBFTL plays a number of variants of the tune, but the one most notable is the “Stadium Salute.” The band takes the field, the Drum Major blows the whistle, the drums roll off, and the band plays those notes. It’s never quite the same as Tiger Stadium, but you’ll see the pre-game salute in Da Dome.

Serious Talent

tiger band always wins

LSU Cadet Band, 1910s

GBFTL are the most visible component of the university’s school of music. The band consists of students from across campus, not merely music majors. When my son graduated with an Accountancy degree from the Ourso School of Business. He could have finished in three years, but for a scheduling conflict. There was a computer class required for accounting majors that was a prerequisite for taking their first audit class. That class was scheduled for the same time as GBFTL practice. No way was he giving up Tiger Band for that! So, he took the computer class in the spring, and graduated the following December. Four years of band. It’s important.

So, give a shout out to GBFTL tonight. Tiger Band always wins!


NASA T-38s

NASA T-38s

NASA T-38s enable astronaut pilots to keep their qualifications.

nasa t-38s

one of NASA’s T-38 Talons used by the astronauts. (courtesy NASA)


NASA T-38s and Artemis!

nasa t-38s

NASA T-38s, flown by astronauts, buzz Artemis I on Pad 39B (courtesy NASA)

We’re approaching liftoff for Artemis I on Tuesday. The Artemis program is NASA’s plan to return to the moon. Artemis I launches unmanned, with three mannequins in the Orion spacecraft.

It’s quite exciting, so naturally, NASA astronauts buzzed Pad 39B in their T-38 jets. This photo gave me All The Feels: Going back to the moon, much less any launch from Cape Canaveral. Memories of my son calling from Port Canaveral when he was a submarine officer and they would pop up in Florida. The Orion’s similarity to the Apollo spacecraft of my childhood.

And the T-38s. it’s more than just NASA’s use of the USAF’s jet trainer aircraft. That makes perfect sense. Seeing these jets brings me back to when the Demostration Teams, the USAF Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels toured using smaller jets.

Phantoms to Trainers

nasa t-38s

Blue Angels flying the A-4F Skyhawk (courtesy US Navy)

nasa t-38s

Drawing of a T-38 Talon flown by the USAF Thunderbirds (courtesy USAF)

Both the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels switched to the F-4 Phantom II in 1969. (The Thunderbirds previously flew the F-105 Thunderchief and the Navy the F11F-1 Tiger.) The Phantom was the only plane flown by both teams. Those planes were magnificient. The teams demonstrated the Air Combat Maneuvers they implemented in Southeast Asia and Europe.

nasa t-38s

Thunderbirds flying Talons (courtesy USAF)

Then came the Energy/Oil Crisis of the mid-1970s. With the Saudis squeezing the US crude oil supply, gasoline prices at the pump skyrocketed. The amount of fuel burned by the Phantoms became both public relations and budget problems. So, in 1974, the teams transitioned to smaller jets. The five T-38 Talons of the Thunderbirds consumed as much jet fuel as a single Phantom. Those agile trainers put on an excellent show.

The Blue Angels chose the A-4F Skyhawk to replace their Phantoms. The Skyhawk (the jet flown by Vietnam-era pilots such as the late Senator John McCain) was a carrier-based, single-seat fighter/bomber that supported the air superiority missions of the Phantom. Like the Talons, the Skyhawks consumed a fraction of the gas needed to operate the Phantoms.


nasa t-38s

USAF Thunderbirds flying F-16 Fighting Falcons (courtesy USAF)

After a horrific accident in 1982, where four Talons and their pilots were lost, the Thunderbirds resumed touring, flying the F-16 Flying Falcon.

nasa t-38s

US Navy Blue Angels flying the F/A-18 Hornet (courtesy US Navy)

The Blue Angels continued with the Skyhawk until 1986. They transitioned to the F/A-18 Hornet in 1986. So, both teams continue to use these aircraft models. While the teams upgrade to the latest version of each airframe, they’ve stuck with the Falcon and Hornet.

To the Moon

So, it makes perfect sense for NASA to use jets that aren’t gas hogs. They’re not “Maverick” and his team, flying F-18s on secret missions (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Seeing those Talons buzz Artemis I gives me the Apollo-to-Star Trek feels of the early 1970s.

Railroad Enticements

Railroad Enticements

Railroad enticements in 1924 included Asheville, NC and Cincinnati.

railroad enticements

Railroad enticements

A few ads from the Times-Picayune, 13-August-1924. These railroad enticements appealed to New Orleanians wrestling with the dog days of summer. The Louisville and Nashville advertised sleeper service to Asheville, NC, and the Southern Railway System ran trains to Cincinnati. The L&N trains departed New Orleans from their depot at Canal Street by the river. Southern Railway trains operated from Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets. Both railroads (as well as most of the others) maintained ticket offices on the ground floor of the St. Charles Hotel. The photo is of the L&N’s “Pan American” train, which ran from New Orleans to Cincinnati.


railroad enticements

“The temperature at this famous vacation land is delightfully cool and invigorating. Get some mountain air into your lungs, and come back to the South benefited by your vacation.”

L&N offered sleeper car service from New Orleans to Asheville. The trains left New Orleans at 8:30am, arriving the next morning.

Rising Rates

railroad enticements

“Are Railroad Rates Too High?” – L&N addressed the concerns of the various businesses they serviced. The railroads moved goods across the country in the 1920s. The dominance of trucking and the Interstate highway system did not come until the 1950s. “Cold facts and not wild fancies are shown by the figures here presented.”

Southern Railway

railroad enticements

While the L&N’s railroad enticements were to the cool mountain air, Southern advertised service to the cities. Two drains daily in 1924, leaving New Orleans at 8:30am and 8:10pm. The day train reached Birmingham, AL, by 6:55pm that evening, and Cincinnati at 9:30am the next morning. The evening train reached Birmingham for breakfast, terminating at Cincinnati at 8:55pm.

Unlike the Pan American’s all-sleeper service on the L&N, Southern Railway offered service via Pullman Sleeping Cars and standard coaches. That enabled the railroad to offer comfort as well as economy fares. Trains included dining cars.



Theodore Lilienthal ads photos

Theodore Lilienthal ads photos

A sampling of photos from Theodore Lilenthal inspired by an advertisement.

theodore lilienthal ad, The New Orleans Daily Democrat, 25-Jul-1879

Theodore Lilienthal

Back of the St. Charles Hotel stereo card, Theo Lilienthal.

Back of the St. Charles Hotel stereo card, Theo Lilienthal, 1880.

Photos by photographer Theodore Lilienthal. Lilienthal was a general photographer, doing portraits, architectural photos, and general scenes popular among stereo photography enthusiasts. His portfolio is diverse and extensive. We’ve selected three photos for this article, St. Alphonsus Church, the second incarnation of the St. Charles Hotel, and a copy photo of Gus Beauregard.

The inspiration for this article is my passion for old advertising in New Orleans newspapers. While perusing the New Orleans Daily Democrat’s edition from 25-July-1879, I came across an ad for Lilienthal’s studio. By 1879, the photographer’s reputation no doubt preceded him. Lilienthal shot many portrait photos for soldiers and sailors passing through New Orleans.


Writing for 64 Parishes, Gary Van Zante gives us Lilienthal’s early bio.

Born in Frankfurt-on-the-Oder, Prussia, in 1829, Lilienthal emigrated to New Orleans in 1853. Within a year of arriving in the city he was practicing as a daguerreian. (The daguerreotype was an early form of photography using a light-sensitive silver-coated metallic plate.) Until the outbreak of the Civil War, he partnered with German-born photographers and painters, his studio trade anchored in the large local German immigrant community. During the war he established a successful practice in military carte de visite, a type of small photograph portraiture. Initially most of his business came from the thousands of Confederate troops mustered in the city; later the Union occupiers became his primary customers.

So, Lilienthal saw the potential of portrait photography in its early stages. While there was no way the typical soldier during the Southern Rebellion could afford the time or the cost of an artist’s portrait, a photograph in his shiny uniform could be sent back home.

St. Alphonsus

St. Alphonsus Church, New Orleans, by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880

St. Alphonsus Church, New Orleans, by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880

The Irish community built the church of St Alphonsus Liguori in 1857. It stands at 2029 Constance Street, near Josephine. St. Alphonsus was the second of the three churches of the “Redemptorist” parish that serviced the Irish Channel. The German community upgraded their church across the street, St. Mary’s Assumption, from a small wooden building to an even larger church. They finished their church in 1860. So, by the time Lilienthal sold this stereo card in 1880, the set included both churches.

The St. Charles Hotel

The "second" St. Charles Hotel, stereo card by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880.

The “second” St. Charles Hotel, stereo card by Theodore Lilienthal, 1880.

A row of hack carriages stands in front of the St. Charles Hotel. Lilienthal captured this image in 1880. This is the second incarnation of the St. Charles Hotel. It opened in January, 1853, after the first incarnation burned in 1851. Unfortunately, this hotel burned down in 1894. The row of hack carriages stands ready to transport guests to the train stations and other places of interest in the city.


copy photo of an illustration of PGT Beauregard. Illustration ca 1863, Theodore Lilienthal photo photo ca 1870s

Copy photo of an illustration of PGT Beauregard. Illustration ca 1863, Theodore Lilienthal photo photo ca 1870s

In the 1870s, Lilienthal made a photo copy of a print of PGT Beauregard. The print dates to approximately 1863. Images of Gus (Beauregard disliked his first name, going by Gustave or Gus) were popular after the rebellion, as New Orleanians considered him a hometown hero.

rear of Beauregard copy photo by Theodore Lilienthal, ca 1870.

rear of Beauregard copy photo by Theodore Lilienthal, ca 1870.

One handwritten note on the rear of the card says “G. T. Beauregard” above Lilienthal’s mark. Below the mark, “Beauregard, Died. Monday February 20, 1893. Lilienthal operated from a studio at 102 Poydras Street (old address system), just off Camp Street. He later moved to 129 Canal Street. That location is in the Touro Buildings, which comprised the 701 block of Canal.

Photo Credits

The photos of St. Alphonsus and the St. Charles Hotel are from the Rowles Stereograph Collection, Louisiana State Museum. The Beauregard photo is from the LSU Libraries Special Collections. The studio ad is from The New Orleans Daily Democrat, 25-Jul-1879.




Heart of Louisiana FOX8

Heart of Louisiana FOX8

FOX8’s “Heart of Louisiana” segment on “Streetcar” featured…me.


FOX8 Heart of Louisiana

It’s the 75th anniversary of the movie, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” To mark the milestone, The Historic New Orleans Collection presents a wonderful, well-curated collection of ephemera and memories from the movie, It’s titled “Backstage at ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.

Dave McNamara, of WVUE FOX8 New Orleans, did a segment for his “Heart of Louisiana” series on the exhibition. Dave wanted someone to speak to the original, real Desire line. THNOC got ahold of me, and I got on the teevee.



Dave Walker at THNOC was familiar with my podcast segment on the Desire line. He connected McNamara and I. We got together at the Seignouret-Brulatour Building. Some folks may remember this building as the location of WDSU-TV for decades. Many of the station’s ID photos featured the courtyard at the Brulatour house. The building currently contains “Streetcar” exhibition. We walked across the street to the courtyard of THNOC’s Royal Street Campus. That’s where Dave interviewed me.

The Real Desire Line

Tennessee Williams wrote “Streetcar” while living in an upstairs apartment on Royal Street. Since the Desire line serviced the French Quarter, he hard the streetcars coming and going. No doubt that influenced his creative process. Desire ran through the Quarter, Marigny, and into the Upper 9th Ward. Desire Street was the termination point of the line.

NOPSI 922 as movie star


NOPSI 922, the movie star, running on the Canal Line, early 1960s

When the production company came to town to film “Streetcar,” they headed Uptown to Carrollton Station. The streetcar barn offers a practical route for filming. The streetcar emerges from the front of the barn. It turns left onto Willow Street, then left onto S. Carrollton, outbound. The car takes one more left, turning onto Jeanette Street. On Jeanette, it enters the barn from the rear. With the right lighting and camera angles, directors capture solid footage. The viewer remains unaware of the simple loop run. NOPSI 922, one of the 1923-vintage arch roofs received the call-up for “Streetcar.”

Additionally, this route appears in other movies. In “Runaway Jury,” John Cusack hops off of an arch roof on Jeanette Street, as if he’s heading home from work.

The “Other Desire Streetcar”

In the FOX8 segment, you’ll hear us talking about the “Streetcar Named Desire” the French Market Corporation displayed in the 70s and 80s. While NOPSI 453 was an older, Brill streetcar, it represented the city and movie for decades. That streetcar sat out of service for years prior to the movie, but every arch roof had “Desire” on its rollboard. So, in many ways, they’re all “Streetcars Named Desire.”

Thanks again to Dave McNamara for not leaving me on the cutting room floor (which now is the “delete” key on the computer), and to Dave Walker for thinking of me for this segment. “Backstage at ‘A Streetcar Named Desire” runs at THNOC until July 3, 2022.