Spanish Map 1798 is a copy image created in 1875.
“Plan of the City of New Orleans and adjacent plantations,” 1798. (Public domain image via LOC. Click image for higher resolutions)
Spanish Map 1798
My friend Derby Gisclair posts old New Orleans images that catch his eye daily on social media. I love this, because the more of us that promote the city’s history, the more people come around to the subject. And the more books we sell! Derby posted this map yesterday. The wording on the image caught my eye, so I gave it a deep dive.
Plan of the city
The title of the map:
Plan of the City of New Orleans and adjacent plantations.
Compiled in accordance with an Ordinance of the Illustrations Ministry and Royal Charter, 24 December, 1798
Signed: Carlos Trudeau
But this is not the original! It is a copy. The copy illustrator made this note:
COPY and TRANSLATION
From the Original Spanish Plan dated 1798,
City of New Orleans
Its Fortifications and Environs
A note at the bottom says, “Drawn by Alex’ DeBrunner N.O.”
Notes on Plantations
Detail of Trudeau’s map, showing the French Quarter.
The Spanish Map 1798 offers detailed notes on the various property holdings around the city. While the detail of what is now the French Quarter is accurate, the detail outside the Quarter enhances its usefulness. The map shows the “first cemetery,” inside the bounds of the Quarter, as well as St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, on Basin Street. The cemetery sits just west of the turning basin of the Caroldelet Canal. The linear canal stands in stark contrast to Bayou St. John and other waterways in the area.
The map presents what is now St. Louis Cathedral as the “parish church.” While this may be a translation issue, it’s possible that Don Carlos named it that on his original. The city re-built the church after the fire of 1788. It became a cathedral in 1793, when Louisiana became a separate diocese.
Note explaining the land holdings of John Gravier.
Just outside the French Quarter
Land of John Gravier, part of the plantation of the Jesuits, confiscated through his very christian Majesty ; 15 arpents front on the Mississippi River.
The Society of Jesus received a land grant from the King of France, operating a plantation just upriver. The Spanish suppressed the Jesuits in Spain in its colonies in 1763. John Gravier received the Jesuit land. By 1798, the Spanish planned to fully develop what is now the Central Business District.
The Spanish Map 1798 confuses royal titles. While the Spanish controlled colony in 1798, the map references the French king’s title. The king of France used the title, “His Most Christian Majesty.” The king of Spain, “His Most Catholic Majesty,” and the king of Great Britain, “His Most Brittanic Majesty.” Debrunner likely translated the title wrong, since the reference is to the king of Spain.
Don Carlos Trudeau created the Spanish Map 1798
Trudeau was Surveyor General of Spanish Louisiana. While the dominant language of Colonial New Orleans was French, Spanish records list him as Don Carlos Trudeau. Trudeau surveyed and designed what is now Lafayette Square, in Faubourg Ste. Marie. This Spanish Map 1798 fits the pattern of extensive documentation by the government of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
Trudeau was born in New Orleans, in 1743. France owned and governed New Orleans at the time. He became Surveyor General in the 1780s (the Spanish assumed control of New Orleans in 1763). Trudeau held the post until 1805. He resigned after the Americans took over New Orleans. So, Charles returned to public service a few years later, serving as Acting Mayor for six months in 1812, and on the City Council.
Trudeau’s family followed a French naming tradition of the time honoring distinguished women. Charles received the honorific, “dit Laveau,” recognizing his paternal great-grandmother, Marie Catherine de Lavaux, of Montreal. Trudeau married Charlotte Perrault. So, the couple had four daughters. Additionally, Trudeau engaged in a relationship with Marguerite Darcantel, a gen de couleur libre. He had a daughter with Darcantel, Marie Laveau.
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Department stores and train stations on Basin Street on NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-July-2019
Basin Street, 20-July-1954, in the wake of the demolition of Terminal Station
NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-July-2019
Two segments on NOLA History Guy Podcast 27-July-2019. First, our “Today In New Orleans History” for 20-July, and then we’ll unpack a photo from 1955. Both focus on Canal and Basin Streets.
Terminal Station, late 1910s
This week’s pick from Today in New Orleans History goes back to 20-July-1954. The city demolished Terminal Station on Canal and Basin Streets. Union Passenger Terminal opened in April, 1954. The Southerner, Southern Railway’s passenger service from New Orleans to New York City, departed from Canal and Basin Streets on 16-April-1954. Then-mayor “Chep” Morrison implemented a scorched-earth policy with respect to the passenger railroad stations. He ordered the four remaining stations demolished. (The IC Union Station was already partially demolished, to make way for Union Passenger Terminal.)
Trains ran on Basin Street since the late 1870s. The excursion train to Fort St. John (Spanish Fort) on Lake Pontchartrain terminated at Canal and Basin. The Spanish Fort train (which was steam-powered) departed from that station, turned onto Bienville Street, traveling out to the lake.
Leon Fellman bought the property right next to that small station in 1899. Clearly he knew that New Orleans Terminal Company planned to build a grand passenger station in its place. Fellman tore down the buildings in the 1201 block of Canal Street in 1902. In their place, he built the two-story, block-long building that became Krauss Department Store.
Canal and Basin, 1955
Krauss and the empty space on Basin Street, 17-April-1955 (T-P)
Un-packing a photo from almost a year later, 17-April-1955. The demolition exposed all of Krauss to folks walking down the street. The size of the original building (Canal to Iberville Streets), combined with the warehouse building, stunned many folks. Terminal Station obscured the full view of the store since 1908.
Terminal Cafe, 1911
The Terminal Cafe, 1911. Here’s Todd’s entry on his page, Food Krewe:
The men look like conductors. The hand-written note on the photo says Terminal Cafe, and — in smudged letters — May 11, 1911. The address written in the margin puts the bar between Basin and Crozat streets, on the edge of Storyville and near the Kraus Building. Searching the archives, I could find nothing more. #tbt
You want to go “like” Food Krewe on Facebook. Then go subscribe to Todd’s email list, to keep up with what he’s doing. At the same time, go join our YatCuisine group on Facebook. It’s an alternative to the hot mess that “Where NOLA Eats” has become.
New Orleans Uncovered
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The last years of the Steamboat President in New Orleans
Ad for concerts on the Steamboat President in the Loyola Maroon, 3-December-1982.
Midland Barge Company built the President in 1924. The steamboat operated in overnight packet service, running from Cincinnati to Louisville. Streckfus Steamers acquired the steamboat in 1933. They renovated it and renamed it from Cincinnati to President. Streckfus originally operated the boat out of St. Louis. They moved President to New Orleans in 1941. World War II put constraints on purchase of fuel oil. Therefore, the company kept President close to home. They offered port tours and dance cruises. That business continued through the 1980s. The President left New Orleans in 1989.
The Steamboat President offered a mix of “dance” and “concert” cruises during its time in New Orleans. Touring bands and musical acts played the boat as they passed through town. When there were no headline acts in the area, the President featured local bands for floating dances. Ticket prices for these dance cruises were affordable, even for high school kids. A number of well-remembered local bands played the boat in their formative years. Occasionally, local “oldies” bands attracted older audiences to the President.
This ad from 1982 presents a lineup typical of the holiday season. With dozens of live-music venues, New Orleans attracted touring bands. Bands avoided the colder climes in the northern states by traveling I-10, from Florida to California. The Steamboat President offered a change of pace from the typical roadhouse venues these bands played. B. J. Thomas, the English Beat, and Romeo Void all sat on the charts at one time or another. Thomas appealed to an older crowd. As a 24-year old in 1982, I can say with confidence, he wouldn’t be an artist I’d go out for a night on the boat.
Pros and Cons
The upside to an evening at a concert or dance on the President was that the evening was a cheap date. The biggest con was being trapped on the boat for the evening. One exercised caution who one went on the boat with. Blind dates on the President were risky. Double- and triple-dating provided safety in numbers, lest you end up stuck in a situation where you had nothing to talk about.
End of an era
1989 marked the end of an era. The President was the last large riverboat used as a concert venue. While riverboats like the Natchez and Creole Queen offer dinner cruises, none of the current boats hold the same number of passengers.
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Bus and streetcar routes in New Orleans were laid out in NOPSI Maps.
1928 NOPSI transit map
Maps of the local transit system are essential for riders. While those maps are most often found online these days, proper paper maps existed for generations before handheld devices with Everything.
Lots of interesting things here, on this 1928 map. This is a year before the 1929 Transit Strike (the origin of the po-boy, etc.). In terms of total miles of track, this is the zenith of streetcar operations. The 1929 strike changed how New Orleans commuted. NOPSI worked to get riders back, but it was not an overnight process.
Some things here that caught my eye:
- The Napoleon line went all the way out to Shrewsbury Road in Metairie. Streetcar service in Metairie ended in 1934.
- The Canal and Esplanade lines ran in “belt service” at this time. NOPSI provided “Cemeteries” service that ran to the end of Canal Street.
- The “Canal Bus” ran on Canal Blvd, out to Fillmore Ave.
- NOPSI offered no service on North Carrollton Avenue. Mid-City, between Canal Street and Bayou St. John contained the Bernadotte Street railroad yard and extensive industry. NOPSI services the neighborhood with the City Park line.
- West End ran out to the lake, along the New Canal. While the regular Spanish Fort line no longer operated, NOPSI maps indicate the seasonal shuttle line.
The Canal/Esplanade belts defined service in Mid-City at the time. While there were shorter, “support” lines, the neighborhood relied primarily on the Canal line.
NOPSI provided extensive streetcar and bus service Uptown. So, NOPSI maps show the St. Charles and Tulane lines running in “belt” service. While the original operators consolidated years before this map, the older lines continued on. Prytania, Laurel, and Tchoupitoulas operated at this time. So, Claiborne, Freret, St. Charles, and Magazine lines operated as the main cross-Uptown lines. Those lines operate today.
The Gentilly line ran from downtown out to Dreux Avenue on Franklin Avenue. Bus service on Elysian Fields only operated to Florida. The Pontchartrain Railroad still ran out to Milneburg at this time.
Vintage New Orleans Transit is a fun group on Facebook, if you’re active on that platform.
Finally, check out NOLA History Guy Podcast!
2-8-0 Steam Locomotives operated regularly in Gentilly
Southern Ry (NO&NE) 2-8-0 near Gentilly Blvd (between NE Tower and Seabrook) New Orleans, Frank C. Phillips Photo
2-8-0 Steam Locomotives
We mentioned the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad (NO&NE) last week, in our discussion of Homer Plessy’s ticket to Covington. Plessy was arrested at Press Street Station. That station was the terminal for the NONE in the 1890s. Southern Railway acquired NO&NE in 1916. Southern Railway moved NO&NE’s passenger service to Terminal Station on Canal Street. Freight service operated from NO&NE’s Gentilly Yard. The way out of town for the Southern system was their five-mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain. So, passenger trains came out via the Lafitte Corridor, then merged onto the Back Belt. Freight trains came up Peoples Avenue from the yard, then to the back belt. The trains traveled north, alongside Peoples Avenue. The trains crossed the Industrial Canal at Seabrook. From there, they headed out of town.
Gentilly Blvd. and trains
The Back Belt more-or-less follows Gentilly Blvd. While train tracks run as much as possible in straight lines, streets tend to twist and turn. Because Gentilly Blvd intersects the train tracks several times, the railroad and the city built several underpasses. Trains stayed at the same level, going straight. Automobiles turned, curved, and dipped under the tracks.
Tony Howe, admin of the Louisiana Railroad History group on Faceback captioned this Frank C. Phillips photo:
Southern Ry (NO&NE) 2-8-0 near Gentilly Blvd (between NE Tower and Seabrook) New Orleans, Frank C. Phillips Photo
Others in the group (which is highly recommended for railfans and rail historians) added details. The houses to the left place the photo in Gentilly Terrace. The train heads south, towards either the Back Belt or the yard. The photographer stands just south of the underpass at Gentilly Blvd. The WPA/city/railroad built that underpass in 1940.
Baldwin Locomotive Works introduced the Consolidation 2-8-0 locos in 1883. So, this type of engine was a regular workhorse by the late 1940s. NO&NE owned a number of Consolidations. Unfortunately, the number on this engine isn’t visible.
Canal-Baronne Transit Operations were important at the turn of the 20th Century.
Streetcars at the intersection of Canal and Baronne Streets, 1906. (Detroit Publishing Company postcard)
Single-truck streetcars along Canal Street in 1906. This postcard shows common Canal Street operations at the time. We’re eleven years into the electric era here. Single-truck Brill and Ford, Bacon & Davis streetcars run all over New Orleans. Double-truck cars replace the singles on the Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue lines by 1910.
800 Block of Canal Street
Single-truck streetcars dominate this scene, but it’s the buildings in the background that got my attention. There’s a wall sign on the reddish building towards the center-rear of the image. That sign advertises A. Shwartz and Son, a dry goods store in the 700 block. That store closed in 1892. So, by 1906, the wall ad is already a “ghost ad.”
A. Shwartz ad, 800 block of Canal Street (Infrogmation photo)
That’s important for my next book, Fading Signs of New Orleans. That ad still exists! The building became the Trianon Theater in 1912. The theater’s owners painted over the A. Shwartz ad. Passersby saw the theater promotion from 1912 until the Saenger Brothers bought the Trianon in the 1920s. The ad remained. Over time, the paint from the Trianon sign faded. Weather and age revealed the Shwartz ad underneath. Now, the sign is a mixture of the two. Because the edge of the Shwartz ad was dark (red) with white letters, it held up. All of the photos I’ve found are either of the Trianon ad or the mash-up. That’s why this postcard is important.
The old Trianon Theater became office and retail space. The Keller-Zander department store operated there for years. The building next to the old theater is an old house from the 1850s. The Boston Club purchased the house and converted it for use by the luncheon club. The Boston Club is the private organization most closely associated with the Mystick Krewe of Comus.
Streetcars on Baronne
Baronne Street was a part of the St. Charles line for decades. The line ran on St. Charles to Tivoli Circus, inbound and outbound. At the circle, inbound streetcars curved around, to Howard Avenue. While the modern line turns right onto Carondelet Street, the cars traveled inbound on Baronne at the time of this photo. Baronne had dual-track operation. So, the inbound streetcars came to Canal Street on Baronne. They traveled down to the turnaround at Liberty Place. The outbound cars turned left at Baronne. They traveled up Baronne to Tivoli Circus (later named Lee Circle), then out to the Uptown neighborhoods.