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.

Congo Square and the Roots of New Orleans Music

Congo Square and the Roots of New Orleans Music

Congo Square establishes the roots of Jazz.

congo square

Section of the 1883 Robinson Atlas plates showing Congo Square

Congo Square in Faubourg Treme

Before air conditioning’s escape into the mall or confinement at home, people gathered together to socialize and try to beat the Summer heat. In Spanish-controlled New Orleans of the late 18th Century, this also applied to the enslaved. Respecting Sunday as a “day of rest,” the Spanish gave the enslaved the afternoon off. The white owners permitted socialization. Like the rest of us, the Africans in New Orleans gathered and complained about the heat. They also entertained themselves, making music and dancing.

The Spanish city leaders permitted socialization, but outside the city proper. The enslaved gathered in an open area north of Rampart Street. Locals named that area, “Place des Negres,” They also called it “Place Congo.” The enslaved brought drums, bells, and other musical instruments to the square and gather, roughly by tribe, to play music, sing, and dance.

Uniquely New Orleans

The French and Spanish held different attitudes towards the enslaved than the Anglo-Irish. The Catholics, even the Spanish, usually ignored the “African” aspects of slave culture. The Anglo-Irish planters demanded their enslaved convert to their form of Protestant Christianity. They banned African-based music, song and dance. These trends continued after the American Revolution. When New Orleans joined the US. American ways merged with Continental philosophy slowly. The physical separation of the Vieux Carré and Faubourg Ste. Marie, the American Sector. contributed greatly to this.

That’s why, in 1819, architect Benjamin Latrobe was treated to over 500 enslaved Africans making music and dancing every Sunday afternoon. The local Creoles (people of French-Spanish descent) were equally affected by the heat and humidity of the city, so they didn’t have any qualms about descendants of Africans stripping down to next to nothing to drum and dance. Since the Creoles didn’t go to lengths to demand the enslaved assimilate into their culture, they didn’t. Latrobe heard the musical sounds of African-style instruments, such as the bamboula drums. The influx of Le Gens de Couleur Libre, the Free People of Color, accelerated the merge of African rhythms with French songs, as Blacks from Haiti joined in the Congo Square gatherings.

African Music and Dance

congo square

photo courtesy Falcanary at English Wikipedia

The “Calinda” became the best-documented dance from Congo Square. Large groups of enslaved would form the 18th/19th century equivalent of a mosh pit – hot, sweaty, nearly-naked bodies gyrating in time to the beat of the bamboulas, gourds, and banjos played by musicians. While these dances shocked observers such as Latrobe, the Spanish knew that giving the Africans time for rest and entertainment made them more productive. Additionally, calinda-dancing slaves also tired themselves out. The white Catholics believed they were less likely to practice Voudon in large numbers as the sun went down.

The Sunday afternoon gatherings in Congo Square continued well into the 1880s. After the Civil War, white city leaders tried to suppress the gatherings, even going as far as officially re-naming Place Congo to “Beauregard Square,” after former rebel general (and post-war civic leader) P.G.T. Beauregard. The residents of the Vieux Carré and Faubourg Treme, however, always referred to the area as Congo Square. That name was formalized by the New Orleans City Council in 2011. The original New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was held in Congo Square in 1970. Jazz Fest rapidly outgrew the square, moving to the New Orleans Fair Grounds racetrack. In a salute to the festival’s and the city’s roots, there still is a “Congo Square Stage” annually at Jazz Fest.

As part of an attempt at “urban renewal” in Faubourg Treme, the city demolished houses and buildings in the vicinity of Congo Square. They built Louis Armstrong Park. The park surrounds Congo Square. Music historians regularly argue the significance of Congo Square’s role in the evolution of Jazz. One thing is certain, though—Congo Square contributed to keeping African music and dance alive.

Author’s Note: I originally wrote this piece in 2012 for GoNOLA dot com. The images vanished from the article over time (photobucket loses, etc), so I updated it a bit over here.


Audubon Place is a state of mind

Audubon Place is a state of mind

Audubon Place is a “private” street in Uptown New Orleans, but it’s so much more to the city. (cross-posted to YatPundit.)

audubon place

Audubon Place gate at St. Charles Avenue, 1900s (Detroit Publishing photo)

Audubon Place and its residents

The area of New Orleans now referred to as the University District stands in between Faubourg Bouligny and the old City of Carrollton. The city reserved a large amount of land for a public park. The Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884 drew attention to this part of town. Additonally, Tulane University moved uptown in 1884. New Orleanians looked past Napoleon Avenue. With Tulane’s property lines now defined, developers built streets and sold lots just off campus.

In the 1890s, George Blackwelder created a single-street development on the western side of Tulane. He allocated 28 large lots along Audubon Place. The development required builders construct large single-family homes with high values. With city approval, the neighborhood association took Audubon Place private in the early 1900s.

The notion of a gated street with one way in, one way out appealed to wealthy New Orleanians. The late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans (both Pelicans, BTW, the NBA team, and his abortive attempt to buy a minor-league baseball club), lived on Audubon Place. His widow still owns the house. John Georges, owner of Imperial Trading, the Times-Picayune, and Galatoire’s Restaurant, also lives on Audubon Place.

audubon place

Zemurray home at 2 Audubon Place. (Infrogmation photo)

The most notable home on the street is 2 Audubon Place. Samuel Zemurray, founder and first president of United Fruit Company, built a magnificent home on the left side of the main gate, facing St. Charles Avenue. Zemurray later donated the mansion to Tulane. The university uses the home as the official residence of their president.

More than 28 lots

audubon place

Mrs. Gayle Benson’s home on Audubon Place was built in 1902 for a coffee merchant.

So, Audubon Place isn’t the only street where rich people live. After the Cotton Exposition at Audubon Park, other wealthy residents bought into the neighborhood just to the east of the park. Streets such as Henry Clay, Webster, State, and Nashville sport large houses owned by wealthy families. This continues up to Faubourg Bouligny and into the Garden District. Drive through these neighborhoods during Carnival season, and you’ll see the flags of the School of Design and the Mystick Krewe of Comus from a number of these homes. Those flags indicated that a member of the family was/is a past king of either parade.

These rich New Orleanians are the city’s business elite. They also donate large sums to the campaign funds of Orleans Parish politicians. While they don’t all live in Audubon Place, that 1900s gate and those 28 lots represent the class and their way of thinking.

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922 had a rose theme.

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922

Krewe of Proteus chose “The Romance of the Rose” for their theme in 1922. Thanks to the Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, for maintaining the krewe’s archives. Those archives include design sketches of their floats throughout the years. This post features three floats from that parade, “The Painted Wall,” “Love Conquers All,” and “Sir Mirth’s Garden.”

Proteus first paraded in 1882. They took a hiatus from 1993 to 2004, because of the controversial “Mardi Gras Ordinance” of 1993. Proteus returned to the streets in 2004. The krewe quarantined in 2021, but plan to parade on Lundi Gras 2022.

Le Roman de la Rose

Proteus 1922

Title float, Proteus, 1922

Like the other “old line,” debutante krewes, Proteus often chose themes from literature and history. “The Romance of the Rose” is a typical choice. From Wikipedia:

Le Roman de la Rose (The Romance of the Rose) is a medieval poem written in Old French and presented as an allegorical dream vision. As poetry, The Romance of the Rose is a notable instance of courtly literature, purporting to provide a “mirror of love” in which the whole art of romantic love is disclosed. Its two authors conceived it as a psychological allegory; throughout the Lover’s quest, the word Rose is used both as the name of the titular lady and as an abstract symbol of female sexuality.

To put this in Carnival terms, the poem offered the krewe a fertile ground for beautiful costumes and floats. Even if most of the parade-goers in 1922 had no idea about the poem, red! roses! costumes! The float designs lived up to the ambition.

“The Painted Wall”

Proteus 1922

“The Painted Wall”

Standing between “The Lover,” and the object of his desire, “The Rose,” was “The Painted Wall.” To reach his desire, the wall required our protagonist to overcome the trials of Poverty, Villainy, and Hate, among others. This float creates positions for six riders a side, with The Lover up front.

“Sir Mirth’s Garden”

"Sir Mirth's Garden" Proteus 1922

“Sir Mirth’s Garden” Proteus 1922

Once he passes The Painted Wall, The Lover approaches the walled garden of Sir Mirth. Inside, he encounters couples dancing, led by Sir Mirth Lady Gladness.

Love Conquers All

proteus 1922

“Omnia Vincit Amor”

This float bears the saying, “Omnia Vincit Amor” on the side. “Love Comquers All.” At the front of the float stands The Lover. The Rose, an artistic blending of a lovely flower with a woman at the center, highlights the float.

Floats then and now

Proteus 1922 floats sit atop old wooden wagons. The krewe use these same wagons to this day (well, to be sure, they’re regularly maintained/rebuilt). Proteus limits its size, so mega-floats are unnecessary. Additionally, a number of the members of Proteus also belong to other “old-line” krewes. It’s important to remember, these organizations present their daughters and granddaughters to society at their respective balls. Before the growth of parading organizations, the actual old-line parades served as glorified transportation to the bal masque.