Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Travels/Holidays!

In 1939, Laura Mae Gumb of Hope, North Dakota took a long rail journey with her best friend Alice Curtis. They wanted to visit the New York World's Fair and see Washington, D.C. In the process, they celebrated the retirement of a 70-year-old Great Northern railroad engineer (above), ventured to Chinatown, and remarked on the wonders they saw. They drank cocktails at the Diamond Horseshoe and the Savoy.  They also seemingly stole a lot of restaurant menus, napkins and ashtrays. They met travelers from all over the world.

May your travels and festivities this season be equally remarkable!

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Orleans As Divine Feminine

In 1915, New Orleans bungalow architect Morgan Dudley E. Hite (1882-1959) developed a map titled "New Orleans --Center of the World" (shown above). Mayor Martin Behrman's administration liked the map so much, it was used in a full-page advertisement the following year (shown below), accompanied by the passage:

"New Orleans is not content to rest secure and apathetic in her position as the center of the world, the center of world population, the center of world-production, the center of world-navigation.

"That much was done for the City of New Orleans by Nature.

"But to supplement this handsome and generous work of Nature the City of New Orleans is building for the future when the new industrial empire at her door will have been developed; when the wet lands at her door have been reclaimed; when the cut-over pine lands will have been turned to the plow; when the natural resources of her tributary section will have been made to yield the golden tribute of their promise."(1)

(1)"The Eyes of the World Are on New Orleans." Trade Index 28:6 (June 1916); recto of back cover. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Orleans Business Archive: Friede & Goldman

The New Orleans firm of Friede and Goldman, Ltd. was established by Jerome L. Goldman (1924-2013, shown left above) and Commander Vladimir M. Von Der Friede in 1949. Friede (1895-1966) had been a Russian naval officer prior to the revolution, and joined the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. Goldman was a 1944 University of Michigan School of Naval Architecture graduate who had worked for Andrew Jackson Higgins during the war.

The partners quickly established a firm of international renown. They designed ships and offshore rigs. In 1957, they collaborated with Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corp. and Bryant Boats (Bayou LaBatre, AL) to introduce all-aluminum welded towboats for work in marshland oil fields.(1) Three years later, the marine engineers developed a number of new vessels for the Delta Steamship Line, including:

Del Rio (Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 1960)
Del Sol (Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 1960)
Del Oro (Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 1960)

These three ships were originally planned for Delta's West African trade routes. The S/S Del Rio was the largest vessel ever built on the Mississippi River when it launched in July 1960. Friede and Goldman departed from traditional ship design in placing the superstructures in the forward part of the ship. The "Dels" were designed for a speed of 18 knots.

After Friede retired in February 1962, Goldman continued to manage the firm. Under his direction, the company designed five new Delta cargoliners:

Delta Argentina (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Brazil (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Paraguay (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Uruguay (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)
Delta Mexico (Ingalls Shipyard Division of Litton Industries, 1968)

The S/S Delta Argentina was the first to launch. The 1968 ships featured centralized control stations in the engine rooms and on the bridge, as well as "bulbous" bows that were intended to increase speed (designed for 20 knots) and economize fuel.(2)

In 1969, Goldman introduced the world's first LASH (lighter aboard ship), the M/S Acadia Forest. This new transportation system was constructed at the Equitable-Higgins Shipyards on the Industrial Canal. The Port of New Orleans became the embarkation point for modern containerization techniques.

For more maritime history see the Mariners' Museum website.

For more about Avondale Shipyards, consult the University of New Orleans' Earl K. Long Library.

(1)"Aluminum Towboat for Bayou Work Is Planned." The Times-Picayune 17 February 1957.

(2)"Delta Inc. Ship on Maiden Voyage." The Times-Picayune 20 April 1968.

Image above: Jerome L. Goldman and Avondale Shipyards exec. vice president Henry Z. Carter at the Launching of S/S Del Rio. Chamber of Commerce News Bulletin LI:29 (15 July 1960): p. 2. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

OST Hot Spots

Since I attended the Old Spanish Trail Centennial Celebration in Mobile, Alabama last week, I've been thinking about how the Good Roads Movement affected commercial architecture. Tracking down relevant structures requires mapping OST road beds and cross-checking Sanborn data sets, building plans and historic newspaper accounts.

The route -- highlighted above -- took westbound travelers through the Crescent City along Bayou Sauvage/Gentilly Road to North Broad  (via Paris) on to Canal, St. Charles, Broadway and ultimately to the Westwego-Walnut Street ferry.(1)

A St. Charles Street "Automobile Row" began to emerge in 1913. Various developers acquired historic residences along the artery between Girod and Julia Streets, and either adapted them or razed them for other use. Julius Koch was awarded a contract to demolish a boarding house and construct a 131' foot showroom (preliminary rendering above; photograph below). Three years later, Koch also designed a new building for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.(2)
Not all of the structures listed below are still standing, but most of them are. Some of them feature ornamental automobile symbolism such as wheels and wings.

If you are interested in learning more about the OST Centennial and/or wish to become involved in the planning process, click here.

St. Charles Avenue


M.G. Bernin Motor Trucks (1919)


Motor Car Service Company, Inc. (1920)


Abbott Motor Company {Two buildings -- Packard Showroom & Apartments/Showrooms} (1920)


Packard New Orleans Company (1929)


Abbott Automobile Company (1920)

St. Charles Street


Fairchild Motor Car Company (1917)


Woodring-Hamilton Car Company (1916)


Ellis Motor Company [formerly King Motor Company] (1920)


United Motor Car Company (1920)


Safety Tire Repair Company (1916)


Hotel Orleans (altered for this use in 1917-1918)


Demack Motor Car Company (1918)


Herbert E. Woodward Tires (1915)


Capital City Auto Company (1915)


Moon Agency (1914)


L.A.M. Motor Company (1918)


B.F. Goodrich Company New Orleans Branch (1914)


Abbott Auto Company "Used Car" Department (1919)


Stoutz Motor Car Company (1917)


Willys-Overland Company (1914)

Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (1916)

Freeport & Mexican Fuel Oil Company (1917)


Capital City Auto Company (1919)

And others that were very near to the OST:

Baronne Street


Charles E. Miller New Orleans Branch [Automobile Sales] (1910)


Shuler Auto Supply Company Inc. (1919)


M. Zilberman Show Room (1918)


Abbott Cycle Company (1906)
{They also sold automobile gloves}

Abbott Automobile Company (1908)


New Orleans Chevrolet Company (1926)


Brown Tube Company (1914)

Model Motor Truck Company, Inc. (1917)


Abbott Automobile Company, Ltd. (By 1916)


Fairchild Auto Company (1910)

Howard Avenue


Bernstein Glenny Motor Car Company (1917)


Lyons-Barton Motor Car Company (1915)
{Constructed using Kahn System}

Julia Street


B.P. Braud, Inc. Cord Tire Repairing (1920)

(1)An earlier route kept autoists on the east side of the Mississippi along the River Road.

(2)"Big Auto Tire Company to Make Crescent City Its Distributing Point." The Sunday States 21 May 1916.

Images above: Old Spanish Trail Association. Old Spanish Trail Road Map Southern Louisiana. October 1924. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries. Digitally enhanced.

"New Orleans to Have 'Automobile Row' by September 15." The New Orleans Item 12 June 1913.

"The New St. Charles Auto Row." The New Orleans Item 5 October 1913.

Abbott Automobile Company, 2001 St. Charles Avenue. As it appears in The New Orleans Item 12 December 1920.

Fairchild Motor Company, 700 St. Charles Street. As it appears in The New Orleans Item 8 July 1917.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Original Rhinestone Cowboy

The Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin is undertaking a year-long conservation effort pertaining to a historic Mississippi bungalow. Curator Karen Patterson is soliciting assistance in the reconstruction of "Original Rhinestone Cowboy" Loy A. Bowlin's Beautiful Holy Jewel Home. Developed in rural McComb over a five-year period in the late 1980s, the BHJH became a tourist attraction to those who trailed the flamboyant cowboy's longhorn-adorned 1967 Cadillac.

During the mid-1950s Bowlin and his wife Ina Mae owned a Mid-City New Orleans half double at 2758 Dumaine Street.

Images above: Top two: K. Rylance. Loy Bowlin Preservation Lab. John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. As viewed December 2016.

Loy Bowlin's Home, McComb, MS 1996. Still from "Loy Bowlin: Rhinestone Cowboy." Sheboygan, WI: The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2004. The film documents an earlier exhibition effort.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Draining the East

Fifty-five years ago, a group of New Orleans business leaders assembled at the Roosevelt Hotel to celebrate the preliminary draining of the former St. Maxent [AKA Michoud] Tract. Mrs. Joseph Boston (shown center), a direct descendant of Colonel Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, ceremoniously pushed a key to inaugurate the Maxent Pumping Station. Hotel guests watched some 60,000 gallons of water/minute moving from nearly 750 acres. By lowering the water table in this manner, developers anticipated residential, commercial, industrial and recreational developments on a mammoth scale.

Image above:  Mrs. Joseph T. Boston of Mobile, Alabama, with her mother, Mrs. J.T. McMahon and various developers. October 1960.  "Draining of Land Starts in New Orleans East Land." Chamber of Commerce News Bulletin XLI:42 (14 October 1960): p.5. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Automobile Reefs

In May 1960, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce News Bulletin reported that its Board was backing an artificial snapper reef plan developed by the West Bank Council:

"The Sports Committee of the West Bank Council reported that such a reef could be constructed at a cost of about $18,000 and would attract fish into the Gulf waters and, consequently, attract large numbers of fishermen and tourists to the area.

"The reef would be constructed of old car bodies laced together with steel cables and anchored approximately 7 1/2 miles from the seaward end of the Freeport Harbor Channel Jetty."(1)

Alabama and Texas had previously created artificial reefs in this manner. In 1959, Florida deployed concrete linings from a demolished causeway to develop one on the southeast corner of Fisher Island Estate. Virginia utilized a combination of motorized vehicles for two reefs: one located near the Thimble Shoals Lighthouse; and one 12 miles off of Cape Henry. South Carolina initiated a 1967 reef with 70 scrapped vehicles, and quickly added three tugboats; two mine sweepers; a drydock; a barge; 30,000 tires and 50 pontoons.(2)

In 2001, New York City Transit officials retired some 714 World's Fair series Redbird subway cars in this fashion. When the new "Redbird Reef" needed expansion seven years later, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources dropped a World War II-era Navy tanker.

(1)"Council Backs Artificial Reef." Chamber of Commerce News Bulletin XLI:22 (27 May 1960).

(2)"Junk Brings Life to Carolina Waters." The Times-Picayune 4 November 1984.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Paving Chinatown

The Association of Commerce News Bulletin is a good source for construction announcements dating from 1919-1972.  Issues regularly feature a "New Orleans Is Growing" column that itemizes business developments and urban planning initiatives.

In September 1937, the bulletin highlighted the razing of the city's Chinatown:

"Tulane-Crescent Parking Company will start demolition of the old Chinatown area, Tulane Avenue between Rampart and Elk Place, September 15. The area will be converted into a parking lot by October 15."

The same issue nodded to Charles B. Walgreen's intent to demolish the Canal Street Beer Building in order to build a $2,000,000 drug store.