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Part 1 of 5 Parts

When electric traction fans think of four track street railway operation, they usually think first of Market Street in San Francisco.  But another such operation, perhaps less well known but no less spectacular, took place on Canal Street in New Orleans.  In fact, Canal had stretches of four, five, six, and even eight track operation over portions of its length.

Canal Street—at 170 feet six inches the widest business district street in the country—was never paved curb-to-curb for the use of ordinary vehicles.  It originated as a “commons” area between the original city, also called the French Quarter or Vieux Carré, and the American Quarter, which developed immediately upriver.  In the early 1800s, a canal was supposed to have been built down the middle of this commons, 50 feet wide, connecting the Mississippi River to the Basin Canal (also called the Carondelet Canal).  The latter canal, now filled in, formed a connection to Lake Ponchartrain, running from Bayou St. John to Basin Street, where it ended in a large turning basin.  The plan called for 60 feet of reservation on each side of the new canal.  The proposed canal was never built, but the result was a 170 foot wide commons area, which gradually evolved into a street with two roadways flanking a central reservation.

At some point in the 1800s, a long drainage ditch was built down the middle of Canal Street.  This has led to much confusion about whether Canal was named for this little “canal”.  The drainage ditch was eventually covered over.

Like many of New Orleans’ wide main streets, this “neutral ground” (as New Orleanians call it) originally sported grass and trees, providing an almost park-like environment.  Also like some of New Orleans’ other wide streets, part of this neutral ground eventually came to harbor street railway tracks, which were thereby considerably freed from conflict with other types of vehicles.  But because Canal was (and remains) the center of the central business district, so many street railway lines used it that its wide neutral ground became completely filled with tracks, and was finally paved over.  Even paved, though, the neutral ground was still for street railways only, and other vehicles remained in the two flanking roadways.


In all the pictures in this article, click on the picture for an enlargement.
Pictures 1 and 1.5.
Plate1.jpg The upper picture is a somewhat fanciful 1885 aerial view from a souvenir booklet of the New Orleans Cotton Centennial Exposition, which was held on the grounds of today's beautiful Audubon Park.  Two railways can be made out on the grounds.  These were rival demonstration electric railways.  One was set up by Leo Daft, using a center third rail for power; the other was Charles Van Depoele's line, using an overhead trolley system similar to the one he installed in Montgomery, Alabama in 1886.  At the left we see a bend in the Mississippi River, and in the distance, the artist imagines we can see all the way to Lake Ponchartrain.  The lower picture is a map of the Exposition grounds, taken from an early publicity brochure.  As its legend states, “An electric railway encircles the grounds.”  It appears to be the line looping through the grounds marked by a dash-dot-dash-dot line.  It is not clear whether the line shown is Daft's or Van Depoele's line.  (Despite all this early exposure to electric railways, it was 1893 before New Orleans began to electrify its horse car lines.)
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Picture 2.
Plate4.jpg This is an 1857 view of Canal Street, looking almost due north from about Carondelet and Bourbon Streets.  We see the wide neutral ground as it existed before street railroads were built.  There are numerous omnibuses, giving such public transportation as they could. — Ballou's Pictorial, Vol. 13, No. 5, August 1, 1857, pencil drawing by Mr. Kilburn, from a photo by James Andrews
Pictures 3 and 4.
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Canal Street before streetcars.  The upper picture shows the street in the 1850s.  Notice the lines of omnibuses in the roadways on both sides of the neutral ground.  The lower picture was made on the occasion of the dedication of the Henry Clay statue in 1860, at the intersection of Canal Street with St. Charles Street and Royal Street.  Both views are looking out, away from the river, with the Vieux Carré (the French Quarter) to our right, and the American Quarter to the left.  The church whose steeple we can see on the right in both pictures is on the site that would later be occupied by the Maison Blanche department store.  Notice how the neutral ground seems to be filled with trees beginning about a block out from the statue, which would be the corner of Carondelet/Bourbon Streets. — Original from Harper's Weekly (lower)
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Picture 5.
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This stereo view is facing almost due compass north.  The date is Nov. 18, 1860, and the Henry Clay statue is still very new.  We see the intersection of Canal Street with Royal Street, with the Turo Building on the far side of Canal.  Note the nice post and chain fence around the neutral ground, and the omnibuses along the street.  There are as yet no streetcars.  As busy as the street is, this is a Sunday! — T. Bailey, collection of Eugene R. Groves
Pictures 6 and 6.2.
Plate3A.jpg Here are two versions of an early view of Canal Street.  The upper picture is from an 1877 Dutch book De Aarde en Haar Volken, published by Kruseman & Tjeenk of Haarlem.  The colorized lower version is from a lantern slide with a German inscription.  From the buildings, one assumes that the view is in the business district, but note the regularly spaced trees on the edge of the neutral ground.  The streetcar tracks are in the neutral ground, to the right, on the other side of the trees.  There is, of course, another roadway on the far side of the neutral ground, out of sight to the far right.  The use of a light blue in the colored picture within the neutral ground suggests that the artist thought there really was a canal there (a reasonable, though false, assumption), but in fact, that is where the streetcar tracks were located.  Note the large stone blocks with which the roadway was paved.  These were known as ballast blocks, and were sold to the city for paving after having crossed the Atlantic aboard ships as ballast.
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Picture 7.
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A stereo view of Canal Street, probably taken between 1861, when the Canal line was built, and 1868, when the Claiborne line was built and a second set of tracks was added to this view.  We are looking in to the river, with the Henry Clay statue discernible in the distance.  Compare this picture to Pictures 6 and 6.2.  This picture was taken from the center of the neutral ground, Pictures 6 and 6.2 from the left edge of the neutral ground.
Pictures 8 and 8.2.
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These two views clearly show that the early Canal line tracks were constructed with a very wide space between them.  The top stereo view was taken in the middle of the Canal Street neutral ground at Claiborne, but it is not known whether it is looking inward or outward.  We see a group of citizens relaxing on the “neutral grounds” (as the caption of the card puts it), while a horsecar approaches on the left track.  Note the presence of gravel between the rails (probably clamshell gravel, which is widely used in New Orleans), presumably to improve footing for the horses (or mules).  Without the gravel, in the wet climate of New Orleans, there would have been mud between the rails most of the time.  The bottom view was taken somewhere along Canal Street, but the location is not known.  We see that poles for electric lines have been installed along the edge of the neutral ground, but there are no trolley wires above the tracks, so this picture dates to the late horsecar era, perhaps c. 1890. — Theo. Lilienthal (upper)

The reason for the wide space between the tracks has been found by Morris Hill in an 1871 court decision.  There was a drainage ditch down the middle of much of Canal Street, and the original tracks of the Canal Street horsecar line were laid on a platform built over this ditch.  About 1869, the city cleaned out the ditch, and used the excavated material to build up the sides of the neutral ground.  The horsecar company was then required to move its tracks into this position, flanking the drainage ditch.  Of course, there is no sign of the drainage ditch in these pictures; apparently, it has been covered over or filled in.

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Before we can talk about the streetcar lines using Canal Street trackage, a bit of New Orleans’ unique terminology must be introduced.  New Orleanians do not, typically, give directions in terms of the compass.  Very few of its streets are generally north-south or east-west for more than short distances.  The problem is that most streets either run parallel to the Mississippi River, bending with its famous crescent, or run at right angles to the curving river, like spokes on a wheel.  So in New Orleans, directions parallel to the river are reckoned up- or down-stream—“uptown” or “downtown”—and directions perpendicular to the river are “in” toward the river or “out” away from the river and toward Lake Ponchartrain.  (See Figure 1.)  “Downtown” and “uptown” are not the names of areas, but are directions; a shopper planning to go to the Canal Street shopping district (the central business district) will speak of “going to Canal Street,” and may be going “uptown,” “downtown,” or “in” depending on the starting point.  Most streets which cross Canal are divided into “North” and “South” (for example, North Rampart and South Rampart), “north” being downtown from Canal.  Although these compass directions are approximately accurate at Canal Street, most of these streets run generally parallel to the river, which at New Orleans is more east-west than north-south.  Between Rampart Street and the river, most streets which cross Canal have different names on the uptown and downtown sides.  (See Figure 2.)  The French Quarter, or Vieux Carré, is the area from Canal downtown to Esplanade and from Rampart in to the river.


Figure 1.
New Orleans Directions at Canal Street.


 
 
Figure 2.
Cross Streets at Canal In the Central Business District.

(Modern street names shown in parentheses.)
out to lake
← uptown downtown →
S. Claiborne N.
S. Robertson N.
S. Villere N.
LaSalle Marais
S. Liberty N. (Treme)
(Loyola, Saratoga) S. Franklin N. (Crozat)
Saratoga (Loyola)/Elk Place Basin St.
S. Rampart N.
Dryades (O'Keefe)/University Place Burgundy
Baronne Dauphine
Carondelet Bourbon
Saint Charles Royal
Camp Chartres
Magazine Decatur
Tchoupitoulas } N. Peters
S. Peters
Fulton N. Front
S. Front (Convention Center) Wells
S. Delta N.
Foot of Canal St.
in to river


As in many other cities in the nineteenth century, horse car service in New Orleans was provided by several competing systems.  The oldest of these, the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad (NO&C), had begun in 1833 as a standard gauge (4’ 8½”) suburban steam railroad, but was gradually converted in the 1860s to horse (or mule) propulsion.  (The main line of the NO&C remains today as the major portion of the St. Charles streetcar line, the last streetcar line in New Orleans.)  There were five other major horse car systems, all wide gauge (5’ 2½”) and all dating from the 1860s: the New Orleans City Railroad (NOCRR—not to be confused with NO&C), later called the New Orleans City and Lake Railroad; the Crescent City Railroad (CCRR); the St. Charles Street Railroad (SCSRR); the Canal and Claiborne Streets Railroad (C&CSRR); and the Orleans Railroad (ORR).  All together, these six companies operated about twenty-seven lines, including the NOCRR wide gauge suburban steam line to Lake Ponchartrain at West End.  Almost all of these lines, including the West End steam line, came to Canal Street to terminate, and most of them ran along the great boulevard for at least several blocks, resulting in considerable congestion of horse cars.

One result of this intense utilization was the need for multiple tracks.  The C&CSRR operated a pair of tracks on the outer edge of the Canal Street neutral ground from Claiborne in to a loop at the “foot” of Canal, almost at the river, where the Liberty Monument was erected in 1891; these tracks were shared with several other companies for part of the distance.  In the center of the neutral ground, the NOCRR operated two tracks all the way from the outer end of Canal Street, at the cemeteries, to Carondelet/Bourbon, then four tracks to St. Charles/Royal, three tracks to Camp/Chartres, one track to Magazine/Decatur, and two tracks from a turntable at Decatur to Peters.  Finally, the CCRR had two tracks from a turntable at Camp/Chartres past the NOCRR turntable at Magazine/Decatur to Peters.  There were a total of six tracks from Carondelet/Bourbon to St. Charles/Royal and from Magazine/Decatur to Peters!


Picture 9.
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This picture, dated Nov. 18, 1860, features the U. S. Custom House, on the downtown side of Canal between Decatur and Peters, still under construction (compare its images in Pictures 10 and 11).  This venerable landmark, started in 1848 and not completed until 1881, is still in use today.  We see again the Canal Street neutral ground before streetcars, with the post and chain fence, as well as several omnibuses. — T. Bailey, collection of Eugene R. Groves
Picture 10.
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This is the New Orleans City RR turntable at Decatur and Canal Streets, for the French Market and Levee & Barracks horsecar lines, probably some time in the 1870s.  There is a blurred horsecar, probably being turned on the turntable, just to our right from the starter's house.  This is perhaps the most plain starter's house of the several on Canal Street.  To our right are the through tracks of the Tchoupitoulas* line of the Crescent City RR.  The custom house is still not quite completed; compare its roof in Picture 11. — S. T. Blessing
*Pronounced “chop-i-too-lus”.
Picture 11.
Card01.jpg Horsecars of the New Orleans Traction Co. (ex New Orleans City RR) pass the U. S. Custom House on the downtown side of Canal Street between Decatur and N. Peters, some time before 1895. — Raphael Tuck & Sons
Picture 12.
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The Custom House, looking down N. Peters St., from a view book dated 1892.  According to the caption in the book, the building was also being used as the Post Office.  Note how electrical poles and wires are beginning to accumulate on the street, but there are as yet no wires over the tracks.  The beginning of streetcar electrification in New Orleans is still a year away, and on the lines seen at this location, it is three years in the future. — Wittemann/Albertype
Pictures 13, 13.5, and 14.
NewCard01.jpg In New Orleans, just a little bit of snow can paralyze the city, because it is so rare that no one is used to it, and there is no snow removal equipment.  Here is what 8 inches of snow did to Canal Street traffic on Valentine's Day, 1895.  This is two years after electrification of the NO&C RR, but the lines on Canal Street had just begun to be electrified in mid-1894.  No trolley wires are visible on Canal Street in these pictures.  There are still plenty of bob-tail horse cars to get stuck in the snow.  According to the New York Times of February 15, “Traffic on all the mule cars has stopped, and not more than a dozen electric cars are now running.”  The steel lighting tower is at the corner of Carondelet/Bourbon and Canal.  It was built some time between 1885 and 1887, and taken down in 1897.  (Thanks to Morris Hill for that information.)  In the bottom picture, the leftmost car is marked “Canal & Tulane Ave.”  The top and bottom pictures are from published postcards, while the middle picture appears to be the original from which the postcard of the top picture was created.  Notice how the trails in the snow at the right have been smoothed out in the postcard.  Incidentally, this snowfall set a record which stood until December 31, 1963. — Collection of Anthony Posey & Crystal Craddock-Posey (middle), Grombach-Faisans (bottom)
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One of the more interesting features of all this trackage was that around the Henry Clay statue in the neutral ground at St. Charles/Royal Streets.  This monument, erected in 1860 with a massive seven-stepped base, extended the entire width of the neutral ground.  The lines of five companies terminated or passed by here.  Two lines of the ORR came in on the outer tracks and completely circled the statue to return.  The NOCRR had two turntables, one on the river side with three tracks for two lines, and one on the lake side of the statue with four tracks* for three horse car lines.  A track bent around the downtown side of the statue to connect the two turntables, and there was a starter’s house near each turntable.  (The West End steam line terminated at Carondelet/Bourbon.)  Four other lines of two other companies bent around the base of the statue on the outer tracks.  And all three lines of the SCSRR passed by here.  Originally, the Carondelet and Clio lines operated up Carondelet Street, and the Rampart & Dryades line came up S. Rampart Street, then all three lines operated in the roadway on the uptown side of the Canal Street neutral ground to St. Charles Street, then went down St. Charles.  Later, the Carondelet and the Rampart & Dryades lines used the outer track of the neutral ground riverbound, then turned uptown into a layover track in St. Charles Street, while the Clio line was extended across Canal Street.  At that time, Clio was the only line in the city to cross Canal.  It crossed here on its uptown trip, bending around the lake side of the statue and entering a short, third track in St. Charles.  This must easily have been the busiest spot of the entire horse car operation.


*Hennick and Charlton, in The Streetcars of New Orleans, make it three tracks, but there is pictorial evidence, even in their book, supporting four.  The 1883 Robertson Atlas also shows three tracks at this location, but there are several inaccurate track details in this atlas.  The pictorial evidence seems conclusive.

Of the six systems, only the standard gauge NO&C did not use Canal Street itself.  All NO&C lines which came down to Canal used a turntable in Baronne Street at Canal.  All trackage on Canal Street itself was wide gauge.

 Click here to view a map of Canal Street trackage around 1890.


Pictures 15, 16, and 17.
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Three closeup views of the Henry Clay statue at the intersection of Canal and St. Charles/Royal Streets, the upper dated 1873, the middle dated 1882, and the bottom dated 1892.  The statue is about twelve feet high.  Clay is in the act of addressing the U. S. Senate, with his right hand extended in gesture.  The view is looking out toward the lake, so Clay is facing the river.

The history of the statue was featured in its inaugural ceremony, held April 12, 1860.  The sculptor, Joel T. Hart, gave the oration, in which he included the following (Harper's Weekly, April 28, 1860).

    “In the year 1852, a number of public-spirited and patriotic citizens, desirous of manifesting their veneration for the character and public services of Henry Clay, formed themselves into a society named the `Clay Monument Association of New Orleans.'  Their object, as their name indicates, was to erect in this city a suitable monument to the illustrious man whose memory they designed to honor.
    “They determined to erect a bronze statue of Mr. Clay, and they fixed upon this spot for its location, with the permission of the city authorities.
    “On the 12th of April, 1856, the corner-stone of the pedestal was laid with becoming solemnities.  The work of making the statue was intrusted to Mr. Joel T. Hart, of Kentucky.  The Association displayed their good judgment in committing this important work to a native sculptor, whose distinguished reputation in the world of Art gave an earnest of its admirable execution; and who, born by the side of the illustrious patriot, and having early learned to contemplate his greatness, would bring to the performance of his grateful task a genius glowing with the enthusiasm of unbounded personal admiration.”  [The scultor/orator wasn't shy about himself, was he?]
    “Equally judicious has been the selection of this site for the statue.  In the most frequented thoroughfare of our city—in the very heart of the metropolis, overlooking the Mississippi, the great avenue of our internal commerce, and one of the strongest natural bonds of the Union—it stands conspicuous; a noble and permanent ornament of New Orleans, and a fit monument of the gratitude and veneration of a free people.”

In the middle picture, some of the signs can be made out on the buildings on the downtown side of Canal (to our right), such as one that says “Music Store.”  Note how the electrical wires have taken over the sky by 1892.  The big tower in the bottom picture was at the Carondelet/Bourbon intersection. — S. T. Blessing (upper), Lilienthal (middle), Wittemann/Albertype (bottom)

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Picture 18.
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This early picture shows the block of Canal between the Clay statue (at the Royal/St. Charles intersection, just out of view at the left) and Carondelet/Bourbon Streets, crossing the center of the picture.  We see trees on the neutral ground out from the latter cross street.  The lack of traffic suggests an early morning time.

All the tracks on the neutral ground belong to the New Orleans City RR.  We can make out a track for the St. Charles Street RR in the roadway at the left, on the uptown side of the neutral ground, running from Carondelet to St. Charles.  This and the next picture were the first evidence known to this author of streetcar tracks on Canal Street in the roadway rather than in the neutral ground.  Another picture, discovered later (and not shown in this article), shows that this track extended out at least past Baronne Street, and probably to S. Rampart, for the Rampart & Dryades line (later called simply Dryades).  (See also Picture 62.5.)  Presumably, this roadway track was removed when the outer tracks of the Canal & Claiborne Streets RR were built in 1868.  Those tracks had not been built when this picture was taken.  We see outbound horsecars waiting on three layover tracks, with the empty inbound track at their left.  The curves in the far left foreground connect to the turntable.  The rightmost track can be seen to be connected to something else off the left edge of the picture; presumably, this would be the turntable for this company's Magazine and Prytania lines, on the other side of the Clay statue.  On the near side of the Carondelet/Bourbon intersection, we can see the three layover tracks converging into a single outbound track.

The dating of this picture is problematic.  On the back of the card, in a clear and apparently contemporary hand, is written the date Dec. 1, 1869.  The Canal & Claiborne company began its (North) Claiborne line on May 13, 1868, running from Canal and Basin out to Claiborne and thence downtown on Claiborne Ave.  On May 9, 1869, their “Grand Trunk Route” opened, running on the outside track all the way to the foot of Canal.  Since this picture does not show that track, it has to have been taken earlier than May 9, 1869.  There is also the problem that there is in this picture no sign of the Orleans RR loop around the Clay statue.  The first Orleans RR route was the Canal, Dumaine, and Bayou St. John (later called just Bayou St. John), which opened July 4, 1868, apparently from this loop.  So the significance of the Dec. 1, 1869 date is unclear, but the picture seems to have been made some time between the opening of the St. Charles Street RR Carondelet line on July 29, 1866, and the opening of the Canal, Dumaine, and Bayou St. John line on July 4, 1868. — S. T. Blessing

Picture 18.5.
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Another very early view of the Henry Clay statue and its vicinity.  In the right foreground, we see some of the ornate cast iron balcony decorations for which New Orleans is justly famous.  To the left of the balcony, we see Mr. Clay facing us; we know that he faced the river, so our view is toward the uptown side of Canal Street, looking out in the direction of the lake.  We see streetcar activity of only two companies: the St. Charles Street Ry. at the left, and the New Orleans City RR on the neutral ground.  The SCS car at the left is on the track in the roadway of Canal Street, approaching St. Charles Street from Carondelet.  It has eight windows, which makes it fairly long for an early horsecar; seven windows is more typical.  There is no evidence of tracks for the Canal & Claiborne company (the future outer tracks that would be added to this view in 1869), or for the Orleans RR loop around the Clay statue (to be added in 1868).  So the picture can be dated between 1866 (when the SCS line opened) and 1868. — H. Miller
Picture 19.
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This view of Canal Street looks in toward the river, with the American side (the uptown side) in the background.  We see the Clay statue in the right foreground.  On the far side of the statue (the river side), we see the turntable for the New Orleans City RR Magazine and Prytania lines, with a horsecar on the turntable (blurred because it is being turned).  We see the tracks bending around the statue, connecting this turntable with the other NOCRR turntable (for the Canal, Esplanade, and Dauphine lines) just out of sight to the photographer's right.  The outer track, built by the Canal & Claiborne RR in 1869, can be seen faintly in the right foreground in front of the horse and buggy.  The big loop for the Orleans RR lines, which circled the statue, can also be made out, faintly; there appears to be a blurred image of a horsecar traversing this loop, just under the balcony at the left of the picture.  We can clearly see the ballast block street paving.  The ornate starters houses seen in later pictures (e.g., Pictures 20, 21, etc.) have not yet been built.  Also, the St. Charles Street RR has yet to build its track crossing Canal from Royal Street (on our left) to St. Charles Street (on our right).  That track was built in 1874, so this picture was taken between 1869 and 1874.  Notice how the light horse and buggy traffic is not restricted to the right side of the neutral ground, as modern drivers might expect.  The original caption to this stereo card (Blessing's No. 407) shows how old the picture really is: “This, with No. 404, forms a Panoramic View of the South side of Canal Street from the River to the Woods.”  Imagine, part of New Orleans was still primitive enough to be described as a “woods”! — S. T. Blessing, collection of Joseph Skinner
Pictures 19.3 and 19.5.
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The Henry Clay statue, looking in the other direction, i.e., toward the lake.  The upper picture is earlier than the lower.  In both pictures, we can see the starter's house on the lake side of the statue, but in the upper picture, it is a much more primitive structure than the later one in the lower picture.  In the foreground of both photos, there is part of the loop used by the Orleans RR lines.  Just past it, we can observe several of the connecting tracks that bent around the statue.  At the far right in the upper picture, there are several horsecars awaiting departure time for their next outbound trips.  Also in the upper photo, there are several horse-drawn cabs awaiting fares in front of the starter's house and near the neutral ground curb at the far right. — S. T. Blessing (upper)
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Picture 19.7.
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Henry Clay faces the river, so this view looks out toward the lake.  At our left, a horsecar of the Canal & Claiborne company is coming toward us on the outer track, which bends around the foot of the statue.  In the left foreground, we can see the track of the Crescent City RR joining that of the the Canal & Claiborne.  Cars of both companies operated in to the loop at the foot of Canal Street.  Notice the three dandies hanging around on the steps of the statue, and the little black boy sitting on the step with his chin on his hand.  To the right, two gentlemen and a fashionably dressed lady are examining something the lady is holding in her hand.  Note the electric arc light hanging over Canal Street, with some older gas lights nearby.  This picture dates from the period 1883 (Christ Church is gone) to 1887 (the light tower has not yet been built). — Kilburn Brothers
Pictures 20, 20.5, 21, 22, and 23.
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Five similar views of Canal Street, looking out (toward the lake) from the Henry Clay statue.  The top picture is from the Cotton Centennial Exposition souvenir booklet of 1885, and the second is from a “magic lantern” glass slide of the same view.  The third and fourth views are from stereoptican cards; their dates are uncertain, but the presence of the church steeple in the distance at the right dates all of the first four pictures to before 1883.  The bottom picture is from another stereoptican card, dated 1890.  However, the absence of both the church steeple and the light tower dates the bottom picture to between 1883 and 1887.  We can see six tracks in the nearest block.  Notice the ornate starter's house or ticket booth; the track in the foreground, which led around the statue to another turntable; and the “bob tail” style of horse car.  We can see trees between the inner New Orleans City RR tracks and the outer Canal & Claiborne Streets RR tracks from Carondelet/Bourbon out toward Claiborne.  The third picture gives us a good view of a horse car on the outer lakebound track (at the far right).  There is a man in what appears to be a street railway uniform in the front center of this picture, with his hands in his pockets; he may be a car man on break between runs, or perhaps a starter/supervisor.  The four interior tracks all connect to the turntable near the starter's house, while the two outer tracks extend past the photographer toward the river (to the photographer's back).  The turntable itself is not centered on the four tracks that connect to it, but is in line with the second from our left.  The rightmost of those four inner tracks also extends past the photographer, as does a connecting track from the turntable.  It appears that cars approached the turntable in the foreground from the leftmost of the four inner tracks, and used the other three to begin their return trips.  Perhaps the three outbound tracks constituted a layover area, or perhaps different routes started from different tracks. — Mugnier (third), W. M. Chase (fourth), J. F. Jarvis (bottom)
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Picture 24.
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Here is a view of the neutral ground and the downtown-side roadway of Canal Street from the St. Charles/Royal Street intersection.  Horsecars of the New Orleans City Railroad lay over on the three outbound (lakebound) inner tracks after having been turned on the turntable, which can just be glimpsed at the left.  The tail end of a horsecar is also seen at the left, entering the turntable.  To our right, several ladies in the long dresses that were universal at this time are talking to a cab driver at the head of a line of cabs waiting for work.  The ladies are standing on the outer lakebound track.  Here is another example of traffic going the “wrong way,” compared to what a modern driver would expect, in the roadway at the right.  The domed building in the right background is the Mercier Building, erected in 1887.  This building later housed the original Maison Blanche department store.  The light tower was erected not later than 1887, and it is absent here, so the picture must date from 1887. — American Picture Gallery, used with permission
Picture 25.
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Here is a view similar to Pictures 20 through 24, but taken from a bit further back from the Clay statue.  We are looking out toward the lake along the downtown-side roadway.  In the very center of the picture, we see a horsecar on the outer lakebound track.  It has just negotiated the jog that track takes as it approaches the Clay statue.  To the left we see a horse or mule pulling an Orleans RR car (Bayou St. John or Broad line) around that company's loop; the car itself is out of sight to our left.  In the background, we can see another car on the outer lakebound track, and several cars on the inner layover tracks.  On the far side of the Clay statue's stepped base, we can see another horse or mule; from its position, it seems to be at the head of a car that is being turned on the turntable.  The track which connects the two New Orleans City RR turntables, one on each side of the statue, appears to be laid overlapping the rails of the outer lakebound track, forming a gauntlet track.  The church steeple in the background dates the picture to no later than 1883. — Lilienthal, courtesy of Jeff Armstrong
Picture 26.
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The original caption to this picture says, “On November 6, 1892, the Amalgamated Labor Council having so decided all the Unions connected with it began to take part in a battle which had originated in a demand for higher wages made by the draymen and truckmen and opposed by the merchants of New Orleans.  The strikers succeeded in closing all business.”  Indeed, the only business prominently operating in this picture is the street railway business, although the scene is certainly peaceful.  One assumes that the word “battle” is not intended literally.  We are looking out past the Clay statue at the corner of St. Charles/Royal Streets.  In the foreground a car is just moving onto the turntable for the Magazine and Prytania lines, on the river side of the statue.  To its right a car on the outer track is moving out toward the lake, and visible between them is a car on the Orleans RR loop around the statue.  At the right rear we can see the six track section between St. Charles/Royal and Carondelet/Bourbon Streets, with cars visible on all six tracks except the second track from the left (the inner riverbound track).  At center left is a St. Charles Street RR car entering St. Charles Street.  The most unusual car in the picture is the dark car just to the right of the base of the Clay statue.  It appears to be too massive to be a horsecar.  Possibly it is a baggage car for use on the West End steam-powered trains.  Incidentally, electrification of the horsecar system began the following year.Photos of the World and Its People, 1893
Pictures 27 and 28.
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Two companion stereoptican views, both looking out toward the uptown side of Canal Street.  The upper was taken between Chartres and Royal Streets, with the Clay statue featured in the center.  The lower view was taken about a block further out, looking toward Carondelet Street, and featuring the six-track section.  In the upper picture, we have an excellent view of the turntables on both sides of the Clay statue.  At the left edge of the picture, we see a Magazine or Prytania car leaving its turntable on the center track, and an Orleans RR car (Bayou St. John or Broad line) next to the starter's house.  We can clearly see the jog in the lakebound outer track as the alignment changes from five tracks in the foreground to six in the next block.  The lower picture shows the complementary jog as the alignment changes again, from six tracks in the foreground to four in the block beyond Carondelet/Bourbon.  In both pictures, note the buggies waiting for passengers next to the neutral ground curb at Royal Street (the foreground of the lower picture). — Mugnier (both)
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Pictures 29, 30, 31, and 32.
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These views look in, toward the river, from Carondelet Street.  The top picture features the Touro Building, on the downtown side of Canal Street at the corner of Bourbon.  Note the unusually large separation between the two inner tracks at the left side of the picture.  In the second picture, we are looking down the middle of the neutral ground, and we can see how the inner tracks connect together.  All four inner tracks are occupied, the rightmost one showing the tail end of a horsecar, the other three the leading end of cars which have been turned on the turntable and are awaiting the start of their next runs.  We again see the large separation between the tracks from behind the photographer.  The starter's house, or ticket booth, to the right of the Clay statue, is much more crude than the one shown in Pictures 20 through 23, so this picture seems to be older than those.  In the third and fourth pictures, we see that the curve from Carondelet to Canal, in the foreground, passes under a leg of the steel light tower; that tower was built between 1885 and 1887, and it had not yet been built when the two top pictures were taken.  At the next intersection, St. Charles/Royal, we can see the back of the Clay statue, and beyond that, the fountain at the Camp/Chartres intersection (for a closeup of this fountain, see Pictures 66 ff)).  In the third picture, all the horsecars in the block between Carondelet and St. Charles are coming toward us.  We can clearly see the mules leading the cars on the third track from the camera in that picture.  This confirms that cars operated lakebound on all tracks except the rightmost two.  Two different stereo cards containing the third picture are known to the author, one copyrighted 1891, the other 1904.  By 1904, the horsecar lines had been electrified for nine years, so the 1891 date seems more likely.  In the bottom picture, we see all four inner tracks of the New Orleans City & Lake RR occupied, three with cars facing out (lakebound, toward us) awaiting the start of their next runs, and the right one with cars facing inward (away from us) toward the turntable just this side of the Clay statue.  This picture also gives us a clear view of a ticket booth in the left foreground, with signs saying “Tickets for West End” and, on a window, “Lake RR”; presumably, windows that we can't read said “New Orleans City and”.  Note in the foreground the “ballast block” paving of the streets. — S. T. Blessing (two top pictures), J. F. Jarvis (third), collection of Jessica Spring (bottom)
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Picture 33.
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Another view from a stereoptican card.  This is also looking out, like Pictures 20 through 24, but from somewhere in the block between Camp/Chartres and St. Charles/Royal, looking toward the Clay statue.  The empty track prominent in the foreground is the lakebound through track of the C&CSRR.  Note the open gutter to the right of this track. — J. F. Jarvis
Picture 34.
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Here is a view just a little further out from the river than Pictures 20 through 24.  We are looking almost due north, toward the lake.  Only one, blurred horsecar is in view, but we can see clearly that there are 4 tracks at this point: the inner New Orleans City RR pair of tracks, and the outer Canal and Claiborne Streets RR pair.  The type of horse drawn cab in the foreground is still available for hire today on New Orleans streets, but the old Christ Church (1847-1883) is long gone from Canal Street; its site is occupied by the Maison Blanche department store. — S. T. Blessing
Picture 35.
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A closer view of Christ Church, the third church building of this congregation.  Their first two churches stood at the corner of Canal and Bourbon Streets.  This building was erected at Canal and Dauphine in 1847, and stood until 1883.  At that time, the congregation moved uptown, building their fourth church at St. Charles and Sixth Street.  It originally had a steeple reminiscent of the one seen here, but the steeple was destroyed in the great hurricane of September 1915, and never rebuilt.  Note the ornate columned buildings next to the church. — S. T. Blessing
Picture 36.
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An 1885 view looking toward the uptown side of Canal Street at St. Charles.  Orleans RR horsecar no. 17 is looping around the Henry Clay statue to begin its outbound trip.  A New Orleans City RR car is approaching the turntable on the lake side of the statue to complete its inbound run.  Click on the picture for a closeup view of ORR horsecar 17. — Mugnier
Pictures 37 and 38.
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Two views of horsecars on the Orleans RR lines circling the Clay statue, probably some time in the 1880s.  Both look out toward the lake.  The ad on the front dash of the horsecar in the upper photo reads, “FRENCH OPERA HOUSE / SATURDAY, at 7:30 P.M. / TRAVATORE / MR. CESTE! / The Leading Baritone as COMTE DE LUNA.”  In the lower view, the track in the foreground is the lakebound outer track, which crosses the ORR track loop.  Note the open ditch to the right, and the jog in the alignment of the outer track as it passes the statue. — Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection (upper), Woodward Stereoscopic Co. (lower)
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Picture 39.
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Here is an unusual angle, looking toward the downtown side of Canal Street from St. Charles Street.  The horsecar prominent in the foreground is just starting around the Orleans RR loop around the Clay statue, which is out of sight to our right.  At the next intersection (Carondelet/Bourbon Streets), several New Orleans City RR cars are preparing to begin their next outbound trips; one can be seen taking a crossover in front of the little shack there.  There is no clue about the reason for the spilled bundles in the street in the foreground.  But notice the hansom cabs awaiting fares along the neutral ground curb.  The church steeple in the background dates this picture to before 1883. — S. T. Blessing
Pictures 40 and 41.
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We are looking across the Clay statue toward the downtown side of Canal Street, with Royal Street leading off at the left.  In the left foreground of the lower picture, we can see the track that St. Charles Street RR Clio cars took to cross Canal Street, as it bends around the lake side of the statue from Royal into St. Charles Street (behind the photographer).  This track is absent in the upper picture, dating it to before the 1874 extension of the Clio line across Canal Street.  On the right in both pictures, we see cars on the Bayou St. John or Broad line; the car in the lower picture is clearly marked “Orleans R. R. Company”.  The cars have paused while circling the statue to return to Dauphine Street for their next outbound runs.  The lower picture gives us a great view of the business signs on the buildings at the corner of Royal and Canal, behind the statue: “Moody's Shirts”, “E. A. Tyler Watches & Jewelry”, “Washburn's Photography and Fine Art Gallery”, “J. A. Walker”, “C. Duhamel[?] Spectacles Optical Mathematical & Marine Instruments”.  Tyler's jewelry store advertises, among other things, “silver and plated ware”.  The building at the corner, housing Moody's, Tyler's, and Washburn's, was designed by Germain Musson, the grandfather of Edgar Degas. — S. T. Blessing, courtesy of Jeff Armstrong (upper)
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Picture 42.
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This picture looks toward the downtown side of Canal Street, facing toward the river.  In the center foreground we can see the bend in the riverbound outer track as it carries the Canal & Claiborne Streets RR (North) Claiborne and Tulane lines past the Henry Clay statue, and the curve from the downbound St. Charles Street track connecting to the outer track for the Crescent City RR Annunciation and Coliseum lines.  A car from one of these four lines is seen at the right, somewhat blurred by its motion.  We also see part of the loop track used by the Orleans RR lines to circle the Henry Clay statue.  ORR car 5, marked by a roof sign as a “smoking car”, is taking some layover time prior to its next departure.  Behind the mule pulling ORR car 5 is a car on the outer lakebound track, just starting to pass the Clay statue on one of the C&CSRR or CCRR lines.  To our right from the ORR car we can see the activity around the New Orleans City RR turntable on the river side of the Clay statue, used by the Magazine and Prytania lines.  There were three NOCRR tracks connected to this turntable (between the outer tracks of the C&CSRR).  We can see cars which have already been reversed on the turntable and are lined up on the rightmost two of the three tracks, awaiting their next upbound runs.  People are boarding at the rear door of the cars on the right hand track.  Note the tall, ornate structure in the neutral ground at Camp Street, the next cross street in this picture; it can be seen in a closeup in Pictures 66 ff.  This picture dates from after 1880 (since the Customs House, in the distance, appears to have a completed roof—compare Pictures 10 and 11), and before 1895 (when electrification of these horsecar lines began). — Collection of Kevin T. Farrell
Pictures 43 and 43.5.
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These two pictures are looking out from a vantage point near Camp Street (behind the photographer) toward the Clay statue at the St. Charles/Royal Streets intersection and the Touro Building behind it.  In the distance at the left is the steeple of the Christ Church, which dates these pictures to before 1883.  They are similar enough that they were probably taken by the same photographer just minutes apart, although they were published by different companies.  (The author speculates that they were both taken by George Mugnier, who then sold one and published the other himself.)  In the center foreground of the upper photo, we can see the blurred image of a horse (or mule) drawn wagon making its way in on Canal Street.  At the right foreground, another blur marks a moving horsecar on the outer riverbound track; it might be on any of the Annunciation, Coliseum, (North) Claiborne, or Tulane lines.  Just to the right of that car is a more solid image of a horsecar on the inner riverbound track, on the Magazine or Prytania line.  Another car on one of those lines is seen on the turntable at the lower center of the picture.  Immediately to our left from the turntable is a starter's house, and between the starter's house and the Clay statue is a horsecar on the loop for the Orleans RR lines.  Beyond the Clay statue, to our left, we can see the starter's house for the other turntable, and several horsecars on the tracks leading out (to our left) from that turntable.  In the lower picture, there are horsecars of the Magazine and Prytania lines prominent at the right, on the inner riverbound track.  We can see the motive power of the second car well enough to identify it as a mule, as were most probably all the other animals used on the New Orleans “horsecars” of the time.  Again, there is an Orleans RR car on its loop, just this side of the Henry Clay statue. — W. M. Chase (upper), Mugnier (lower)
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Picture 44.
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This is an 1890 view from about Camp Street looking toward the statue at St. Charles/Royal Streets and the tower at Carondelet/Bourbon Streets.  At the right in this picture, note the difference in size and in roof styles between the two horse cars.  (The larger car is not an electric car, since it would be about 5 years yet until electric cars operated on Canal Street, but it is similar in body style to early electric cars.)  We can see an Orleans RR car stopped next to the starter's house at St. Charles/Royal, having gone so far about half-way around the Clay statue circle. — Collection of James H. Adams, Jr.
Picture 45.
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Here is an artist's rendering of the view from a vantage point in the Morris Building, one of the taller buildings on Canal Street, some time between 1883 (when Christ Church was demolished; note the absence of its steeple) and 1887 (by which date the light tower was built at the corner of Carondelet/Bourbon).  He did not draw in the turntable of the Magazine and Prytania lines, on the near side (the river side) of the Clay statue.  But he does give us a good view of the Orleans RR loop around the Clay statue.  We also have a good view of the trees which are between the inner tracks and the outer tracks on Canal Street from the Carondelet/Bourbon intersection outward.
Picture 45.3.
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This is a similar view to Picture 45, taken around the same time, but looking from the Custom House toward the uptown side of Canal Street.  Most notably, we can see a horsecar on the turntable on the outer side of the Clay statue, and we can see the double line of trees still gracing Canal Street out from Carondelet/Bourbon.  The dome of the original Maison Blanche building is prominent on the downtown side of Canal, at the right.  Horsecars can be seen all along Canal as far out as the trees, which obscure any cars on the tracks farther out.  Horse drawn vehicles of various kinds occupy the roadways on both sides of the neutral ground, going in both directions, passing one another on the right and on the left; there obviously were few if any rules for traffic.  The original of this picture is a trade card advertising Jersey Coffee. — Ward Bros.
Picture 45.6.
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Here is a third picture, a photograph this time, taken about the same time as the previous two (Pictures 45 and 45.3), 1883 to 1887.  It was published in 1900 in a popular magazine circulating primarily in New England, to illustrate an article about New Orleans.  The editor probably did not realize, or did not care, that by 1900, this picture was quite out of date.  The cross street in the foreground is Magazine/Decatur, so the photo was probably taken from a window or the roof of the Custom House.  We see the S curve that carried outbound Canal & Claiborne cars from a mid-street track alignment to the outer edge of the neutral ground.  The next track comes in to Canal Street at an angle from Magazine Street at the left, making a broad curve to become the inner lakebound track.  In the nearest block, there is a line of trees between these two tracks.  The next two tracks (looking right to left) are those of the Crescent City RR, leading to its turntable in front of the fountain which we can see at Camp/Chartres Streets.  Finally, the leftmost track is the inbound Canal & Claiborne track, which leaves the neutral ground for a mid-street alignment.  The next two blocks out are completely filled with horsecars and small street railway buildings, and devoid of greenery.  Beyond that, there is a double line of trees as far out as can be seen.  There are plenty of poles throughout the picture, probably carrying telephone and power lines, but none for electric streetcar purposes — not yet. — Northern Photo Art Co., published in The Granite Monthly, Vol. XXVIII, No. 3, March 1900, p. 128.
Picture 46.
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This view of Canal Street looks in toward Camp St. from St. Charles/Royal, with the uptown side of Canal Street in the background.  The business Moses' Photographic Gallery seen in the right background was listed in city directories (e.g., 1872 and 1883) as B. & G. Moses, Celebrated Photographic Gallery, established 1846, located at no. 1 Camp Street corner of Canal.  The horse cars we see are lettered “N. O. C. R. R. CO.” on the lowest side panel.  There are five tracks here.  In the foreground, we see the outer (left) and inner (right) lakebound tracks, which are not occupied at this moment.  The horse cars are on the two riverbound inner tracks, both of which turn into Camp Street ahead of the cars.  There is an outer riverbound track, unoccupied just now, out of sight behind these horse cars.  Compare the view in Picture 19, the view with the downtown side of Canal in the background in Picture 42, and the view from Magazine toward Camp in Pictures 64 and 65. — S. T. Blessing
Picture 47.
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A view of Canal Street from the upper floors of the Custom House, looking toward Camp Street.  We see several horsecars of the Crescent City RR near their turntable at Canal and Camp.  There is an ornate fountain at the Camp/Chartres intersection (see Pictures 66 ff), and a simple starter's house just this side of the fountain.  The dome seen faintly in the distance is the Immaculate Conception Church, also called Jesuit Church, one block up from Canal on Baronne Street. — S. T. Blessing
Pictures 48, 49, and 50.
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In 1871 as in 2005, New Orleans was subject to severe flooding.  The 1871 flood was caused by a huge rainfall and winds which blew the excess water into the city's drainage system, finally breaching the levees at Hagan Ave.  An artist from Every Saturday magazine, visiting the city at that time, provided several poignant pictures of homes, families, and busnesses in severe distress.  The top picture shows Canal Street at Claiborne.  The line of trees shows us where the neutral ground, with its four tracks, is under water, which appears to be about knee deep in the street.  On the right, we see a stagecoach trying to get around, but most people are using boats or improvised rafts.  There is a boy in the center foreground who is simply playing with his toy sailboat in the floodwater.  The middle picture shows a horsecar whose letterboard says Carondelet St.  This identifies the location as either St. Charles Street or Carondelet Street, probably only a few blocks up from Canal Street.  The bottom picture is again on Canal Street, looking toward the river, near the NOCRR horsecar depot, which was located on the site of the present Canal Station.  We see one horsecar behind the columns fronting the car barn, at the left.  The railroad ties in the center of the picture show how the horsecar track was devastated by the flood.  The steeple of Christ Church, at Canal and Dauphine, can be seen in the center distance, and the twin exhaust stacks of a paddlewheel steamboat are visible just beyond the church steeple. — Alfred R. Waud, Every Saturday, July 8, 1871
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Pictures 51 through 54.
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Four views up St. Charles Street from the Clay statue.  The top picture dates from before 1874, when the Clio line was extended across Canal Street.  The photographer must have erected a scaffold, putting him at the height of the Henry Clay statue; note Mr. Clay appearing to float in the left foreground.  At the time of this picture, all three lines of the St. Charles Street RR came down Carondelet, in Canal for one block, and then up St. Charles (away from the camera) to begin their return trips.  The two horsecars seen here are presumably awaiting their departure times.  The second picture gives us a closer view of two horsecars waiting to begin their trips uptown.  Note the signboards mounted lengthwise on the roofs of the two cars.  Unfortunately, we cannot tell whether they are route signs or advertising.  The third picture, taken from mid-block, shows well the ballast block paving and the single track.  Later, in 1881, a second track was built on this street, to our left from the track shown, for downbound traffic on the new Coliseum line of the Crescent City RR.  At that time, the upbound track shown in the three top pictures was moved over from the center of the street.  The bottom view shows the result, probably in the 1880s.  The photographer is standing on the steps of the Clay statue.  Part of the fence around it is seen in the foreground.  The curved track just beyond the fence is part of the Orleans RR loop around the statue.  St. Charles Street RR horsecar 17 is turning from Canal Street into the center layover track, where another horsecar ahead of car 17 is awaiting its departure time.  The other track at the right, which car 17 is crossing, is the track from Royal Street, behind the photographer.  For some obscure reason, the two tracks crossed each other.  The merging of the two upbound tracks can be seen just beyond the cars.  The downbound track for the Coliseum line is at the left; note the jog it takes to make room in the street for the upbound layover track.  In all four pictures, the old St. Charles Hotel (built about 1853, burned down in 1894) is in the background, and in the top and bottom pictures, the Pickwick Club is in the right foreground. — S. T. Blessing (first and third), J. F. Jarvis (bottom)
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Pictures 55 through 58.
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Four similar views up St. Charles Street from Canal.  We have clear views of the downbound track in St. Charles (on the left), and the two upbound tracks, the middle track from the Canal Street outer riverbound track, and the right one for cars crossing Canal from Royal Street.  The old St. Charles Hotel is in the background, at the bend in the street.  What looks like a horizontal flaw in front of the hotel image in the bottom picture is a wind-tangled banner stretched across the street.  In the top view, a carriage is giving its passengers a smoother ride by following the downbound tracks.  The sign along the top of the streetcar at the right advertises the railroad depots that the car serves: “ILL CENTRAL SO PACIFIC & PONT RRs”.  Note that every gentleman is wearing some variation of a derby hat. — Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection (top), G. F. Mugnier (lower middle and bottom)
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Picture 59.
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A view from the opposite direction, looking down St. Charles Street toward the Clay Statue on Canal Street.  There are at least five horsecars in this picture.  The nearest one, car 65, is proceeding uptown on one of the St. Charles Street RR lines.  Several wagons follow car 65, using its tracks to make their way easier.  One car, on the Coliseum line, is proceeding down, and has almost reached Canal.  There are two cars on the layover track in the center of St. Charles St. at Canal.  Another horsecar can be seen on Canal Street behind the Clay statue, either on the Orleans RR loop, or on the Canal & Claiborne through track. — J. F. Jarvis
Pictures 60 and 61.
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These two pictures were obtained from quite different sources, but they must have been taken by the same photographer only a few minutes apart.  Can you tell which picture was taken first?  We see horse-drawn floats in a Mardi Gras parade passing the Canal Street store of Marx Bros. Furnishers & Hatters, as mule-drawn streetcars sit on the neutral ground.  The next business to our left, at 101 Canal Street, is marked “C. A. Tyler's Son”.  The letterboard of car number 19, on the left, is signed for the Magazine Street line.  Its monitor roof is more modern than the roofs of the other streetcars in the picture, suggesting a date in the late 1880s or the early 1890s.  An ornamented octagonal building, presumably a starter's house, is seen between two of the streetcars.  One of the streetcars has a roof-mounted “Audubon Park” sign (a destination, not a route name, as New Orleans routes were usually named for the principal streets they traversed).  Two men (or boys) have climbed the pole in the left foreground for a good view of the parade.  Note the many umbrella-shaded watchers in the crowd, especially on the second-floor balconies.  The shadows tell us that it isn't raining, but the sun is hot in New Orleans, even in March! — Wittemann/Albertype (upper), collection of Tim Russell (lower)
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Picture 62.
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This view looks lakeward from a balcony at about Magazine Street (note the slats of the balcony railing in the foreground).  Prominent in the middle of the picture is an elaborate fountain on the Canal Street neutral ground at the Camp/Chartres intersection.  Beyond Camp Street, we see Magazine and Prytania horse cars of the New Orleans City RR on the inner tracks in the block between Camp and St. Charles.  Their turntable is on the river side of the Henry Clay statue, which is also visible.  Beyond Mr. Clay we can see the Christ Church steeple, which dates the picture to before 1883.  The remarkable thing about this picture is in our view of the Canal Street neutral ground closest to the camera.  We can make out the outer tracks on the edge of the neutral ground, just outside of the double line of trees, and one lakebound inner track, used by the Magazine and Prytania lines since 1861 to approach their turntable.  But the Crescent City RR turntable and approach tracks, thought to be used by the Tchoupitoulas line, are not there!  The Tchoupitoulas line was started in 1866, according to Hennick & Charlton, who state that its original route began from this missing turntable.  Research by Morris Hill into court records reveals that the original terminus of the Tchoupitoulas line was at Canal and Magazine, and the line was extended one block to Canal and Camp only in 1873.  So this picture must be dated 1873 or earlier. — Theo. Lilienthal
Picture 62.5.
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This remarkable stereoview is looking lakeward from a spot in front of the Custom House, seen at the right.  There are six tracks visible in this picture.  The two nearest tracks in the neutral ground appear to be the tracks to and from the turntable terminal of the French Market and the Levee & Barracks lines of the New Orleans City RR.  There is a horsecar on the right hand track, heading toward the turntable at Decatur Street, and just behind it (from our point of view) is another horsecar, barely visible on the next track, apparently just leaving the turntable.  The next pair of tracks (moving from right to left) appear to be the tracks of the Crescent City RR leading to and from the terminal of the Tchoupitoulas line.  There are three horsecars on the outbound track of this pair, on their way back to Tchoupitoulas Street (toward the camera) to begin their upbound run.  At the far left, we see another horsecar, apparently on the riverbound track of the Canal & Claiborne RR.  It is not certain whether this track is in the neutral ground or in the roadway, but see the caption of Picture 68 on this point.  (It is even possible that this track is in the neutral ground and that there is another track in the far roadway, making a possible total of seven tracks in this block!)  The track in the roadway at the right must be the lakebound track of the C&CRR.  We can see a curve in this track at the far end, at Decatur Street; this must be an S curve, bringing this line onto the neutral ground after it passes the NOCRR turntable.  Apparently, there was no more room in this block of the neutral ground in 1869 when the C&CRR built its “Grand Trunk Route” from Claiborne to the foot of Canal at Wells Street, so these tracks had to be laid in the roadway.  (However, there were six tracks in the neutral ground of the block of Canal between St. Charles/Royal and Carondelet/Bourbon.  Why this block was not treated the same is unclear.)  There appears to be a double line of young trees on the neutral ground in the next block, between Magazine/Decatur and Camp/Chartres.  That would indicate that the Tchoupitoulas line turntable had not yet been moved from its original location at Canal and Magazine, an extension which took place in 1873.  (See the caption of Picture 63.)  Thus, this picture was probably taken between 1869 and 1873.  Thanks to Morris Hill for much of this analysis of the picture.
Picture 63.
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This picture looks toward the river from Camp Street, just about the opposite direction from the two previous pictures.  The fountain at Camp St. is at the left side of the view.  The date is at least 1873, because, immediately to our right from the fountain, we have a good view of the turntable for the Crescent City RR Tchoupitoulas line, which was extended that year from Magazine Street to this point.  Several cars are moving away from us, with approaching cars barely visible beyond them on the adjacent track.  The outer riverbound track, momentarily empty of cars, is in the foreground.  In the next block, to our far right, we can see the terminal of the New Orleans City RR French Market and Levee & Barracks lines, in front of the Custom House.  Comparing this picture to Picture 62, we see that construction of the new Tchoupitoulas line terminal obliterated one of the two lines of trees we see in that picture.  It seems that trees must always give way to progress! — Mugnier
Picture 63.5.
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The photographer is looking across the Canal Street neutral ground toward the downtown side, standing at about St. Charles Street, looking toward Camp/Chartres.  The fountain at Camp Street is seen in the right background, with a horsecar behind it on the turntable for the Tchoupitoulas and S. Peters lines.  The track closest to the camera is the riverbound track of the Canal & Claiborne Company. The three horsecars in the foreground, on the Magazine and Prytania lines, have already turned on their turntable (which is out of the picture at the left), and are lined up on the two layover tracks awaiting departure time for their next upbound runs.  The tracks they are on can be seen to converge to one as they approach Camp Street at the right, then that track crosses the C&C track and turns into Camp Street.  We see two elegantly dressed ladies in ankle-length skirts walking toward the nearest horsecar, and blurred images of three other passengers following behind them.  Note the bridge over the open gutter.  In the background, the roof of the Custom House appears to be complete; that dates the picture to no earlier than 1881.  (There is a flaw at the right edge of the picture at Camp Street.) — S. T. Blessing
Pictures 64 and 65.
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These views look out toward the lake from about Magazine/Decatur.  In the upper picture, the horsecars have just been turned on the Crescent City RR turntable at Camp Street.  The tall, ornate fountain behind them, which can also be seen close up in Pictures 66 ff, is next to the turntable.  The track in the foreground is the outer riverbound track, belonging to the Canal & Claiborne Streets RR, and used by that company's (North) Claiborne and Tulane lines, and by the Crescent City RR Annunciation and Coliseum lines.  We can see a crossover between the CCRR inner tracks.  In the lower picture, we see two Crescent City horsecars near the same turntable.  The Magazine and Prytania lines of the New Orleans City RR use the curve in the right foreground to enter the right-hand track, the inner lakebound track.  The jog in front of the connecting switch appears to be a crossover between the New Orleans City RR inner track and the Canal & Claiborne Streets RR outer track, which is out of sight on the far side of the line of trees.  The blur at the left center of the lower picture is a horsecar in motion, apparently on the outer riverbound track.  Note the protective slats around the trunks of the young trees, which are only installed on the downtown side of the neutral ground.  Compare the double line of trees in Picture 62, before the CCRR turntable was built.  It appears that when the turntable was built, its approach tracks displaced the trees on the uptown side of the neutral ground.  In the upper picture, at the right, we see a sign for Darcy's at the top front of a building, and above that, what appears to be a gigantic top hat mounted on a pole. — S. T. Blessing (both)
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Pictures 66, 66.3, 66.5, and 66.7.
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Four closer views of the ornate fountain in the Canal Street neutral ground at the Camp/Chartres intersection, seen also in Pictures 46, 47, 62, 64, and 65.  The first is from an 1893 magazine engraving, with the caption “Canal Street Fountain.”  The second and third are from stereocards.  The back of the second is noted, in an apparently contemporary hand, “March 17 1880”.  The third is inscribed on the back of the card, also in an apparently contemporary hand, “Fountain on Canal Street New Orleans”.  In the second and third pictures, the fountain appears to be used to display advertising.  For example, the front center panel reads “E. A. Tyler / Watches & Jewelry / 115 Canal St.”  Also, there are at least two columns of signs under the dome carrying more advertising.  All three views are toward the river.  Note the still-incomplete Custom House in the left background.  The fountain is not centered in the neutral ground.  On our left, the downtown side of the street, we can see a track on each side of a line of trees.  To our right is another track, the outer riverbound track.  Unfortunately, we cannot see through the fountain structure to determine whether there is a horsecar turntable on the other side, but since the line of trees to the right (on the uptown side) seems to be missing in the second and third pictures, the turntable is probably there.  The fourth picture is from a double-page engraving in an 1871 magazine.  It features the gathering of a group from a fraternal organization called the Order of Heptasophs, or the Seven Wise Men, who are about to parade on Canal Street.  Note the banners marked “SWM”.  This view looks out from Camp/Chartres, where the fountain was located, toward St. Charles/Royal, where the Henry Clay statue can be seen.  Beyond that is the steeple of Christ Church at Canal and Dauphine Streets.  A horsecar is working its way toward the viewer, with the driver leaning over the side of the car encouraging the crowd to give him room to pass.  On the fountain itself, the roof panel facing us is inscribed “Belknap's Advertising Fountain”.  The two panels to the left and right of that one are marked “Louisville Route” and “Pan Handle R. R.”  Note the uniformed black man in the right foreground.  To our left from him we see a lady with full face veil standing demurely behind her husband.Scribner's Monthly, v. 7, no. 2, December 1873, p. 141 (top picture); S. T. Blessing (second picture); the third picture is anonymous, but probably was also taken by Blessing, at the same time as the second; Every Saturday, July 1, 1871, pp. 8-9, engraving signed E. Sears N.Y. (fourth picture).
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Picture 67.
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It is 1:30 in the afternoon on Mardi Gras day some time in the early 1890s.  One can make out at least two dozen horsecars stopped on Canal Street while the parade passes.  The ornate floats are typical of Mardi Gras, even today.  The members of the krewe and even their horses are costumed and masked.  We are looking outward, away from the river.  The ornate fountain at the Camp/Chartres intersection is prominent just left of center.  The nearest horsecars are operated by the New Orleans City Railroad on the French Market and the Levee & Barracks lines.  All of the horsecars in sight seem to have the older form of clerestory roof called the Bombay roof.
Picture 68.
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Two Crescent City RR horsecars, on the S. Peters or Tchoupitoulas lines, around 1890, approach Magazine Street on their way to Tchoupitoulas Street.  Between Camp/Chartres and Magazine/Decatur, there were five horsecar tracks, and between Magazine/Decatur and Peters, there were six.  The track in the foreground, turning from Magazine into Canal Street, was for the use of the Magazine and Prytania lines, approaching their turntable on the river side of the Clay statue at St. Charles/Royal Streets.  These lines departed Canal Street on Camp Street, one block out from here.  In the right foreground, we see a jog in the riverbound outer track of the Canal & Claiborne RR, bringing that track off of the neutral ground into the roadway.  (See the caption of Picture 62.5 for more on this alignment.)
Picture 69.
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Upbound horse car 133 on the Levee and Barracks line passes the old French Market as it travels N. Peters Street on its way to Canal Street, probably c. 1888. — Raphael Tuck & Sons
Picture 69.5.
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Look at all the horsecars!  This view shows how the multi-track system on Canal Street was just about at maximum capacity during rush hours.  We are looking toward the downtown side of Canal Street, toward the river, with the Touro Building in the left foreground.  The cross street just past the Touro Building is Royal Street.  The block in the foreground is the block between Bourbon/Carondelet, out of sight to our left, and Royal/St. Charles, where the Henry Clay statue is located.  At the far right, we can see cars on the loop curve where the Orleans RR lines terminate.  Beyond Mr. Clay, we can see the tracks of the City RR terminal for the Magazine and Prytania lines.  On our side of the statue, just to the right of center, we can see a horsecar being turned on the turntable of the Canal, Dauphine, and Esplanade lines of the City RR.  The track closest to the camera is the riverbound track of the Canal & Claiborne Co., shared with the Orleans RR and the St. Charles Street RR.  The closest car to the camera is an Orleans RR car, pulled by a white mule, on its way to the loop around the Clay statue.  Ahead of that car is one lettered for the Canal & Claiborne Co., on its way to the loop at the foot of Canal Street.  In this congestion, who knows how long it may take to get there! — Theo. Lilienthal

Text, captions, photos by R. Hill, and photos by the author, © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 H. George Friedman, Jr.  All rights reserved.  Permission is hereby given for the QUOTATION of SHORT excerpts, as long as credit is given to H. George Friedman, Jr.


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