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Maison Blanche: 1910

Maison Blanche: 1910

New Orleans in 1910. "Maison Blanche, Canal Street." Continuing our tour of Crescent City retailers. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.


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Matrix Sign?

I'm really intrigued by what appears to be a matrix sign above Kaufmans.

A count of the "pixels" seems to indicate 10 smaller matrices, each of 25 x 20 bulbs, making a total of no less than 5,000 bulbs!

Obviously this is far too old to use any sort of digital technology, but I'd have thought a matrix of that size would have been pretty unmanageable with even electro-mechanical switching.

Unless it's just a panel of thousands of small bulbs to make a bright rectangle (can't see the point in that) my best guess is it must have relied on something like punched paper tape running though a whole bank of 5,000 microswitches or something.

Does anyone know any more about this? Are there any shots of it at night? If so (and if I'm right) - it must have been the wonder of the day!

"Buffalo Dental Parlors"

Must have used really big chairs and spit sinks.

Shop at M.B.

This was the second Maison Blanche store building at the same location at the downtown lake corner of Canal and Dauphine Streets, completed in 1909. Photo dates from between the completion of the Audubon Building (the lower high-rise to the left) in 1910 and the construction of the Krauss Store building in the empty space between them in 1913.

New Orleans seems to have kept its old business district department stores longer than many U.S. cities, so I have fond memories of shopping Maison Blanche -- though I wound up purchasing more at it's lower-priced competition, Krauss's, over on Basin Street, the last of the old Canal Street department stores to fold in 1997. However regulars knew that if you came to Canal Street by car you could still get your free parking validated on the 3rd floor at M.B. even if you didn't make a purchase.

The department store occupied the bottom 5 floors of the building. Above was office space -- into the 1980s, still with old direct-current elevators. The store was bought by Dillards and briefly closed down in 1984, then reopened only occupying 3 floors for a few more years.

The Maison Blanche building now houses the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

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