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Canal Street: 1890s

Canal Street: 1890s

New Orleans in the 1890s. "Canal Street from the Clay monument." Dry-plate glass negative by William Henry Jackson, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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The Clay Monument would have been immediately behind the photographer. Interestingly, the numbering of addresses along Canal have been changed since the photograph was taken. There are two buildings on the right numbered 131 and 133. Those addresses now are several blocks south at the terminus of Canal at the Mississippi River. The location today is the 700 block of Canal. The view today is similar and some of the buildings may have survived under different facades as noted in this picture from September of 2008 taken from the same location.

The good old days

Ah, Werleins ... In 1996 I came all the way down from Belgium to buy a Deering tenor banjo at Werlein's. I'm sad to learn the shop has closed!


Werlein's is no longer there. The sign stood long after the store closed. It's now the Palace Cafe, which serves a Werlein Salad.


A mí me encanta la maraña de postes de la luz, crucetas y cables...


This beautiful scene reminds me of the greatest deficit of modern architecture: the lack of ornament (whichever style doesn't matter). The human eye needs to see surfaces that are alive, that are subdivided into recognizable forms, not just big blank surfaces.

Strings and Things

Pianos and Ladies' Underwear? What a combination.

Extra Texture

How magnificently textured our cities used to be. There had been a Philip Werlein music store in the city since the Civil War. An elderly descendant of the original owner (also named Philip) did radio spots for the store in the '70s and early '80s. He had that great old New Orleans accent:

"Guitaws, drums, pianas, awgans, 'n everything musical at Woi-lahnz!"

Werlein's closed almost ten years ago, and now houses the Palace Cafe.

Cat's Cradle

"Web" hardly does justice to the arrangement of electric (and telephone?) wires.

Also, thanks, Infrogmation, I was wondering about the cupolaed building. I'd guess the Chess, Checkers & Whist Club Building was a quiet oasis in the hurly-burly of the Big Easy.

My First Clarinet

I remember my father buying me my first clarinet at Werliens Music Store on Canal Street in 1967. I haven't been back to New Orleans in over 25 years so I don't know if the store is still in business.

A Streetcar Named Electric

The switch to electric streetcars began in 1894. That would allow for more than a year for changes to be made. They were delivered to New Orleans starting in 1896.

Broadway of the South

Great photo, looking lakewards (away from the Mississippi River) from Canal Street's intersection with St. Charles Avenue & Royal Street.

I think the photo is somewhat earlier than the given "circa 1898", as only mule cars are visible and no catenary; the Canal Street streetcar line was electrified in 1894 (with Brill semi-convertible electric cars ordered February 1894 and starting to run on the Canal Street line in August of that year). The photo is no earlier than 1890, however, from the presence of the Chess, Checkers & Whist Club Building (the building with the distinctive corner cupola at seen at left) at the uptown lake corner of Canal & Barrone.

The "Clay monument" mentioned but not seen was a statue of Henry Clay erected in the center of the intersection in 1860. With the electrificiation of streetcars in the 1890s, the slowing of traffic on the tracks around the monument became more of a bottleneck. After years of debate, the statue was moved to Lafayette Square in 1900, where it can still be seen today. Henry Clay, it was remarked at the time, was not a man to stand in the way of progress.

Infrogmation of New Orleans

Radio antennas

Or maybe they're buggy whips. What I would give to be a buggy whip salesman in that town!

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