New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Friday, May 26, 2017
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1950s


1954-1964 Lincoln Beach

Lincoln Beach Amusement Park was opened in 1954 and was a popular attraction for African Americans in New Orleans. It closed in 1964. On the stage at Lincoln Beach many extraordinary musicians performed, including Fats Domino, Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Ink Spots, Earl King, Papa Celestin, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Ernie K-Doe, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers, Deacon John, Guitar Slim.

1954-1964 Lincoln Beach

1956 The Causeway opens

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is completed as a two lain single span. It was at that time the longest bridge in the world. In 1956, The Causeway captured the title. When the second span of the Causeway was completed in the late 60's it became the 'World's Longest Bridge'. This postcard reads (on back) Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, World's Longest Bridge. Connecting New Orleans with the highlands to the north. It was completed in 1956. The Greater New Orleans Expressway System.

1956 The Causeway opens

1958 Pontchartrain Beach postcard

Features "Laff in the Dark"

1958 Pontchartrain Beach postcard

1958 The $10,000 Fish

The $10,000 fish THE CERAMIC JAX BEER MUG READS "1958 AWARD PRESENTED TO A TRUE FOLLOWER OF ISAAC WALTON AS A WINNER IN THE "JAX" GOLDEN GILL FISH HUNT". As the story goes (I can't verify this) THE JACKSON BREWING COMPANY TAGGED FISH, PUT THEM IN THE LAKE, AND AWARDED PRIZES TO FISHERS WHO CAUGHT THEM. I"M TOLD THAT THE $10,000 FISH WAS NEVER CAUGHT. But apparently some fish, with lower valued tags where caught, brought in, and awarded prizes from Jax.

1958 The $10,000 Fish

1958 Elvis was in the building...

Elvis Presley's movie "King Creole" included scenes filmed at a New Orleans lakefront camp. We're not sure which camp this was. 1958 - Elvis films King Creole Ending scenes feature (a not entirely succesful) escape from gangsters to a Lake Pontchartrain camp off Hayne Boulevard. Footage includes views of many camps in the area.

1958 Elvis was in the building...

Civil Defense Fallout Shelter atop the old New Basin Canal

The New Basin Canal was covered during the 1950's, resulting in the Pontchartrain Expressway and West End Blvd. The Civil Defense fallout shelter was built on top of the old canal--located a few blocks from the lake. This is an exterior view, ca. 1962. Today, new houses occupy this site. Source: http://nutrias.org/~nopl/photos/civildefense/civdef.htm

Civil Defense Fallout Shelter atop the old New Basin Canal

1954 - Papa Celstine Plays at Lincoln Beach

1884--1954 - Oscar (Papa) Celestin In 1954 "Lincoln Beach opened to a throng of 10,000 eager citizens, who spilled onto the elaborately landscaped midway and gathered around the stage where Papa Celestin's jazz band played... Source: New Orleans Magazine Pictured is the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra -- Left to Right: Bill Matthews, Guy Kelly, Papa Celestin, Jeanette Salvant, Narvin Kimball, Joe Lawrence, Chinee Foster, Joe Rouzon, Simon Marrero, Clarence Hall by Ted Gottsegen Papa Celestin was one of the most popular of New Orleans cornetists and considered a major player in the development of jazz. Arriving in New Orleans in 1906, Celestin became a member of Henry Allen Sr.’s Excelsior band in 1908. In 1910 Celestin started the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra which would become one of the most enduring bands with musicians like Peter Bocage, Louis Armstrong, Bebe Ridgley, Lorenzo Tio, Jr and Isidore Barbarin (guitarist Danny Barker’s grandfather). He began recording with his own groups for Okeh until the depression forced him to give-up the group. During World War II he was found working in a shipyard. After the war Celestin reformed his band and began recording for various companies and doing live broadcasts from local radion stations. He was also a mainstay and tourist attraction on Bourbon Street until his death. In view of the tremendous contribution Celestin made in jazz throughout his lifetime, the Jazz Foundation of New Orleans had a bust made and donated to the Delgado Museum in New Orleans. Source: http://www.redhotjazz.com/papa.html

1954 - Papa Celstine Plays at Lincoln Beach

1954 Sharky Bonano (rare photo) at Lenfant's

Rare photo of Sharkey performing (as a wedding gift) on May 15, 1954 at the wedding reception of Sharkey's grand-niece, Phyllis Sanders and her groom, Gerald Duplantier. Phyllis is the daughter of Gladys Quarrella and Gerard Sanders. Gladys is the daughter of Marie Bonano (Sharkey's older sister) and John Quarrella. The reception was held at Lenfant's in New Orleans. According to Margo Duplantier Rhinehart (who shared this information as well as the photo) "Marie Bonano was 10-11 years older than Sharkey. Marie told me that it was she who bought Sharkey his first cornet. I'm under the impression that Marie had a hand in Sharkey's upbringing in his later childhood. She and Sharkey were definitely close. I remember him visiting us often. Marie lived with us from before the time I was born until her death when I was age 22. Actually, we were four generations living in one house for as long as I can remember." Thanks to Margo Duplantier Rhinehart for this information and photograh.

1954 Sharky Bonano (rare photo) at Lenfant's

Guitar Slim & Little Richard perform at Lincoln Beach

1950s or 60s Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones made a musical name for himself in New Orleans in the 1950s, and had a million seller with The Things That I Used To Do...His musical descendants include Ray Charles, James Brown, and Jimi Hendrix. On National Public Radio (NPR), Don Gonyea talks with music writer Paul Trynka about blues singer and guitarist Guitar Slim. Trynka is the editor of the London-based music magazine, Mojo (www.mojomagazine.com), and recently wrote about Slim ("Wild Thing" by Paul Trynka/March 2000). The music in this interview (click on the link below) is from the recording, Guitar Slim: Sufferin' Mind (Specialty Records, Inc./ SPCD-7007-2) (13:30). See: http://search.npr.org/cf/cmn/cmnps05fm.cfm?SegID=73534 for more information

Guitar Slim & Little Richard perform at Lincoln Beach

1955 & 1956 - Elvis Was There

On Thursday, September 1, 1955 Elvis Presley perfomed onstage at Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park. Advertising for the show stated: "The Fireball Star of Records and the famous Louisiana Hayride" is featured on this Hillbilly Jamboree honoring local DJ Red Smith, together with a 1955 "Miss Hillbilly Dumplin'" competition, in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. Source: http://www.randomhouse.com/BB/promos/elvisdaybyday/1955.html

1955 & 1956 - Elvis Was There

1953 New Neighborhoods

Land reclaimed from the lake (some 5000 ft. from the old shore) during the 20s and 30s resulted in the demise of the camps, resorts, and amusement area in Milneburg, Spanish Fort, and much of West End. The results included the seawall, Lakeshore Drive, some green space, and many new homes. These neighborhoods were developed with deed restrictions imposed by the Levee Board. Lake Terrace, opened in 1953, contained 440 residential lots and 93 acres of park space in the area bounded by Lake Pontchartrain, London Avenue Canal, Robert E. Lee Boulevard and Bayou St. John. Photo shows The London Avenue Canal, as it entered the Lake in 1948, with the Naval Air Station on the right and, what is now Lake Terrace on the left. Photo credit: http://nutrias.org/~nopl/monthly/sept98/sept985.htm

1953 New Neighborhoods

1958 LSUNO opens

Formerly the U.S. Navy Air Station, the Louisiana State University of New Orleans site was acquired in 1956 under a 99-year lease. After renovation of existing buildings, classes were offered in 1958. The school, late re-named the University of New Orleans, became a full four-year university in 1961. The photo show the general area in 1948, and includes the air station and Pontchartrain Beach. During the 1930s this area would have been known as "Milenburg"--the local pronunciation of Milneburg.

1958 LSUNO opens

1958.

The New Orleans lakefront at the site of the old Pontchartrain Beach, August, 1958. NOTE that Pontchartrain Beach was originally located near Spanish Fort (where this photo was shot). It moved to Milneburg (at Elysian Fields and the Lake in 1939). Even today, locals call the location of this photo "The Old Beach" but few probably know why it is called this. Photograph by Jerry Bray. City Hall Public Relations Office. Source: http://nutrias.org/photos/recent/morerecent4/recent291.htm

1958.

1952 - Pontchartrain Beach Ad -- Cool Carefree Fun

1952 Sunday Newspaper Magazine Ad (4 l/2 x 7 l/2 inches)

1952 - Pontchartrain Beach Ad -- Cool Carefree Fun

1956-Elvis Presley Paper Fan from Pontchartrain Beach

Apparently issued during Elvis' performance onstage at Pontchartrain Beach.

1956-Elvis Presley Paper Fan from Pontchartrain Beach

1958 Pontchartrain Beach Ticket

1958 ticket says "This ticket is redeemable at any Merchandise Store, Ride, Amusement Game, Restaurant, Food or Confection Stand at Pontchartrain Beach, New Orleans, Louisiana. "

1958 Pontchartrain Beach Ticket

1959 Bali Hai was the Beach Comber???

A 1959 CERAMIC POLYNESIAN DRINK CUP FROM "THE BEACH BEACH-COMBER" AT PONTCHARTRAIN BEACH. THE "BEACH-COMBER EXISTED FOR ONLY ONE YEAR (I'M TOLD) BEFORE BEING RE-NAMED "THE BALI-HAI. Look closely at this glass (as opposed to the one below it) to see that "Beach-Comber" was later replaced with "Bali-Hai".

1959 Bali Hai was the Beach Comber???

1950s - West End Park

This view of West End Park dates from the area's heyday as a center for traditional New Orleans seafood restaurants. Two old favorites, Fontana's and Swanson's--both long out of business, are shown here. Source: http://nutrias.org/~nopl/monthly/dec98/dec987.htm

1950s - West End Park

1951-New Basin Canal

The New Basin Canal, just south of Carrollton Avenue, 1951.

1951-New Basin Canal

1955 - The Sewerage and Water Board drains Bayou St. John

By the mid-1950s, Bayou St. John again needed sprucing up. This unusual shot of a waterless waterway shows the bayou in July of 1955. That summer the Sewerage and Water Board drained the bayou to clean out trash and aquatic growth that were causing, literally, a big stink. [Louisiana Photograph Collection. Municipal Government Collection; Sewerage and Water Board Series] Source: http://nutrias.org/~nopl/exhibits/ccmem/10.htm

1955 - The Sewerage and Water Board drains Bayou St. John

1951-Ernie K-Doe Performs at Lincoln Beach

By age 15, Ernie had won a talent contest sponsored by radio station WMRY at segregated Lincoln Beach. Note: This photo of Ernie was not shot at Lincoln Beach. Source: http://www.bluesartstudio.at/NeueSeiten/LEKD01.html

1951-Ernie K-Doe Performs at Lincoln Beach

1953 Photo -- Clown Head

at Pontchartrain Beach

1953 Photo -- Clown Head

1953 Zephyr

at Pontchartrain Beach

1953 Zephyr

1952 - Southern Railway's Southerner

The Southerner, the Southern Railway's streamlined New Orleans to New York passenger train, crosses Lake Ponchartrain near New Orleans, 1952. Source: http://nutrias.org/~nopl/exhibits/choochoo/page4.htm

1952 - Southern Railway's Southerner

1952 - Southern Railway's Southerner

The Southerner, the Southern Railway's streamlined New Orleans to New York passenger train, crosses Lake Ponchartrain near New Orleans, 1952. Source: http://nutrias.org/~nopl/exhibits/choochoo/page4.htm

1952 - Southern Railway's Southerner

1954 Fire wipes out 2,800 feet of Southern Railroad's New Orleans to Slidell Trestle

"Flames leaped from the Lake Pontchartrain trestle illuminating the ripples of surrounding water in the early morning of June 7, 1954. That fateful morning, 2,800 feet of the trestle was destroyed. While the bridge timbers were still smoldering, however, Southern began reconstruction of the trestle - a job that took Southern crews working around the clock only an incredible 12 days. Photo shows Here is how the Lake Pontchartrain trestle looked during repair work in 1954 after fire wiped out 2,800 feet of Southern's gateway to New Orleans." Source: http://southern.railfan.net/ties/1975/75-9/boat.html

1954 Fire wipes out 2,800 feet of Southern Railroad's New Orleans to Slidell Trestle

1950s? Pontchartrain Beach Aerial View

1950s? Pontchartrain Beach Aerial View