New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, June 17, 2024
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Old Beach

Topic: The Old Beach
Posted by: Cathy at Sun Jun 23 23:28:22 2002
Don't wanna sound like Miss Know it All but I wondered if ya'll know why it's called "The Old Beach".

Please excuse me if you already know--I had no idea until I started looking up this stuff...

Pontchartrain Beach was originally located near what we call "The Old Beach". Pontchartrain Beach opened there in 1929 at what was then a very popular amusement area called "Spanish Fort". The remains of the old Spanish Fort (which was an active military fort in the 1700 nad 1800s are still there--along Bayou St. John near Robert E. Lee Blvd). After the fort was no longer needed the land was sold and various amusement park and resort companys took over. The area was known as "The Coney Island of New Orleans" and was quite famous throughout the country.

The land where the original Pontchartrain Beach and Spanish Fort was located was on the lakeshore. But NOW it is about 5000 ft. (almost a mile) from the lake. This is because during the 1920s and 30s land was "re-claimed" (meaning pilings were driven in the lake to create a barrior, the lake was blocked off, and dirt was pumped in. The result was the seawall, Lakeshore Drive, the green spaces and shelters, and subdivisions.

The old lakeshore roughly parallels the current Robert E. Lee Blvd. Land north of Robert E. Lee Blvd. used to be in the Lake.

Getting back to Pontchartrain Beach-- it moved to Elysian Fields at the Lake in 1939 and closed (as many of you remember) in 1983. At this location, it sat on re-claimed land bordering a man made beach.

If you remember the Lighthouse there (near the stage) you might be surprised to know that it was built in 1832 (I always thought it just a "beach" prop--like the giant clown head). It saved many lives and a women lighthouse keeper ther once sheltered hundreds of hurricane victims (not in the actual lighthouse which is quite small). The lighthouse was also originally IN the lake. The lighthouse now is part of the UNO Technology Park.

If you're interested in any of this or other facts about the history of the Lake go to the "Lake History" link you see on the left. And if you have information to add to the site, please do.