George T Beauregard (General P G T Beauregard, CSA) built an overhead cable car line in New Orleans, Lousiana in 1869 or 1870. The car ran on a track and gripped a cable that ran above. In Beauregard's experimental installation, the cable was powered by a steam locomotive at each end of the line.
Henry Casebolt later built a similar line in Piedmont, California. Casebolt's grip was similar to Beauregard's; Casebolt appears to have infringed upon Beauregard's patents, but as far as I know was never sued for it.
We visited New Orleans in 2014 and I forgot to take a photo of General Beauregard's home. However, this article gives a good excuse to display my vacation photos:
New Orleans Visit - 2014
The alarm went off at 3am on Saturday and we got ready to go. The cat did not want to get up. The car came at 4:35am and took us to San Francisco International Airport. There was a huge line for Southwest. We checked in and soon after boarded our flight. It arrived in Phoenix on time and most of the passengers got off, but we stayed on for New Orleans.
The 737 taxied most of the way to New Mexico before it took off. I enjoyed looking out the window at the clouds and their shadows. I got my first view of the Mississippi River. We landed at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. I later learned that the MSY code comes from the airport's original name, Moisant Field. Pioneering aviator John B Moisant died near New Orleans on 31-December-1910.
A car met us and took us to the Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street in New Orleans. It is an impressive looking place. Our room was not ready, so they gave us two vouchers for the Carousel Bar and Lounge. The Carousel was jammed with people, including a group taking wedding photos, so we explored and found the rooftop pool and bar. We sat in the sun until our room was ready. The room itself was nicely decorated and was kept neat and tidy.
We left the hotel and found our way to Jackson Square and the Saint Louis Cathedral. There was a good crowd for 5 o'clock mass. I think most of the people there were tourists. The celebrant gave a nice homily on the parable of the sower. The interior of the church was beautiful.
There was a second collection for the conservation and restoration of the cathedral.
After mass, we walked down to the river and took a look. Then we got on a Riverfront streetcar to Canal Street. The driver who brought us into town had mentioned that the buffet at Harrah's was good. The food was ok, but it was too expensive.
We got on a Canal Street streetcar and rode back to Royal Street. We stopped at a Walgreen's near the hotel and got some water and soft drinks and two three-day JazzyPasses. We went back to our room and took it easy for the rest of the evening.
On Sunday, our first full day in New Orleans, we got up feeling good after a quiet night's sleep. We left the Hotel Monteleone and took a walk over to Bourbon and Canal. While waiting for the light, I took a photo of Saint Charles Avenue car 972 laying over at Canal and Carondelet. The Saint Charles Avenue line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the US, having operated since 1835. It uses cars built by Perley Thomas car works in High Point, North Carolina in the 1920s.
We went to the Café du Monde, which has operated in the French Market in New Orleans since 1862. The entire menu is: beignets, café au lait, coffee, milk (white or chocolate) and orange juice. I would have liked to see their powdered sugar delivery. We ate there three times. I could have done more. Here we see two orders (six) of beignets (ben-yay).
After breakfast, we strolled through the shops in the French Market. We heard thunder and then it started to rain. We stayed under the collonade and watched the rain fall.
After the rain slackened, we went to find the Palm Court Jazz Café, where I had hoped to eat, hear some music, meet the Jazzology people in the shop and give my condolences about the recent passing of George H Buck, Jr. We were sad to see that the Café was closed for summer vacation.
The farebox used on the cars is electronic and it can handle single fares, transfers, or passes. The first time we used our three day passes, we put them in the slot on the farebox and it validated them and printed the to and from dates in big characters. The motormen spend a lot of time helping visitors pay their fares. Most were very patient.
We got off at Canal Street and walked past the ferry terminal to the Riverwalk Mall, which people kept telling us was the biggest urban outlet mall in the country. It was very cold inside, so while my wife shopped I went out on the levee and watched the traffic on the river.
We took a Canal Street car back up to Royal and dropped off some items at the hotel. We walked over to Carondelet and got on a Saint Charles Avenue car. I did not get the number. Here we see it about to make the turn from Canal to Saint Charles. A huge crowd got on at the first stop on Saint Charles.
We had to get off about Erato Street because of track work. I loved the Garden District streets with classical names. We got on a bus, which took us to Louisiana Avenue.
Sunday night we went to the Pelican Club on Exchange Place, where we had an excellent three course dinner. For the appetizer, my wife had calamari with a soba noodle salad. I had crab cakes and shrimp "With a Fried Green Tomato, Pineapple-Jalapeno Chutney and Remoulade Sauce." They may have been the best crab cakes I have ever eaten. For the entrée, my wife had the filet mignon with a crab and shrimp cake. I had seared yellowfin tuna "and Chinois Salad With Soy Wasabi Glaze and Avocado." I'm not a big fish eater, but I enjoyed every bite. For dessert, my wife had vanilla bean and brandy créme brulee and I had a white chocolate bread pudding. The food was all good, as was the service. We would go back.
We went back to the hotel and relaxed the rest of the evening.
My wife kept remarking that everyone was walking down the street with a drink in a plastic cup. I was shocked when I saw a young guy with a beer can in a bag. I guess open beer cans are not allowed in the street.
Stations on the Riverfront line have especially nice signage. I should also mention that all the stations on the Riverfront line have center platforms. The cars use their left-hand doors.
After breakfast, we went to look for the stop on the New Orleans Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour. My father always said it was good to take a tour bus around a new city. It is a good way to learn the lay of the land and see things one might want to explore in more detail. We caught a red double-decker bus at the French Market and the driver said we could buy tickets at the Basin Street Station. We had seats upstairs, but after Basin Street, we had to sit downstairs. The bus was packed.
We liked the narrator and she said the next bus wouldn't be along for 40 minutes or more, so we stayed on the bus. She talked about the Faubourg Marigny, the Treme, and Black Storyville.
We bought our tickets in the lobby. They were strings of beads with a jester figure. The tour led us into a room surrounded by Mardi Gras figures; some of them looked familiar from Disneyland and Downtown Disney. Guests could put on costumes and hats and pose with the figures.
We sat down and watched a video about the Mardi Gras season and the many parades. Then the guide talked about the origins of Mardi Gras.
We followed her into the studio, where artists were working on figures and decorations for next year. I think the guide said that Blaine Kern Studios builds the floats for 16 Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, and for many theme parks and other organizations around the world.
Then we were turned loose in the warehouse, where we could see complete floats and many stored figures. Most of the floats belonged to the Krewe of Orpheus.
When we were done, we found that the rain had stopped. We boarded another bus and got seats on the upper deck. We passed the Convention Center and went on past the foot of Canal Street and into the French Quarter on Decatur Street. We liked the narrator on this bus, so we decided to stay on for another loop around.
I did not get to ride the new Loyola Avenue streetcar line to visit the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT). The line opened in January, 2013.
NOUPT is a modern station which opened in 1954. Today the station serves three Amtrak trains, the City of New Orleans, the Crescent and the Sunset Limited, and Greyhound buses.
I went through Lee Circle twice on the streetcars and twice on the hop-on hop-off buses and never saw the statue of General Lee, just the base of the column. Just as well.
The Confederate Museum was nearby, in a building designed by William Richardson. We didn't go so I couldn't say anything unfortunate.
We would have gone to the National World War II Museum if we had spent another day in New Orleans. I hope we'll visit again.
Back at the French Market, we got off the bus. We had dinner at a small place where a jazz quartette was playing. The saxophone player had a talent. We both had po'boy sandwiches. My wife's had fried oysters and mine had shrimp.
the Old Ursuline Convent is supposed to be the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. This is the second building on the site. The building was completed in 1751. After the convent and girls' school moved to other sites, the building served as the home of the Bishop and then the Archbishop of New Orleans.
We found our way back to the Hotel Monteleone and had a quiet evening because the shrimp po'boy disagreed with me.
Tuesday was our last full day in New Orleans, so I ran around taking photos of things I had not yet caught, like the huge grandfather clock in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone.
We had breakfast at IHOP, a family tradition on vacations, and went to catch an outbound Canal Street car at Bourbon Street.
We caught car 2001 outbound on Canal, headed for the Cemeteries. We talked to a young lady who turned out to be from San Francisco. She was exploring New Orleans while waiting for some friends. When we got back to the foot of Canal, we suggested taking a Riverfront car. We saw many Catholic Churches.
This facility was badly flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Most of the red cars for the Canal and Riverfront lines were ruined. Carrollton Station (carbarn and shops) for the Saint Charles Avenue line survived unscathed, but the line was badly damaged. Green Saint Charles Avenue cars ran on Canal Street and Riverfront for some time until the red cars could be refurbished.
When we got to the foot of Canal Street, we went to the ferry terminal. Read about my first ride on the Mississippi River, from the foot of Canal Street to Algiers Point, on my San Francisco Bay Ferryboats page. Today/Other Places/New Orleans 2014.
Back at Canal Street, we found another huge crowd waiting for the Riverfront line. We jumped on 459, which was outbound. The motorman stopped at Julia Street and said "Convention Center. End of the line. Everyone out." We got out and realized that we were not at the Convention Center. We waited a while till he came back. It started to rain.
The rain was very heavy as we tried to work our way through the French Market. We wound up at Café du Monde and had a late snack.
The rain stopped when we were done, so we walked back through the French Quarter, stopping at Faulkner House Books in Pirate's Alley. We bought a collection of his essays on the French Quarter and Soldiers' Pay. The clerk said he had written both in that same room. We talked a bit about Sherwood Anderson, and about similarities between San Francisco and New Orleans in the way we regard reality.
We went on to the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum in Royal Street. Downstairs they had an exhibit on the Boswell Sisters. Upstairs they had a permanent exhibit on the history of New Orleans. It was worth a visit.
We went on to the hotel and put our feet up for a while. I went to sleep.
We walked down to the French Market and had dinner at the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen. The food was good but service was agonizingly slow.
We walked up to Saint Peter Street just in time to get in line at Preservation Hall. When a staff member reminded people that there were no drinks, no food and no bathrooms, a lady ahead of us wanted to know how they could do that. She and another woman later left the line after complaining that the charge was $15 each.
We wound up standing for the 8 o'clock show by the Preservation Hall-Stars. It was worth it. Drummer Shannon Powell led the band and did some of the singing. I didn't catch the names of the pianist, bass player, trumpeter, clarinetist or trombonist. They did "Shake It and Break It," "Bourbon Street Parade," a sing-along of hymns, and other pieces.
We went back to the hotel and packed our bags.
Wednesday we woke up a little later than usual. After we got dressed and reviewed the contents of the room and our luggage, we took a walk down Royal Street to Café Beignet. We sat outside in a garden next to the 1827 Bank of Louisiana Building, which is now a police station. Coming from San Francisco where buildings older than 1906 are rare and buildings older than the 1850s are almost nonexistent, I loved seeing all the 18th and early 19th Century buildings in New Orleans. I liked the Café du Monde's beignets better.
We went downstairs about 10:30 to check out, then sat in the lobby for a while as it filled up with people from an organization called Tales of the Cocktail, a yearly festival "This New Orleans festival, in its 11th year, brings together the world’s top mixologists, bartenders, and chefs for five days full of cuisine, culture, and most importantly -- cocktails." They appeared to be a lively bunch.
We went outside to wait and found Royal Street jammed with trucks and buses, school buses from Thomas Built, the descendant of the company that built the Saint Charles Avenue streetcars. We saw a car go by about 12:30, and then my wife got a call, which turned out to be from the driver. He was over by the Walgreen's. He gave us a nice ride to the airport.
We had no trouble checking in and getting through the TSA area. We went through the scanners in both San Francisco and New Orleans.
We got to the gate in plenty of time and had lined up to board our 2:35 flight to LAX when the gate agent announced that we could not board because they did not have a pilot and copilot. They were stuck on a flight that was late coming in. This was interesting because the boards did not list any flights as being delayed.
I suggested we eat lunch. We went to a Subway which was staffed by some people who appeared to hate their jobs. Then we sat down at the gate and waited.
Then they told us to move to another gate with another airplane. My wife heard a pilot berate the gate agent and ask why they had moved us from a gate with a good airplane. This turned out to be because the airplane in the new gate had struck a bird on its way from Houston. They were waiting for an email from Houston to get permission for a contract mechanic to look at the engine to see if the turbine blades had been damaged.
Houston gave permission. The contract mechanic came out, found that the turbine blades had been damaged, and the plane was not safe to fly.
After a while, the gate agent announced that they were trying to find a new plane for us. Later he announced that a plane was being sent from Houston and should be there about 5pm. We were not happy.
Then the gate agent said he was leaving for the day. The lady at the desk was trying to help people rearrange connections. Before the gate agent left, he said a supervisor was coming to help the lady at the desk.
Another agent came to hand out $100 vouchers. The problem is, to use them, we'd have to fly Southwest again.
At one point the lady at the desk announced that she could help people going to Oakland and San Francisco right away. We got in line. Another lady joined her, but she was definitely not a supervisor. We were in line for almost an hour. They helped the Oakland people. When someone asked about San Francisco people, the new woman told them to get back in line. When we finally got to the front of the line, the original lady said she could reroute us through Phoenix. She gave us new boarding passes and we went back to the original gate.
We found that the Phoenix flight was very late. I got in line to ask if we would miss the San Francisco flight. The lady at that desk announced that San Francisco people shouldn't worry. That flight was very late. They would hold it if needed.
We waited for the Phoenix flight. The lady at the desk kept announcing that it would be later and later. I walked by the other gate and found that the LAX flight had left. We talked to another man who was trying to get to San Francisco so his wife could pick him up from Santa Clara. Our boarding passes were for group C, which was the last to board, even though we had paid extra for priority boarding. We were in group B for the flight from Phoenix to San Francisco. The agent said she couldn't do anything about it and we should get a refund.
My wife was crying when the flight left at 9pm. We couldn't sit together, but at least we were in consecutive rows.
The flight got to Phoenix after 11pm at gate C1. The crew told us that the San Francisco flight was being held at C14. We ran. We got seats together on that flight.
We got to San Francisco after 1am. We were supposed to get there at 7:30pm, so we were 5 1/2 hours late. It took a long time for our luggage to come. We didn't think it had made the transfer in Phoenix, so we were happy to see it.
The driver came pretty quickly and we walked into the house at 2am. The cat was happy to see us.
My wife's primary comments on the Southwest situation were that they gave us very little information and many of the staff did not seem to care. Several people remarked that Southwest was having a system-wide meltdown, but I couldn't find anything about it on the internet or in the newspaper.
Some thoughts for our next trip to New Orleans:
We loved New Orleans and would be happy to go again. We were not happy with the ride home, which left us frustrated and exhausted. I don't blame New Orleans for that.
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Copyright 2005-2014 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-September-2014