Thursday, October 17, 2013

Street Cars & Population Growth

One hundred years ago, The Daily Picayune featured a long story about New Orleans population growth associated with street car expansion. The New Orleans Railway and Light Company had historically been reluctant to invest new tracks in areas with few inhabitants, but new management adopted a "build it and they will come" perspective. The Carrollton Avenue and Gentilly Terrace neighborhoods were highlighted as positive examples:

"Perhaps the most striking effects a street car line can have on the distribution of population is shown in the extension of the Villere line by the Edgewood Addition and Gentilly Terrace. This line was only prolonged to take in these spots in 1910, yet within the short period intervening between then and now there has been built up the first true suburb to the city, excluding the Lakeview property."(1)

Early twentieth-century streetcar expansions included the development of the Louisiana Avenue  and Audubon Boulevard lines. Since property values along the Carrollton Avenue and Clio Street lines had significantly increased, investors flocked to purchase lots along the proposed new corridors.(2) The Louisiana Avenue line was viewed as especially promising for real estate development, since the route offered a direct link between mercantile Canal Street and Harvey Canal industries.

Image above: Unidentified photographer. New Orleans Railway & Light Company Streetcars. 14 July 1913. Miscellaneous Photographs Collection, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

(1)R.P. Porter. "Street Cars and the Movement of Population in New Orleans." The Daily Picayune (26 October 1913): p. 33.

(2)See, for example certain records in the Martin Shepard Office Records & Guy Seghers Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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