Monday, December 16, 2013

"Seasonal Will & Changing Moods"

In August 1918, the locally-published trade paper Building Review featured a story on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (AKA Industrial Canal). Morgan Dudley E. Hite (1882-1959), the newspaper's editor, summarized the excavation and piling work, volume of building materials, proposed water containment and anticipated completion date. His editorial also included his bird's eye view of the new canal, which is reproduced above. Hite was among those who envisioned the canal as a great advance:

"It has been objected that New Orleans 'has too much water' at her doors. The Inner Harbor-Navigation Canal Marks the beginning of the putting to use of this water in a scientific way, a proper placing and control of it, instead of as heretofore being subject to uncontrollable seasonal will and changing moods. Conservation at its best!

"When completed, this canal will rank with the half-dozen greater world canals -- only three now existing having a depth as great as the New Orleans undertaking -- the Panama, Suez and Kiel. Depth of sill-clearance of the locks is a test of the canal's greatness and importance -- the New Orleans lock will have 30 feet over the sill. It is by far the single greatest factor of port development yet undertaken by the Port Commissioners of New Orleans, and the engineering study of its economic factor destines it to be one of the nation's great and most highly co-ordinated industrial regions of the future, with every facility of modern commerce, transport by rail, river, canal, lake and ocean; for raw and finished product; banking facilities and a location in the heart of the South's greatest labor market."

The triplet buildings (4400 Dauphine Street) in the foreground space were completed under the  direction of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in 1919.  The Board of Commissioners, Port of New Orleans, leased two of the buildings after World War I. The Board also subleased spaces to individual commercial ventures. The property reverted to the U.S. War Department during World War II and the name of the complex was changed to the New Orleans Port of Embarkation. After the war, the structures were known as the New Orleans Army Terminal, and in 1966 the Navy assumed custody, renaming them as the Naval Support Activity. In 1973, administrative changes within the Navy resulted in significant alterations to the exterior and the surrounding site. These were undertaken by associated architects Waldemar S. Nelson; Nolan, Holcombe, Apatini & Seghers; Nolan, Norman & Nolan; James P. Oubre and August Perez & Associates. On 3 July 1975, the buildings were dedicated as the F. Edward Hebert Defense Complex. In October 2013, the City of New Orleans acquired the complex.

Morgan D.E. Hite, editor. "Details of Construction." Building Review (August 1918): pp. 20-21. Louisiana Research Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

See also: "Dedication Ceremony: F. Edward Hebert Defense Complex." Brochure. 1975. Project No. 1279. William T. Nolan Office Records, Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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