The New Basin Canal, which terminated near the present-day
site of the Union Passenger Terminal and followed the route now taken by the Pontchartrain Expressway, served as the city's
link to the Lake from the 1830s until the 1950s.
Source: New Orleans Public Library--Crescent City Memory Collection
It was built between 1831 and 1838, by Irish immigrant
labor, claiming the lives of many men who work on its construction. The canal served as a transport route between downtown
New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
Pleasure seekers could take a mule-drawn barge, complete with musical entertainment,
along the New Basin Canal to the resort at New Lake End (now known as West End). This quote is from the Save Our Lakes website.
The New Basin Canal, was built by Irish immigrants. The arduous task of digging the canal through
snake-infested swamps began in 1832. In that same year, a cholera epidemic
hit the city and 6,000
people died in 20 days, many of whom were Irish.
When the canal opened for traffic in 1838, there were 8,000 Irish laborers
who would never see their homes again, having succumbed to cholera and
yellow fever. It was the worst single disaster
to befall the Irish in their
entire history in New Orleans.
Ironically, the New Orleans canal and banking
company which owned and built
the canal was founded by the aforementioned Maunsel White, and another
gentleman, Charles Byrne, was a major shareholder. Financially,
the canal was a success as it opened up trade with communities
Lake Pontchartrain and the cities of Biloxi, Mobile, and Pensacola on the
Gulf of Mexico. As the city
spread north, finally reaching the lake, its
usefulness began to decline. A fund was established to erect a
to the thousands of Irish who lost their lives building it.