In 1869 the State Legislature granted to the New Orleans & Metairie Railroad Company
the right to extend its Canal Street track from the then terminus at the cemeteries to West End. As a feeder for this extension
the New Orleans City & Lake Railroad, which had succeeded to the New Orleans & Metairie Company,
leased from the city in 1880 for a period of thirty years the embankment above described.19 A platform •approximately 400 feet square was erected on the north side of the embankment, and thereon rose a large hotel, built
of wood; a restaurant building, and various structures intended to house amusements of one kind or another. The rest of the
embankment was laid out as a garden, and along one side ran a shell road which was much patronized by carriages. This was
known as the West End Lake Shore Park. For a long time it was very popular with pleasure seekers in the city. The lease provided
that at the expiration of the contract all the improvements at West End should become the property of the city. As the time drew near, the New Orleans Railway & Light Company, which had acquired the various properties
of the New Orleans City & Lake Railroad Company, sought an extension of the franchise. But the city officers
would consent only under condition contemplating very extensive improvements at West end. These the company was not willing
to accept. For three years the railroad was permitted to operate the resort on an annual agreement, in consideration for which
the place was maintained in good order and condition. In May, 1909, the company acquired Spanish Fort and began to improve it with a view to make it a lakeside resort which would be completely under its control.
In connection therewith transportation facilities had to be provided which could be most conveniently supplied by extending
the West End Road along the lake shore on Adams Street. An application was made to the city council for a franchise to cover
this •two-mile extension of the railroad. But it was evident that the development of Spanish Fort would operate injuriously upon West End, and Mayor Behrman, realizing that the city was without
funds with which to improve the latter point, took advantage of the opportunity to stipulate, as a condition of the desired
concession, that the company should loan the city the sum of $175,000 over and above the percentages fixed by the city charter
as compensation for the franchise. This arrangement was agreed to, and an act was passed by the State Legislature to authorize
p755the loan and fix the rate of interest thereon and method
of liquidation.20 The liquidation of the loan was to be effected out of the revenues from the West End Lake Shore
Shortly after this act went into effect the city undertook the development of West End
in accordance with a plan prepared by City Engineer W. J. Hardee in 1902. The first work was the construction
of a sea wall. This was located •500 feet out in the lake, north of the old embankment, and parallel thereto. The area thus inclosed was subsequently
filled in, and in this way •about thirty acres was added to the park. This wall was completed in July, 1912, at a cost of $68,255.34. The fill was
accomplished at an outlay of $45,152. In view of the limited area of the park, it was decided to exclude from it all
amusement features, but a part of the old lagoon, or reservoir, in the rear of the original embankment, was filled in with
a view to accommodate these enterprises. In this way a further area about 500 feet square has been created at the western
extremity. Among the features installed within the last few years is a great "prismatic fountain," which cost $24,000.
The total expenditures have been $352,000 — the amount over the sum loaned by the railroad company having been appropriated
by the city out of its reserve funds dedicated to public improvements.
The Spanish Fort property has been operated by the New Orleans Railway
and Light Company since 1909. They have spent a great deal of money in making a new and magnificent resort, embellishing
the place, erecting new structures, filling up the waste lands and making it a place for the people to have all the benefits
of the seashore and breathe the ozone without leaving the city at a very reasonable rate of transportation, the company now
offering a service unequalled to reach this point.
In 1874, a railroad was constructed between the Spanish
Fort resort and downtown New Orleans. Spanish Fort was sold four years later to Moses Schwartz who built a casino
with a restaurant and theatre in 1881. In 1903, the popularity of Spanish Fort declined as a result of the suspension
of steam railroad services. The buildings burned shortly after that time. In 1909, New Orleans Railway and Light
Company acquired and revived the Spanish Fort area.
Around 1932, the resort
closed to facilitate the implementation of the Orleans Parish Levee Board’s plans for development of the
lakefront from West End to the Industrial Canal.