Today in New Orleans History

January 11

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Work at West End
January 11, 1939


The 1920’s and 1930’s brought tremendous change to the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, much of it still visible today.  Massive land reclamation from West End to just east of the Industrial Canal left the Spanish Fort and Milneburg attractions a half mile or so offshore. Milneburg camps were demolished. Some were moved by their owners to N.O. East along Hayne Boulevard and to Little Woods. Reclaimed land fronting Milneburg became Pontchartrain Beach and the Lake Terrace and Lake Oaks subdivisions.

Pictured here is work in progress to backfill near West End in preparation of building the municipal yacht harbor which would be "...second to none in the South" according to the photo's caption written by the Works Progess Administration (WPA).   The new harbor was built by the WPA and the city of New Orleans.

The Spanish Fort amusement area (with the exception of the orginal Pontchartrain Beach) closed in 1926. The Southern Regional Research Laboratory now abuts what was the old Spanish Fort resort property. Before the reclamation, the lakeshore reached approximately to what is now Robert E. Lee Boulevard, which was then named Adams Avenue.

In 1926, the New Orleans Levee Board began driving pilings which would support sheet metal to be filled to reclaim land along the lakeshore at Milneburg. Within a few years the Milneburg Light would be on dry land surrounded by the Pontchartrain Beach amusement park. The land reclamation resulted in the end of Milneburg as a treasured lakeside summer spot. It was deactivated in 1929. Built on piers in the lake with an adjacent keeper’s house it would later be surrounded by concrete in Kiddieland at the Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park. Having withstood the ravages of Hurricane Katrina this century and a half old structure can now be found in the University of New Orleans Technology Center.

By 1937 the New Orleans Lakeshore Drive had been coined the "Great White Way". It was said to have one of the finest lighting systems in the South. While the massive reclamation project was taking place on the New Orleans shore, across the lake in Mandeville the WPA had plans to “beautify” the northern shore as well. A seawall was completed there in 1938. By the 1940’s the New Orleans seawall stretched from West End to the Lakefront Airport. 

Established in 1838 and first lit in 1901, the New Canal Light (pictured in the center of the photo) sat at West End and what was the entrance to the New Basin Canal. Francis D. Gott was awarded the contract to build this light as well as the Port Pontchartrain and Pass Manchac lighthouses. In 1855 a new lighthouse  replaced the original.  The current West End/New Basin Light was built in 1890 and moved to its current location in 1910. It was one of the few structures to survive the 1903 Cheniere Caminada storm when its female keeper Caroline Riddle housed survivors there. It was damaged during hurricanes in 1926 and 1927, after which it was raised on raised on concrete piers. In 1936 the breakwater around the station was filled in, placing the light on dry land. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, in 2005, the lighthouse was badly damaged and lack of care resulted in it collapsing months after the storms. The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation lovingly restored it via public and private funding.  The lighthouse now welcomes visitors inside to view historic and contemporary displays

The original Southern Yacht club was established in 1849 and is the second-oldest yacht club in the United States.  It could be considered the grandest camp ever built on Lake Pontchartrain while a small fisherman’s shack in Bucktown might have been the simplest but all were treasured because to live on the lake was a unique and rare experience. The second clubhouse (left of center in the photo) burned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and has been rebuilt.

Photo from the New Orleans Public Library. Text from  Lake Pontchartrain (LA) (Images of America)

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Super Bowl IV was hosted on January 11, 1970 at Tulane Stadium.  Al Hirt and Marguerite Pizza performed Basin Street Blues at halftime.

January 11, 1939 photo of the beginning of work on the Robert E. Lee bridge over the Orleans Canal.
Photo of blacktopping work on Gentilly Boulevard at Allen Street on  January 11, 1939

Born in New Orleans on November 19, 1848, Warren Easton was Louisiana's first superintendent of education from 1884 to 1888. On October 11, 1888 he was elected the first superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools which, at that time had 414 teachers and 24,800 students in 51 schools.  In 1910, when he died in office, the teacher count had risen to 1,122 teachers of 38,098 students in day classes at 87 schools and 105 teachers of 4,035 students at nine night schools. During his twenty-two-year tenure in New Orleans, Easton opened classes in calisthenics, drawing, short-hand, typing, and music.  He submitted the first typewritten superintendent's report on January 11, 1889He died in New Orleans on October 17, 1910 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.  Warren Easton High School, opened in 1913, was named for him.  Source:

On January 11, 1803, Monroe & Livingston sailed for Paris to buy New Orleans; they buy Louisiana and more.

Benjamin F. Butler, U.S. Civil War General, died on this day in 1893. In New Orleans he issued the inifamous order that declared that any Southern woman who insulted a Northern soldier was to be treated as a prostitute. He was hated in the South, and his face even appeared on and inside of chamber pots.  Source:

James Waller Breedlove, soldier, politician, businessman.  Born, Albermarle County, Va., ca. 1790.  Served in War of 1812.  Later removed to Tennessee where he formed a lifelong friendship with Andrew Jackson.  Married (1) Maria Eliza Winchester (1793-1848), daughter of Gen. James Winchester.  Seven children, four of whom grew to maturity.  Married (2) Elizabeth Gill, in Newport, R. I., July 26, 1850 (she died shortly thereafter).  Removed to New Orleans, ca. 1818; invested in several small merchant vessels.  Befriended Stephen F. Austin (q.v.); served as Mexican vice-consul in New Orleans, 1829-1831.  Served as collector, Port of New Orleans, 1830s; president of Atchafalaya Bank.  Prominent leader of the Democratic party, 1840s.  Backed American filibusterers in Cuba, 1850.  Unsuccessful candidate for mayor of New Orleans, 1854, on the Independent Reform Ticket.  Supported the Confederacy but did not serve in army.  Died, New Orleans, January 11, 1867; interred Girod Street Cemetery.  R.S.J.  Sources:  John S. Kendall, "Andrew Jackson's Correspondence with James W. Breedlove," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, VI (1923); Chester Stanley Urban, "New Orleans and the Cuban Question during the Lopez Expeditions of 1848-1851," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXIII (1939); Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers, II; Ship Registers and Enrollments of New Orleans, Vols. I-III; New Orleans Daily Picayune, August 7, 1850.  From

On January 11, 1793, Governor Carondelet informed the Cabildo that the levee was in need of repairs from the Fort of St. Charles to the huts.

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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