Today in New Orleans History

January 17

Shushan Airport Milneburg Joys

Pontchartrain Expressway Dedication
January 17, 1957
Pictured is the Pontchartrain Expressway's Carrollton Interchange, where the ribbon is cut marking the opening of the first stage of the Interchange.  From left: Capt. Neville Levy; W. Crosby Pegues, Jr., General Counsel, State Highway Dept.; Mayor deLesseps S. Morrison; Councilman Glenn Clasen; Admiral Riggs on January 17, 1957.  Photo from the New Orleans Public Library.
The expressway takes its name from Pontchartrain Boulevard, for which the expressway overtook in some areas.  Construction began in the 1950s. This road would later be incorporated into Interstate 10.
I-10 enters Orleans Parish after crossing the 17th Street Canal; this is where the expressway designation begins. At the vicinity of West End Boulevard/Florida Avenue exit, the expressway turns to the southeast along the right-of-way for the former New Basin Canal which had been filled in between 1937 and 1947. The expressway continues along this right-of-way as I-10 until a stack interchange with U.S. 90 (Claiborne Avenue) in the CBD.

At this interchange, I-10 breaks off to the northeast and Business U.S. 90 begins. The expressway continues southeast along the upriver side of the CBD as an elevated highway that leads to the Crescent City Connection. This section was completed by 1958 opening of the Crescent City Connection.


The Business District U.S. 90 portion of the expressway was expanded in the mid 1980s to accommodate the second span of the Crescent City Connection which opened in 1988. This stretch of the expressway and the stack interchange of I-10 and U.S. 90 received further reconstruction in the early 1990s, including two reversible HOV (High Occupacy Vehicle) lanes that stretch from the intersection of Earhart Boulevard and Magnolia Street (underneath the Pontchartrain Expressway) across the Crescent City Connection to the Westbank Expressway.

Reconstruction of the northern end of the expressway in the I-610 Split vicinity was undertaken in the late 1990s. Also in the late 1990s, further work was done on the expressway as three ramps were constructed, one connecting East Business U.S. 90 to East I-10 and the others connecting West I-10 to West Business U.S. 90 and westbound Claiborne Avenue (West US 90).

The Norfolk Southern Railway has an overpass crossing near the Metairie Cemetery between the City Park Avenue and West End Boulevard/Florida Avenue exits. Here the expressway dips down to 12 feet below sea level to allow for the rail line to pass overhead. This area once experienced flooding on a regular basis in heavy thunderstorms and tropical systems. The problem was so common, a depth meter was painted on the overpass support columns to warn drivers of the water's depth. A new pumping station was completed adjacent to the expressway in 2004 to keep this area dry and allow the interstate to remain open in the event of an evacuation.



In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this pumping station was overwhelmed and the railroad underpass and the entire I-610/West End Boulevard interchange was extensively flooded. In fact, the 17th Street Canal breach is about one mile north of this area. This flooding cut Orleans Parish off from most areas to the west, making the Crescent City Connection one of the few clear routes into the eastbank of Orleans Parish. Areas under the elevated portions of the expressway in the CBD area saw flooding in the vicinity of the Superdome but for the most part remained dry and undamaged. Some evacuaees trapped in the city for days after Katrina attempted to use the expressway and the Crescent City Connection to walk to dry ground on the West Bank.  Source:

All that remains of the New Basin Canal, which was used for much of the route of the Pontchartrain Expressway, is a short stretch at the lake between the Southern Yacht Club and the New Canal Lighthouse which runs south to Lake Marina Drive (viewed on the left).

St. John the Baptist parochial school at the corner of Dryades and Calliope Streets was demolished to make way for the elevated Pontchartrain Expressway.

1956 photos of structures lost during the expressway construction.
More photos of the "new" Ponchartrain Expressway.

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Shushan Airport Milneburg Joys

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On January 17, 2008, the city's aviation board voted on an amended incentive program which waives landing fees for the first two airlines to fly nonstop into a city not presently served from the airport. Under the new ruling, landing fees will be waived for up to two airlines flying into an "underserved destination airport." The incentive previously referred to service to a "new destination airport."

Photos of NOPL's  Black History Month and Martin Luther King Holiday Celebration on January 17, 2008.

Photos of  the New Orleans Public Library's celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday and annual kickoff to Black History Month, at the Main Library on January 17, 2002.

Local entertainment writer Charles P. Jones, in a January 17, 1937 article, briefly reviewed "Jungle Princess" (starring New Orleans born Lamour and Ray Milland) which was playing at the Tudor Theater.  "Miss Lamour is given a chance to sing as well as act, and the picture is certain to make its heroine an impressive movie figure", he wrote.  And so it was.  Not to mention that Dottie's "impressive figure" was wrapped in a sarong.

Rezin P. Bowie, planter, inventor of the Bowie Knife.  Born, Logan County, Ky., September 8, 1793; son of Rezin and Elve Jones Bowie.  With family removed to Louisiana, 1802.  Between 1818 and 1821, with brothers James (q.v.) and John, was engaged in the contraband slave trade as an associate of the privateer Jean Laffite, then based at Galveston Island on Texas coast; ca. 1819 the Bowie brothers formed a partnership to develop several Louisiana sugar plantations.  Designed famous Bowie Knife, which was to become a favorite weapon of American frontiersmen, which his brother James made famous as a result of an altercation with the Rapides Parish sheriff on a sandbar opposite Natchez on September 19, 1827.  Three times elected to the Louisiana legislature, Bowie was famed as an orator.  Died, New Orleans, January 17, 1841.  R.C.V.  Sources:  "Early Life in the Southwest—The Bowies," De Bow's Review, XIII (1852); J. Frank Dobie, "Bowie and the Bowie Knife," Southwestern Review, XVI (1931).  From


On January 17, 1783 Governor Don Bernardo De Galvez happily informed the Cabildo of the birth of a son.

January. 17 & 18, 1768: According to the History of Louisiana by Francois-Xavier Martin, p. 201, on the seventeenth and eighteenth of January, 1768, the most intense cold, of which there is any remembrance, was felt in Louisiana. The river was frozen before New Orleans for several yards, on both sides. The orange trees were destroyed thoughout the province.

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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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