Happy Mardi Gras!
Carnival Day has been celebrated on this date in 2003 and 2014.
But this March 4, 1916 Times-Picayune photograph, taken on Canal Street near the Maison Blanche building, is not of a Mardi
Publicity leading up to the event had New Orleanians scratching their heads. To top
that off, in the days preceding the parade, "prominent citizens" were reportedly spotted all over town wearing lapel
pins depicting broken hammers but would not divulge their symbolism. "Keep your eyes
on March 4" announced an advertisement in the paper on February 25th. "Everyone be at St. Charles and Calliope
at 11:30 o'clock on March 2" read another on February 29. On March 1, The Association of Commerce announced that
it would tell more about the mysterious event in the coming days. And on March 2 it did inform the public of its upcoming
"Industrial Parade" featuring a broken "giant hammer" (which is pictured here) which would symbolize
the defeat by "progressive citizens" over pessimistic "knockers" who did not preach the "gospel
of thrift and optimism".
Maison Blanche and Lazard's
department stores sold broken hammer pins for a nickel because "Every public spirited citizen should wear the broken
hammer". On March 3, the Association of Commerce announced that the Knights of the Broken Hammer's upcoming parade
would be a mile long, led by the NOPD, and include twelve bands. Paul Jahncke was its chairman. New Orleanians love
a parade and this one did not disappoint.
This photo appeared on
the March 5, 1916 front page of the Picayune. The inscription under the hammer head reads "New Orleans Solid After
178 Years of Progress -- 1718 - 1916". "Hammer Signifies Spirit of New Orleans" and "Exhibits of
Products Please Spectators" read the headlines.
parade was the first of its kind in our city and was scheduled to appeal to Mardi Gras visitors in town for the March 7th
Carnival Day. It began at 11 a.m. at St. Charles and Clio, turned at Washington Avenue, went back to St. Charles to
Canal Street, back to Camp and then to Howard Avenue. Its 83 floats featured 75 New Orleans based products representing
local resources, businesses, farming, and more. Men donning sandwich-board signs extolling the virtues of the Association
of Commerce were interspersed throughout. "Hundreds of thousands attended" the parade, said the paper.
And what a parade it was:
The city sponsored two "Safety First
in Economy of Industrial New Orleans" floats -- one a huge "auto dump truck" with an attached wagon from the
city repair plant, the other an "auto truck" with a creosote mixer in operation.
The Miller Elmer company's float depicted a giant box of candy from which girs tossed chocolates to the crowd.
The American Can Company displayed hundreds of different products.
E. A. Zatarain and Sons displayed their food products as did Jacobs Candy.
The American Brewing Company displayed Regal Beer in cartons.
Consumers Electric's float depicted a modern chimney-less home.
Levy Mattress Co. had not only a float with many mattresses but float-pulling mules decked with tiny mattresses.
Crescent City Steam Laundry's float was titled "Merry Monday" (our
traditional wash and red beans day).
Odenwald & Gross' ten-foot
high tiered wedding cake topped with bridal couple puppets must have wowed viewers.
New Orleans Railway & Lighting had two massive floats -- one featuring its electric plant and the other
its gas works which included gas stoves and tanks.
Penick and Ford
touted its Velva Syrup.
Swift & Co. proudly sponsored two floats
-- one for its lard, the other for its fertilizer, both produced in Harvey.
Mills featured an operating spindle and young women dining at a table covered in fine linen.
The Public Belt Railroad depicted its history.
Chesterobe Co. featured its cedar chests.
Wichita Service Station
had an auto truck floate with a working mechanic.
New Orleans Coffee
Co. featured French Market Coffee.
The Dock Board's float was piled
high with bales of hay.
Crescent City Stock Yards had a
massive red bull on their float.
Evan J. McCall had three floats
-- one with hogs, one with swine, and another with a bull.
Jahncke Company had four floats (note Paul Jahncke was the parade chairman). They included a two-story
house, a pyramid, a stucco house, and a comment display.
Brewing Company featured Sterling Beer and Cook Brewing Company displayed Cook's Beer.
Abott Auto Co. proudly displayed a huge Packard truck bearing a six-passenger touring car.
Interstate Electric's float was described as "one of the prettiest". It included pets in a
miniature house surrounded by various "handy appliances".
YMCA's float included "boys in athletic costumes, one taking a shower" (in his costume?).
And last but not least, came the broken hammer float.