Can you tell me when the following buildings opened on Canal Street: Krauss, Walgreens, and Woolworth's?
Krauss opened at 1201 Canal St. in 1903. The building cost $25,000. Because of its location -- right on the edge of Storyville -- the store sold satin and lace to the ladies of the "District," as it was known. Of course, women from all over the city shopped there as well. Krauss was the first department store to install air conditioning in 1925 and also the first to have escalators -- then known as mechanical stairs. But this Big Easy institution closed its doors in 1997.
Walgreens was next to make the scene on Canal Street in September 1938. The new store -- located at Canal and Baronne streets -- was the fifth in Louisiana, the others being in Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Alexandria, and Monroe. And it became one of over 500 in America. Charles Rudolph Walgreen, a pharmacist, had founded the nationwide chain in 1907 in Chicago. Our new, ultramodern store had a 100-foot fountain bar on the first floor and a restaurant on the second floor. When it opened, it boasted that it was following the latest trend in sanitation: the garbage was kept refrigerated until it left the store.
The next year, 1939, saw the construction of another in the F.W. Woolworth 5-and-10-cent-store chain. But the building of this store created quite a disturbance among preservationists. You see, the store was built between 1031-1041 Canal St., and in order to do this many old buildings had to be demolished. But these were not just any old buildings. The area was the gateway to the famous Tango Belt area.
Located in the French Quarter just across Basin and North Rampart streets from Storyville, the Tango Belt was practically the center of nightlife in New Orleans in the first two decades of the 20th century. There you could find many cabarets, saloons, nightclubs, and theaters where jazz flourished. One of the buildings that was destroyed had housed the Arlington Cabaret. once operated by Tom Anderson, a state legislator and prominent political leader who was also known as the unofficial Mayor of Storyville.
This Woolworth's was also the scene of numerous sit-ins in the early 1960s, when civil rights activists protested segregation at the "white only" lunch counter.
My girlfriend's momma claims she can't find any information about her old school, Alfred Priestly. Where should she begin?
How about right here? Your girlfriend's momma's old school at 1619 Leonidas St. was officially dedicated on Sept. 28, 1953, when the Orleans Parish School Board renamed the Leonidas Street Junior High School the Alfred C. Priestly School. This was done to honor Alfred Cronwell Priestly, born in Baytree, La., in 1866. Mr. Priestly moved to New Orleans to attend college and received a master of arts degree in 1901.
In 1890, he became principal of the McDonogh No. 24 School, serving there until 1931. He died in 1949, and was buried in Carrollton Cemetery. When the school was dedicated in his honor, the resolution stated: "Mr. Priestly enjoyed the highest esteem and good will of both white and Negro citizens in the Carrollton area."
Priestly School closed in the early 1980s.
I am looking at a very old photo of a large double street with a large neutral ground and old horse-drawn streetcars. On the corner is an old theater. On its side is pained Bidwell's Theater. Do you know if this is New Orleans?
You are most likely looking at a picture taken right here, because David Bidwell was one of the foremost theatrical producers in New Orleans. And it was Bidwell who originated the custom of matinees here in 1853. In 1882 he was managing three theaters at once, with one of the best-known being the Academy of Music on St. Charles Avenue.
Bidwell, who died in 1889, is buried in Metairie Cemetery.