The recent 50th anniversary of the Causeway bridge made me wonder something. What was Causeway Boulevard in Metairie called before there was a causeway? It's hard for me to believe that the street didn't exist at all, and unless the original namers were incredibly psychic, I'm guessing it had another name.
You're right in your guess that one of the main streets in Metairie -- Causeway Boulevard -- was given this name when the causeway over Lake Pontchartrain opened to the public in 1956. Before that it was Harlem Avenue.
We are rightly proud of our causeway because it's the longest bridge in the world -- just under 24 miles long. It's hard to believe that it has been a part of our city for 50 years already, but many of us remember the days before it was there. The Northshore was practically a foreign country to many residents of the Big Easy.
When the bridge opened, it was two-way and had two lanes. While it was a fine bridge, it seemed to be a bridge to nowhere. At the time, St. Tammany Parish was rural and sparsely populated.
But it wasn't long before western St. Tammany was booming and a second span was needed.
The second span, added in 1969, is 80 feet from the first. And the twin spans are supported by more than 9,000 concrete pilings. Before Katrina, traffic across the bridge totaled more than 30,000 cars each workday.
I guess you know that the lake itself was named for one of my relatives, the Count de Pontchartrain. He served as minister of finance during the reign of Louis XIV, the "sun King," for whom Louisiana is named. Just kidding.
Even though most of us call it the Causeway Bridge, we don't have to, because a causeway is a bridge.
In the mid 1940s, when my husband and I were dating, we used to spend weekend evenings at a nightspot called the Cotillion Lounge. I believe the lounge was located in what is now the Clarion Hotel on Canal Street. Can you tell me the name of the hotel in the 1940s that housed the Cotillion Lounge?
Located in what used to be the Jung Hotel at 1500 Canal St., the Cotillion Lounge was a very popular place. But the hotel changed its name from the Jung in 1971 when it was sold. First it became Braniff Place and then the Grand Hotel. The hotel was closed for a while, but it reopened in 1982 as the Clarion Hotel. This new identity lasted until it became the Radisson Hotel in 1995.
Many of us remember when the splendid new Jung Hotel opened on Dec. 19, 1925. We envied the tourists who got to stay in one of the 323 guest rooms that had air conditioning.
Pretty soon the Jung Hotel became a very desirable place for locals as well. Folks started to go to the new "all-year room," a garden ballroom with a roll-back roof. This was part of an addition to the hotel, an 18-story annex that added 375 rooms to the original 10-story hotel. The new ballroom was a wonderful place for weddings, proms and Mardi Gras balls.
I can't drive past the spot on Canal Street without remembering many enjoyable evenings at this fine hotel that was proclaimed the "largest and most magnificent hotel in the South" when it opened. I certainly was happy to hear that it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.