Exactly where did the New Basin Canal start and finish?
Kevin R. Roberts
The New Basin Canal began at what is now known as West End Boulevard, joining Lake Pontchartrain around the present-day intersection of West End and Robert E. Lee boulevards. Jetties were added that extended into the lake, and on one of the jetties was a lighthouse. The canal traveled south through the swamp to the high ground of Metairie Ridge and followed the route presently taken by the Pontchartrain Expressway to what is now the Central Business District. The turning basin was near the Union Passenger Terminal around Rampart Street and Howard Avenue.
The canal -- which ended on the "American" side of Canal Street -- was constructed by the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company. It was meant to compete with the Carondelet Canal in the Creole part of the city, which was dug beginning in 1794 under the governorship of Francisco Luis Hector de Carondelet.
The new canal took six years to dig and opened in 1838. It became an important transport route and link to the lake until it was completely filled in the 1950s.
Building the New Basin Canal was, to say the least, a daunting task that took the lives of many thousands of men, mostly Irish immigrants. You can see a monument to these men on the very wide neutral ground between Pontchartrain Boulevard and West End, where the canal used to be.
I am interested in finding more about my husband's grandmother. She lived at 8314 Jeanette St. in New Orleans. I know she lived at that address in 1925. What happened to Jeannette Street? What parish was it in at that time?
Jeannette Street is still here, and it's located in Orleans Parish. Her house on Jeannette is located in the Leonidas neighborhood -- also known as West Carrollton -- although New Orleans neighborhoods were not given names until the early 1970s.
By 1925, this area, along with East Carrollton, had been a part of New Orleans for 50 years. The area was annexed in 1874. Before that, it was the town of Carrollton, incorporated in 1845, and the Jefferson Parish seat from 1852 until 1874.
The area originally was owned by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, who founded New Orleans in 1718. After changing hands many times, it became the McCarty sugar plantation in the early 1800s. Later it became the property of the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company, which divided up the property and sold lots.
Charles Zimpel was hired to lay out the property in 1833, and there's a street named for him a few blocks from Jeannette. The first house was built in 1835, and the area grew quickly. The people who were lucky enough to live in the "country" took the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad into New Orleans for work.
Why don't we still have "Mint Bubblets"?
We don't have Mint Bubblets because the Elmer Candy Company decided not to make them any more. Most New Orleans residents know that the company has been around since the middle of the 19th century, although it was the Miller Candy Company when it began.
One of Miller's daughters married Augustus Elmer, and the candy company changed its name to Elmer's in 1914 when their sons joined the business.
The successful company was purchased in 1963 by Roy Nelson and was moved to Pontchatoula. Then sometime in the 1970s, as a result of national competition, it was decided that certain goodies had to go. Among these were Chee Wees, Coconut Haystacks and Mint Bubblets.
The company decided instead to concentrate on the seasonal boxed-chocolate business and to focus its efforts on Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. I'm sure you've been waiting patiently for Gold Brick Eggs, Heavenly Hash Eggs and Pecan Eggs to magically appear in stores. When I spot these, I know that spring is on the way.
However, I, like you, do miss those Mint Bubblets.