canal street in 1958

Canal Street, ca 1958

This site’s been neglected way too long, in favor of NOLA History Guy. Time to get things moving here again.

This photo is a great shot of Canal Street after the 1957 “beautification” project. The four-track main was reduced to two tracks, since there were no streetcar lines left other than Canal and St. Charles. Only one block of the outside track on the inbound side remained, so the St. Charles line could turn from Carondelet Street onto Canal, then turn for the outbound run on St. Charles Avenue. The two-track main was ripped up in 1964, leaving only that one-block section of the outside track remaining on Canal Street.

That track configuration remained until 1997, when NORTA expanded and upgraded the Riverfront line. The Riverfront tracks were upgraded from standard-gauge (the width that railroad cars use) to wide-gauge (streetcars), and Riverfront was connected to St. Charles Avenue, via the first few blocks of Canal Street. That configuration was further expanded in 2004, when streetcar service returned to Canal Street.

The large white building on the left in the photo is the Pickwick Club, the luncheon/social club most associated with the Mystic Krewe of Comus, the city’s oldest Carnival organization. At the street level, the Pickwick Club building housed a┬áRussell Stover candy shop. That retail space is now a Starbucks coffee shop.

Next to the Pickwick Club is Stevens, a men’s store. After ownership changes in the 1960s, the store became Porter-Stevens, with locations in suburban malls as well as downtown.

On the right are two electric signs. Royal Castle was a chain of diners that featured “Castleburgers” – slider hamburgers. Castleburgers, fries and a Birch Beer was the go-to lunch. Royal Castle also did a great breakfast. I remember this location, but most of my personal Royal Castle memories are of the diner on Veterans Blvd., at Brockenbraugh Court, because my mom was principal at J. C. Ellis Elementary School, just up the street.

Leonard Krower was a department store. Like many department store chains, its anchor store was here on Canal Street.

So much detail in this photo, we’ll come back and explore it some more in the future.