new orleans public service inc. COLLECTION, addendum 1



(Mss 199)






Earl K. Long Library

University of New Orleans


April 1988








Historical Note


Container List


List of Series


Index Terms


Procedures for Requesting Special Collections Materials







Size:                          212 photographs



locations:                 New Orleans, La.


Inclusive dates:      n.d.; 1923-1980


Summary:                Mainly photographic prints produced by New Orleans Public Service Inc. in connection with the New Orleans transit strike of 1929.  Includes images of transit vehicles with related equipment and facilities, company personnel, strikers and their sympathizers, and scenes of incidents.  Descriptive information in this inventory/ guide was collected from notes prepared by NOPSI personnel on the reverse side of each print.  Many of the prints were made by New Orleans photographers Charles L. Franck and John N. Teunisson.  The collection also includes a few items unrelated to the 1929 strike.



collections:              New Orleans Public Service Inc. Collection (Mss 169)


Source:                     Gift, April 1988


Access:                     No restrictions


Copyright:                Physical rights are retained by the Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.


Citation:                    New Orleans Public Service Inc. Collection, Addendum 1, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans




Historical Note



            The origin of NOPSI can be traced back some 170 years ago to the 1820s, when an actor/entrepreneur named James Caldwell opened his American Theatre on Camp Street, lighting it with gas chandeliers.  Spurred by success, he founded the New Orleans Gas Light Co.  By 1833 he was providing manufactured gas to a few street lights and a hotel.  Armed with an exclusive grant from the legislature, Caldwell built the first commercial gas plant in the Deep South.  The gas was made from coal.  New Orleans was one of the first cities in the U.S. to have a public gas system.


            Less than fifty years after gas lighting was introduced to the city, the era of electricity began.  The Southwestern Brush Electric Light and Power Company was incorporated in New Orleans on June 11, 1881, and was the first company to generate and distribute electricity in the city.  The company began operating January 8, 1882, and by the end of that year had installed twelve generators serving 480 of the brilliant electric arc lights invented by Charles Brush, almost all of them being used for street lighting.


            The Edison Electric Illuminating Company was the first electric company in New Orleans to provide incandescent lighting and other power needs.  The company was chartered on August 17, 1886.


            The decades that ushered in present-day NOPSI were chaotic.  By 1900, more than 200 different gas, electric, and streetcar companies had operated in New Orleans since 1834.  The resulting inefficient and wasteful duplication of service led to ruinous competition and financial problems.  By 1919 the principal utilities were financially unstable and under federal receivership.


            By early 1921 a federal receiver appointed the city's professional and business leaders as the "Citizen's Committee of Forty" to study the situation and suggest a solution.  They recommended the formation of a single utility to provide electricity, gas, and transit.


            In April 1922, the New Orleans City Government passed the Settlement Ordinance under which a new company could be created from the receivership.  The ordinance set up controls to bring the new company and the city into a partnership. Later in the year the entity was born as New Orleans Public Service Inc.  On August 8, 1922, the newly formed company made its first incorporation by acquiring New Orleans Railway and Light Co.  By September 27, it had taken over a number of subsidiaries and began operation.


            At first the new company was not really a single entity.  Technically, six corpora­tions with the name “New Orleans Public Service Company Inc." succeeded each other in just five years as the charter was redrawn to encompass the latest consolidations and acquisitions of former companies.  The present NOPSI was chartered January 1, 1926.  It was formed out of a consolidation of Consumers Electric Light and Power Company, which served the central business district and portions of residential areas; Citizens Light and Power Company, Inc., which served primarily the Carrollton section; and New Orleans Public Service Inc. (1925), which served other parts of the city.


            The creation of NOPSI finally ended a series of buyouts, bankruptcies, and consolidations since 1835 that involved no fewer than six gas companies, thirty transit and street railway systems, and 18 electric or consolidated electric, gas, and street railway companies.


            The founding of NOPSI coincided with a leap in the consumption of electricity.  In 1921, the year before the first NOPSI was founded, there were 43,000 electric meters in all of New Orleans.  Five years later there were 86,000.  The vast majority of 1921 customers were commercial, industrial, and government.  The average customer used roughly 2,500 KWH per year, and the average residential customer used 319 KWH per year.  From 1926 to 1939—an era dominated by the Great Depression—electrical usage increased 400% while the number of customers barely doubled.  During that same period the cost of electricity fell 72%, so the average residential user's total electric bill remained about the same despite the huge increase in consumption.  This reduction in cost is attributable to efficiencies of new technology and economies of scale.  From 1923 to 1985 the average residential consumption of electricity in New Orleans increased 3,000%.


            While the city's demand for electricity grew at an enormous rate from NOPSI's founding onward, the city's entire generating capacity continued to be housed in the same Market Street generating station.  Finally, in 1947 the Industrial Canal Generating Station was completed.  It was renamed the A. B. Paterson Station in 1952.  The last of three units at Michoud was completed in 1967.  Since the late 1960s NOPSI has experienced a lack of growth, and no further generating capability has been added.


            The 1970s were characterized by the energy crunch caused by the Arab oil embargo.  With the trend away from natural gas and oil toward what was thought at the time to be more economical coal and nuclear fuels, the company committed itself to participation in the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant along with MSU's other utility subsidiaries.  With the growth in demand for electricity disappearing as the plant was being constructed, the need for it was continually questioned.  This was one of the major issues of the 1980s and resulted in the New Orleans City Council in 1983 appointing a Citizens Task Force to look into the feasibility of the city municipalizing or taking over electric and gas operations in Orleans Parish.  Ultimately NOPSI remained in private hands (except for the purchase of its transit operations in 1983 by the Regional Transit Authority), but in 1985 voters in Orleans Parish chose to return regulation to the New Orleans City Council from the LPSC.


Source:         “New Orleans Public Service Inc. (NOPSI) Company Profile,”  Accessed June 19, 2006.




List of Series



Series I.    NOPSI Equipment


Series II.        NOPSI Personnel


Series III.       NOPSI Facilities


Series IV.      Streetcars, ca. 1860 – ca. 1890s


Series V.       Streetcars, ca. 1920s – 1970s


Series VI.      Streetcar Strike in New Orleans, 1929




Container List



Series I.  NOPSI Equipment


199-1=199-4             Unidentified, n.d.



Series II.  NOPSI Personnel


199-5                          Credit Union Board of Directors, 1980


199-6=199-9             Unidentified, n.d.



Series III.  NOPSI Facilities


199-10                        Repair shops and streetcar yards at S. Genois Street near Tulane Avenue.  December 1927 (2 prints)


199-11                        Bus Station and garage on Canal Street.  December 1927


199-12                        Repair shop and yard on Esplanade Avenue.  December 1927 (2 prints)


199-13                        Yard on South Genois Street.  December 1927 (4 prints)


199-14                        Steam electric station on Market Street.  Nov. 1927 (2 prints)


199-15                        Steam electric station on Market Street.  December 1927 (3 prints)


199-16                        Steam electric station on Market Street.  Nov. 1927


199-17                        Vertical view of NOPSI office building, 317 Baronne Street.  December 1927 (2 prints)


199-18                        NOPSI office building, 317 Baronne Street and substation at Dryades Street.  December 1927 (4 prints)


199-19                        Vertical view of gas plant in Algiers.  January 1928 (3 prints)


199-20                        Algiers gas plant.  January 1928 (2 prints)


199-21                        NOPSI office building, 317 Baronne Street.  January 1928


199-22                        Repair shop at Magazine Street.  January 1928 (2 prints)


199-23                        Vertical view of gas plant on Orleans Street.  January 1928 (3 prints)


199-24                        Plant at intersection of Magnolia and Poydras in extreme foreground; approximate site of northeast corner of present Dome Stadium in direction of Gravier and LaSalle Streets.  ca. 1928


199-25=199-26         Unidentified individuals on roof of 317 Baronne Street.  ca. 1980


199-27=199-28         Unidentified construction.  n.d.



Series IV.  Streetcars, ca. 1860 - ca. 1890s


199-29                        Mule-driven streetcar, ca. 1860


199-30                        Double decker horse car, ca. 1861


199-31                        Model of first horseless streetcar, ca. 1886


199-32                        Front and rear view of "bob tail" car no. 73, ca. 1870


199-33                        Mule-driven streetcar, ca. 1870s.  (2 prints)


199-34                        Mule-driven streetcar on Canal Street, late 19th century (2 prints)


199-35                        Mule-driven streetcar on Canal Street with statue of Henry Clay in background, late 19th century


199-36                        Mule-driven streetcar on Canal Street, ca. 1888


199-37                        Final model of mule-driven streetcar delivered to New Orleans, ca. 1890


199-78                        Mule-driven streetcar at Fair Grounds (brick building in the background was the work of architect Henry Howard), late 19th century.



Series V.  Streetcars, 1920s - 1970


199-38                        Lower portion of streetcar no. 467, December 16, 1920 (2 prints)


199-39                        Streetcar, ca. 1920s


199-40                        Streetcar on Carrollton Belt Line (left to right: A. B. Paterson, Frank Frost, Paul Ulrich, Gus Kraus, R.M. O'Brien and George Estelle), ca. 1920s-1930s


199-41                        Streetcar on Magazine Line, ca. 1920s


199-154                     Streetcar marked "Desire" on Bourbon Street, ca. 1940s


199-42                        Streetcar on Carrollton Belt Line, ca. 1970s



Series VI.  Streetcar Strike in New Orleans, 1929


199-43                        Unidentified man holding a bundle of dynamite sticks, n.d. (2 prints)


199-44                        Unidentified group of men with a bundle of dynamite sticks in the foreground, n.d. (10 prints)


199-45                        Close-up of dynamite sticks, n.d. (8 prints)


199-46                        Bundle of dynamite sticks, n.d. (8 prints)


199-47                        Close-up of a bundle of dynamite sticks with a broken chain and lock, n.d. (5 prints)


199-48                        Close-up of machinery valves, n.d. (8 prints)


199-49                        Unidentified man holding a bundle of dynamite sticks, n.d. (3 prints)


199-50                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street, Rampart Street visible in background.  July 2, 1929


199-51                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street between Carondelet and Camp Streets.  July 2, 1929


199-52                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street between Dauphine and North Rampart Streets.  July 2, 1929


199-53                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street showing the deserted neutral ground.  The photograph was taken on Canal and Rampart Streets.  July 3, 1929


199-54                        Barn with broken windowpanes, at Magazine and Arabella Streets.  (Photograph was taken on Arabella Street)  July 3, 1929


199-55                        Barn, with broken windowpanes, at Arabella and Magazine Streets.  (View from corner of Magazine and Joseph Streets.)  July 3, 1929


199-56                        Traffic tie-up at North Rampart Street.  (View from Canal and North Rampart Streets.)  July 3, 1929


199-57                        Mud dumped on streetcar tracks at Tulane Avenue near Tonti Street.  July 3, 1929


199-58                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street between Dauphine and North Rampart Streets.  July 3, 1929


199-59                        Timber and concrete blocks on tracks at the river side of Canal and White Streets.  July 3, 1929


199-60                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street near Dauphine Street in the direction of the Mississippi River.  July 3, 1929


199-61                        Rail removed from track at St. Claude Avenue near Alvar Street.  July 3, 1929


199-62                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street, cars are facing North Rampart Street.  July 4, 1929


199-63                        Traffic tie-up on Canal Street.  Traffic facing the riverfront.  July 4, 1929


199-64                        Final trip of Canal belt streetcar no. 696, photographed at Canal Street between University Place and South Rampart Street.  July 5, 1929


199-65=199-66         Strikers and sympathizers surrounding damaged service truck in front of Public Service office building.  July 5, 1929


199-67                        View of Canal Street, 8:15 a.m., July 5, 1929


199-68                        Starter's station, at Canal Street near the riverfront, destroyed by fire.  July 5, 1929


199-69                        Mob assembled behind a streetcar at Canal Street near the riverfront.  10:30 a.m., July 5, 1929


199-70                        Policed disbursed crowd at Canal and Wells Streets.  July 5, 1929


199-71                        A fire engine was summoned to Canal and Wells Streets to contain a fire.  July 5, 1929


199-72                        Rail removed from track at Canal and Dorgenois Streets.  July 5, 1929


199-73                        Crowd trying to overturn Canal belt car no. 696 at Canal and Wells Streets.  July 5, 1929


199-74                        View of a cemented switch on streetcar track at City Park Avenue and Dumaine Street.  July 5, 1929


199-75                        View from second floor of Public Service office building of a crowd around damaged service truck.  July 5, 1929


199-76                        Women in front of the barn at Arabella Street.  July 5, 1929


199-77                        Demonstrators at the Canal Street barn.  July 5, 1929


199-79                        Strikers and sympathizers at Broad and White Streets.  July 6, 1929


199-80=199-82         Damaged streetcars at the Canal Street barn.  July 6, 1929


199-83=199-87         Vandalized streetcars at Franklin Avenue near Clover Street.  July 6, 1929


199-88=199-89         Chalk marks indicate brick damage to Tulane belt car no. 813.  July 6, 1929


199-90=199-91         Chalk marks indicate brick damage to Tulane belt car no. 812.  July 6, 1929


199-92                        Destroyed rail switch at Carrollton Avenue and Willow Street.  July 6, 1929


199-93                        Destroyed electric sign at Canal and North Dupre Streets.  July 6, 1929


199-94                        Broken glass on windows and door of Canal Belt car no. 609.  July 6, 1929


199-95                        Brickbats on lawn at Carrollton Avenue and Willow Steet.  July 6, 1929


199-96=199-102       Parade of strikers at St. Claude Avenue near Poland Street car barn.  July 7, 1929



199-130                     Parade of strikers at Canal Street car barn.  July 7, 1929


199-111=199-112    Parade of strikers, unidentified location, riding on a bakers' union car.  July 7, 1929


199-113=199-115    Views of several areas in New Orleans with broken street lamps.  July 7, 1929


199-116=199-119    Bomb exploded at Poland Street barn.  July 8, 1929


199-120                     Image of a grave for Ben Commons erected by neighborhood boys at Poland Avenue near Burgundy Street.  July 8, 1929


199-121=199-122    Broken city street lights at St. Charles Avenue near Audubon Park. July 8, 1929


199-123=199-126    First streetcars on Canal Street, morning of July 15, 1929


199-127                     A man, arrested by a United States deputy marshal, after he was placed under local police jurisdiction.  July 15, 1929


199-128                     West End car no. 620 on Canal Street between Bourbon and Dauphine Streets during evening traffic peak hour.  August 16, 1929


199-129                     St. Charles belt car no. 402 at Canal and Baronne Streets during evening traffic peak hour.  August 16, 1929


199-131=199-139    Streetcars of Tulane, South Claiborne and Freret lines, between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., August 19, 1929.


199-140                     Prytania car no. 863 at Prytania and Calliope Streets. August 19, 1929


199-141=199-142    Streetcars of Tulane belt line, at Lee Circle and Howard Avenue between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., August 19, 1929.


199-143=199-147    Streetcars of St. Claude, Canal and Paris lines, at North Rampart and Esplanade Avenues during morning traffic peak hour.  August 20, 1929


199-148                     North Claiborne car no. 817 during morning traffic peak hour.  August 20, 1929


199-149=199-152    Damage to private residence at 6075 Magazine Street caused by a dynamite explosion.  Oct. 28, 1929


199-153                     Newspaper article concerning passenger train on the West Feliciana Railroad.  ca. 1838.




Index Terms



Buses—LouisianaNew Orleans

Franck, Charles L.

New Orleans Public Service Inc.

Street-railroads—LouisianaNew Orleans

Strikes and lockouts—Transportation industry—LouisianaNew Orleans

Teunisson, John N.