Through open windows, I saw the oldest part of New Orleans, beyond the glitz, beyond the freeways and crowded streets of the French Quarter and Central Business District towards a neighborhood once called the Town of Carrolton.
From Canal Street, board the streetcar onto St. Charles Avenue. A North Carolina company called Perley A. Thomas Car Company in the 1920s built most of the streetcars in New Orleans that runs along St. Charles Avenue. There are two streetcars that were acquired from Melbourne, Australia that were constructed between 1924-25 that has wider center doors adapted for handicap use. This is one (The Riverfront Streetcar in New Orleans):
The streetcar operator still rings the bell twice before leaving. Looking at her, standing tall maneuvering her machine, I remembered a different person doing the same thing half way across the world in the streets of Melbourne. In Melbourne the streetcars are better kept. Here is one:
Same machinery and concept, only this time, this is New Orleans with warm weather and different sound and scene. Leaving the business district, the streetcar moved uptown to more greens and bigger trees and Victorian houses.
As the streetcar moved along, we passed by the House of Broel’s Victoria mansion and Dollhouse Museum, The Elms Mansion and The Columns, beautiful Victorian style mansions of all shapes and sizes. Each had gone through storms and years of renovations and facelifts.
Imagine ladies in their long dresses having an afternoon tea with their friends on the porch while being served by the maids. And men in their important suits attending meetings at The Library or Club House. We passed through Latter Library, The Wedding Cake House, and The Palacio House and onto two Universities, Loyola University and Tulane University. Tulane was founded in the mid 1800s and Loyola in early 1900s. These are two institutions that served the Southern elites for many years.
John Audubon had his influenced all over New Orleans. Audubon Park and Audubon Place both named after him, and of course Audubon Zoo in the 40-acre park across the street from the universities.
Audubon Place is also known as Millionaire’s Row where large houses and expensive vehicles were seen parked in the area. Before you knew it, the streetcar made a halt and its time to turn around and head back to the city center.
The operator did not seem to be in a hurry to turn back. St. Charles Avenue streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world. It has been more than 150 years and the streetcar is still rumbling and ringing its bell.
Likewise in our hometown Tampa, the streetcars run a very short route in the downtown area. Smaller scale, less passengers but same concept. Here is photo of Tampa’s streetcar.
Have you been on streetcars? Much like the streetcars in Melbourne and Tampa, the streetcars in New Orleans symbolizes the old and the new.