• The Port of New Orleans

    SCENES ALONG THE LEVEE

  • The visitor to New Orleans will have missed the most interesting as well as important feature of this city should he fail to make a personal inspection of the magnificent harbor known as the Port of New Orleans. For a distance of fifteen miles along the city front there extends an almost unbroken line of wharves and docks, sufficient to accommodate a vast fleet. Owing to the great depth of the Mississippi River, ships are able to lie close alongside the bank and load cargoes through all hatches at once. There is an equal stretch of fifteen miles along the west bank of the river within the port limits, although as yet only a moderate portion of this space available for shipping is used.

  • Along the harbor front there are five great grain elevators, extensive railroad terminals, including the famed Stuyvesant Docks, belonging to the Illinois Central Railroad. There are several fruit docks, with covered sheds, for the handling of tropical fruit. Another conspicuous feature is the fine new coffee dock, with its immense iron shed to protect freight from the weather. Along the city's wharves will be seen some of the largest freight ships afloat.

  • The best way to see the river front is to walk along the levee. It is called the levee because it consists of a great bank of earth thrown up to protect the city from the invasion of the Mississippi, which at flood rises far above the level of the streets. For many years, however, the river along most of the front has withdrawn itself a good way from the original channel, so that many solid blocks of buildings now stand where the Mississippi flowed when Bienville first looked upon it. The constant additions made to the levee in consequence cause a gradual slope up to the river front. The slope begins at a considerable distance back, and the ascent up hill is so gradual as to be imperceptible.

  • Many interesting sights attract along the river front.

  • Near the foot of Canal Street is the

  • Steamboat Landing,

    where boats of all sorts and sizes, from the stately river packets which trade up the river to Vicksburg, Memphis, Cairo and St. Louis, to the little sternwheelers which run up Red River and into Bayou Atchafalaya and along the lower Mississippi coast, are to be seen the year round.

  • Here the packets lie, busily receiving and discharging freight. The immense loads of cotton and sugar which they take on, make them especially interesting to the stranger. It is very picturesque to see the throngs of darkies handling these cargoes, and singing old plantation melodies or camp-meeting hymns as they work away. When the vessels are loaded to the guards and are ready to leave a great shout goes up from the throng of laborers and roustabouts. Then they turn their attention to the next big cargo.

  • The Sugar Exchange,

    where the members conduct many of those operations which regulate the price of sugar throughout the country is on the corner of Front and Bienville Streets. The Exchange is a building of magnificent proportions. Facing the levee are the salesrooms, vestibule and telegraph offices; on the second floor are the library, reading-room and museum and committee rooms. The building throughout exhibits exquisite taste in ornamentation. Upon the walls hang the portraits of Etienne de Bore, the first great sugar planter of Louisiana, Don Antonio Mendes, who first granulated sugar from cane in the old Parish of St. Bernard, and Jean Joseph Coiron, who in 1818 put up on his plantation in Terre-aux-Boeufs the first steam engine ever used to grind sugar, and in 1820 introduced from Georgia the red-ribbon cane in place of the tender Creole variety. The New Orleans Sugar Exchange has about 211 members, and wields a powerful influence in the commerce of the State. In the vicinity of the Exchange are several great refineries, where the crude products of the sugarhouses on the plantations are changed into the beautiful white sugar that is seen on the table. They are worth a visit. Trees and shrubbery adorn the triangular islet near the Bienville side of the Exchange.

  • The Fruit Landing

    is just above Canal, near the head of Thalia Street, where almost any day major be found vessels discharging great cargoes of tropical fruits, bananas, oranges, lemons, mangos, pineapples, cocoanuts, etc. These are brought from ports on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. A large quantity of this fruit, especially the ripest of it, stops In New Orleans, where it finds a ready sale in the markets at ridiculously low prices; but the great bulk of it is loaded into cars right at the fruit wharves, and in a few hours after the arrival of the ship Is flying northward towards Louisville, Cincinnati, Chicago, St. Louis and other cities, to be sold there.

At the corner of Levee and Toulouse stood until 1826, when it was destroyed by fire, the old French Colonial "Government House."

At the head of St. Louis Street are the wharves of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, which runs a regular line of steamships from this point to New York. The steamships come here loaded with miscellaneous cargoes, and carry off immense cargoes of cotton, sugar, molasses, rice, cotton seed oil and other characteristic Southern products. Immense sheds will be erected during 1904.

At a short distance below are the wharves of the Harrison Line, which trades between New Orleans and Liverpool, running two and three steamers a week, and sometimes one a day, when the trade is very brisk.

Just in front of the French Market, along the Levee line, is the

Lugger Landing, or "Picayune Tier

Here the Dago fishermen from the lower coast land their cargoes of oranges and oysters, and here gathers a swarm of luggers, with motley crews of traders, hustling about unloading cargoes of oysters, fish, oranges, vegetables and all the various offerings of the land and water along the bayous and lakes of the lower Louisiana coast. When waiting for a cargo of some sort to set sail again they loiter idly about, smoking cigarettes or cooking their meals over queer little charcoal furnaces. The "Tier" is a picturesque sight.

At the foot of Hospital Street is the landing of the New Orleans and Porto Rico Steamship Company, a line that has been established since the American occupation of Porto Rico, and which is already bringing large consignments of coffee from this tropical island, carrying back principally cargoes of Louisiana rice, which is fast finding a market in the island.

The Morgan Ferry Landing, where the Southern Pacific Company's freight cars are transferred by ferries to the Algiers side of the river, is at the foot of Elysian Fields Street. Transfers of passengers are made now at Avondale, about nine miles up the river.

The ferries which ply between New Orleans proper and Algiers all have their houses along the river front, at such convenient points as the foot of Canal Street, the French Market, the foot of Esplanade, Jackson, Louisiana Avenues and the foot of Richard Street.

Towards the lower limits of the port, on the Algiers side, is situated the

New Naval Station,

with its mammoth floating dry dock, the next largest /lock of the kind in the world. This immense structure is capable of raising high and dry a vessel of 18,000 tons displacement. It is over 500 feet long, and its inside measurement between the side walls is 100 feet.

While the great dock was designed primarily to care for the ships of the Navy, it is available for docking merchant ships of a greater size than the local private docks can accommodate. By permission of the Navy Department, a number of merchant vessels have already been docked, and other vessels can have the use of the dock whenever they desire, provided no naval vessels are at the time waiting to go in the structure.

Bermuda, which is slightly larger than the dock here, but it has not as great lifting capacity. A visit to the dock and Naval Station will prove instructive and interesting. New buildings, making vast improvements, were erected at the Station during 1903.

Quaintest of all in this ever-changing panorama along the levee are the

Batture Folks,

a queer people who live outside the revetment on the river side. The batture is an alluvial elevation of the bed of the river caused by the constant washing of the great stream towards the Algiers side. The batture is continually being enlarged by the sandy deposits from the river, especially along the front from Louisiana Avenue up the stream. As far back as 1807 this batture land was the subject of controversies between the owners of the soil along the river front of the Faubourg Ste. Marie and the folks who came and made their homes there. In September, 1807 there occurred the "Batture Riots," and the eminent jurist, Edward Livingston, represented private claimants, but was opposed by the public in two distinct outbreaks.

The batture is peopled by quaint shifting people who come down the river in skiffs looking for homes. They build their houses along this deposit, under the shadow of the levee, the most interesting settlements being from Louisiana Avenue towards Carroll ton. The houses are built like flatboats, on stilts, in such a way that they are enabled to rise and float; for the batture is dry or submerged, according to the season. Numerous floating galleries connect the houses with the shore. When the batture is dry the people lay out little vegetable gardens and pretty flower plots, that make their homes very picturesque and attractive. They keep chickens and goats, and gain their living by going out in skiffs, picking up driftwood and selling it in town. The batture is considered outside the city's limits, and is no man's land. The people living there take advantage of this, paying no taxes or rentals. No sight in New Orleans is more picturesque than these floating houses under the big wharves, rising and falling with the stream. The batture people are very good-natured and kind, and have a hospitality that is all their own.

The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans, 1904
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