Modern New Orleans
April 2, 2010 6:51 PM   Subscribe

Fitzpatrick Traveltalks: Modern New Orleans, 1940

On the HistoryOfWidescreen YouTube Channel, which has other Traveltalks films (and a hell of a lot more).
posted by brundlefly (10 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Really good stuff, thanks for the post.
posted by nola at 7:01 PM on April 2, 2010

Man, those are some run-on, multi-clause sentences.
posted by empath at 7:02 PM on April 2, 2010

"En route to New Orleans, we cross the Mississippi River by way of this magnificent 13 million dollar structure, named the Huey Long Bridge, in honor of the late Huey P Long, former governor of Louisiana, to whom New Orleans is largely indebted for this wonder of modern engineering, which characterizes the indomitable spirit of the people of louisiana, and indicates the great strides being made in that state toward economic recovery."
Someone should diagram that one out.
posted by empath at 7:09 PM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

My thoughts as a New Orleanian:

- Uh, what? They came into NOLA via the Huey P. Long bridge? Where did they start out, the middle of nowhere?
- "Fourth-largest city in land area in the United States" -- oh, how the mighty have fallen.
- Man, the skyline sure does look radically different.
- Steamboats, however, haven't changed a bit.
- I can't help but feel some (perhaps unnecessary) white guilt watching black people push around huge bales of cotton with hand trucks while the white guy gets to use the tractor.
- Canal Street may be "one of the widest main streets in the world" and is for sure the widest 'Street' in the United States.
- Man, parts of Canal St. and the French Quarter don't look any different at all. Way to go, preservationists.
- "At one time it was thought the soil of New Orleans was too soggy to support a building of more than two or three stories" - but now we're up to 51.
- It made me sad to see Charity Hospital all brand new and loved. Read about its current struggles in our newspaper. Long story short it lies empty and unused since the storm.
- Man, the front of Tulane University hasn't changed at all either.
- The home shown at 5:55 was just for sale at somewhere over $4 million, if I'm not mistaken. Prices aren't so bad down here.
- Man, the airport is SO DIFFERENT.
- Oh, man the Saenger sign! The Lowes sign! So pretty to see them lit up like that!
- What? It's over already? I was enjoying the hell out of that!

So thank you, brundlefly. Thank you very much.
posted by komara at 7:45 PM on April 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

Oops, re: the home at 5:55 - it looks like it's still on the market for $6 million.
posted by komara at 7:55 PM on April 2, 2010

How did I manage to screw up that link? Let's try that again.
posted by komara at 7:56 PM on April 2, 2010

thanks, komara, for the link to that house. i was wondering where it was.

and the airport ... i think they're talking about the lakefront airport, which in recent history was used more or less as an almost private landing field for small planes. (the rich & famous would fly into lakefront instead of louis armstrong international to escape crowds of fans. one of my friends used to go hang out there & play 'spot the stars' before events like jazz fest and essence and big sporting events.) lakefront was an amazing example of art deco design ... at least before katrina. i haven't been out there since the storm.

and that shot toward the end with the sanger/lowes signs lit up? reminded me of two things:

- when i came back in early october 2005, most of the city was still dark. i'd work at my house until just before dusk, and then head down canal street to the quarter, where i could actually find food. that 4-mile drive was like going to see the wizard--the incandescent street lights in the distance, the red/yellow/green of the stop lights, the occasional billboard lit up; it was coming out of the darkness & into the light and boy, was there hope associated with that drive!

- i was playing tour guide for a california resident last year for voodoo fest. i was driving him down to his hotel on canal street, and he said, 'sanger reopening. what's that about?' i almost wrecked my car. i'd thought they were going to raze the thing after big k blew through--i haven't been in there but know people who were & they said it was ruined inside. but there it was on the marquee--reopening fall 2011 (i think that was the date). it was an emotional moment for me; more so than when shell put up a billboard in early 2006 that said 'we're coming home.*'

that clip is sad, though, if for no other reason than the huey p. being a wonder of modern architecture--that thing is like a warped carnival ride. and you're right, komara: the mighty have fallen. they talked about a population of a half million; less the 'burbs, that's all we had pre-katrina. arrested development.

thanks for the post, brundlefly!

*no love for big oil here, but at that time, businesses were folding & bailing out at an amazing rate. that ANY ONE OF THEM would willingly restart here almost brought tears to my eyes.
posted by msconduct at 5:53 AM on April 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

TCM plays the Traveltalks a lot, in-between features. They're pretty quaint and an interesting look at our past.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:15 AM on April 3, 2010

My, that Huey P. Long was quite a fellow! (And with such an unpretentious house!)

Needless to say, I love the images and get off on the old-style voiceover, with its plummy tones and confident clichés. I was very struck, however, that they didn't mention a single thing we tend to associate with New Orleans today (well, they did mention "nightlife" at the end): no jazz, no corruption, no black people (well, you can see them toting bales), no danger of flooding (I don't think they even said the word "levee"), no Mardi Gras, no Vieux Carré... just a modern city, full of modern people and modernity. And ships from around the world, under the flags of all nations. Did I mention that it's modern?
posted by languagehat at 11:29 AM on April 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think that new orleans might have a catalog of records once held, now lost.

most multicultural, multi-lingual american city, 1860
longest causeway, pre-rise of China
most advanced urban drainage system, 1911

it's comical to hear the Huey P being discussed as a testament to modernity; my whole life the commentary has ever been how dangerous / deadly the structure seems.
posted by eustatic at 8:44 PM on April 6, 2010

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