Algiers: The Right Bank


Part I


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In 1955, Algiers historian Richard Dixon wrote prophetically, "The Westside should experience its greatest period of expansion and progress when the Mississippi River Bridge is completed." And, indeed, after the Greater New Orleans Mississippi River Bridge formally opened to traffic on October 18, 1958, development on the West Bank exploded. In 1950, the population of Algiers was just over 27,000. Twenty years later, it had reached nearly 52,500, and housing units had more than tripled.

This photograph, from the 1959 Martin Behrman High School yearbook, shows the bridge just as the Left Bank and the Right Bank made their first physical contact -- and the climate of life in Algiers was forever altered.

Algiers' favorite son, Mayor Martin Behrman, "discussing deep waterway with a friend on the ferry" on his way from his home at 228 Pelican Avenue to a day's work at City Hall. This is one of a series of 25 photographs taken ca. 1910 by John Hypolite Coquille, a staff photographer for the Times-Democrat, illustrating a "typical" day during Mayor Behrman's administration. Behrman served as Mayor of New Orleans longer than any other mayor, elected for four straight terms from 1904 to 1920. Re-elected for a fifth term in 1925, Behrman died a year later, greatly mourned (and memorialized) by his fellow Algerines. All of Coquille's wonderful photographs have been posted on our website, NUTRIAS, at nutrias.org/photos/____.

[John Hypolite Coquille, Martin Behrman Album]

The ferryboat Algiers, 1920. Before the construction of the Huey P. Long Bridge in the 1930s and the Greater New Orleans Bridge in the 1950s, the only public transportation between Algiers and the rest of the "other side" was via the ferries that ran back and forth across the River. William J. Barker, a resident of Algiers, took the photograph displayed here. Earlier this year his son donated a collection of photographs to the Louisiana Division. More images from the William J. Barker Collection are displayed in the tall case to the right of this panel.
Algiers ended the nineteenth century with one of the most famous events in its history. On October 20, 1895 a small fire managed to grow into a general conflagration. Before firefighters brought the flames under control the old court house had been destroyed along with dozens of other buildings, commercial and residential, in the adjacent squares. The front page of the Daily States tells the awful story and catalogs the community's losses.


Introduction || Part I || Part II || Part III || Part IV || Part V || Part VI || Part VII