In 1890 the Orleans Levee Board, having an intimate relationship between the problem of drainage and of levee construction, offered a prize of $2,500 for the best plan for the drainage of the city.
In September 1892, the first successful step was taken to study and design a drainage plan of the swamps bordering Lake Pontchartrain. In that month an ordinance was introduced into the city council appropriating $17,500 which was finally adopted in February, 1893. Work, thereafter, was inaugurated in the following July.
Most of the land reclamation from Lake Pontchartrain's southshore was performed during the WPA era -- 1920s - 1940s. In conjunction with the authority of the Orleans Levee Board, swamps were drained and filled, and streets were laid out and numerous facilities were constructed for public use. Residential developments soon came about as shown by the three focal points of West End, Spanish Fort, and Milneburg.
The entire eastward stretch of the Lake was bordered by clusters of fishing camps on pilings until the initiation in 1926 of the 51/2 mile- 2000 acre land fill.
The original lakeshore was located at Robert E. Lee Boulvard. Hundreds of New Orleans lake front camps, from West End to Milneburg, were demolished during the 1920s and 1930s due to the massive land reclamation which created Lakeshore Drive and several subdivisions.
This Lakefront Improvement Project ultimately provided an ample shoreline strip converted to a landscaped park which became the bedwork for the residential developments of Lake View (1927), Lake Vista (1936), Lakeshore (1951), Lake Terrace (1953), Lake Oaks (1964), in addition to New Orleans (Shushan) Airport (1929-34).
Above and Below photos show clusters of Fishing Cabins at Milneburg
as they were lined up all the way to West End in the early 1900s. The above photo shows the Milneburg lighthouse and a long wooden breakwater.
Above photo shows new reclaimed lands after dredging as percieved by looking east
from the Milneburg lighthouse.
Bottom photo shows 1941 view of Lakefront Improvement Project looking east
from the New Basin Canal lighthouse at West End.
Seeing the four boys in trunks above reminds me of the hundreds of highschool sorority and fraternity boys and girls that lined the whole of the seawall pedestrian walk basking in the sun each Spring/Summer weekend. The girls usually took up fixed stations of ground marked with Greek lettering for each sorority so that the boys would know where to find them. Regardless, the boys walked the whole length from the lighthouse to Canal Boulevard checking out any new crops to admire.
Mid-center, near the top was "Krupp's" -- offering sandwiches, soft-drinks, snowballs, and iced cold watermelons all summer long. The rear area was for additional parking when the off street parking bays were full. During the heat of summer, parking was allowed on the grass covered area as thousands thronged to the cool breezes and bathing in the waters.
When in season, during the nights, all along the sea-wall steps were everyday folks casting out thier shrimp nets catching buckets and hampers of lake shrimp to take home to boil or prepare in their own cuisine fashion. Shrimping, fishing, and even crabbing was performed by the light of Coleman lanterns that lit up the entire coast line for miles.
The above shows the result of reclamation of just the West End portion of the Lakefront.