In 1832, Alexander Milne built a privately owned 50-foot-high Lighthouse and developed the area which he called Port Pontchartrain which handled cargo from the Gulf Coast communities and was a terminal for passengers going and coming to Mandeville and Gulf Coast Mississippi and Alabama communities where many Orleanians owned second homes for health, relaxation, and recreation.
While the port handled cargo from the Gulf Coast, the surrounding land developed into a resort area, with the Lake House tavern and Washington Hotel including three bathhouses. There were other hotels, restaurants, camps, and saloons. Eventually, the name Milneburg connoted a resort area rather than an industrial port that was located at the lake front, foot of Elysian Fields.
1839 Map at left, shows land developments and promotions at the lake front.
However, many people preferred getting out over water on raised pilings as shown at right in 1875 photo. These were usually referred to as "Camps," short for "Fishing Camps."
Orleanians rode the famous "Smoky Mary" out to the many camps that dotted the shoreline and to the hotels, restaurants, roadhouses, shooting galleries, bathing facilities and fishing piers. It was at Milneburg's bandstands, dance halls and honky-talks that much of New Orleans' early jazz was first heard.
The popularity of Milneburg began to wane as the amusement parks at West End and Spanish Fort became big attractions.
Like Spanish Fort, Milneburg fell victim to changing tastes and to the massive construction projects undertaken by the Orleans Levee Board and the WPA in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The development of the seawall along the lake, the prohibition era, and the last run of “Smoky Mary” in 1931, signaled the end of the village as it was.
A New Beginning with the Second Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park
Pontchartrain Beach #2 amusement park moved from Spanish Fort to Milneburg in 1939. The Zephyr roller coaster was built by Edward Vettel. The 60-acre amusement park also included the Port Pontchartran/Milneburg lighthouse that had been located offshore before land reclamation. All the infrastructure and buildings were performed by the WPA.
The Zephyr was under construction near the army camp.
The Bath House Lobby and 2000 lockers -- boys to the left -- girls to the right
or was it vice-versa
Before Beach Sand dredging and after -- showing sand beach and broadway.
Even after "The Beach" was closed down there were a few years that the Bali Hai had reopened and brought patrons from the parking lot by way of a conveyance vehicle.
Swimming was day and night and there was a large wooden raft that was far out enough that it was necessary to swim to. It was often used for sun bathing and diving from. While walking the broadway, it seemed that every half hour the PA system was announcing a lost child.
There were always events and activities and performers from bathing beauty contests to aerialists, magicians, high divers, etc.
Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park
Riding the Zephyr
Laugh in the Park, Ride in the Dark
Up, Up, and Away on the Zephyr
at Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park.
Pontchartrain Beach was a wonderful place to spend an evening or a weekend. There was also the Bali Hai Restaurant with its Tiki drinks.
1948 U.S. Naval Air Station a.k.a. Camp Leroy Johnson & Pontchartrain Beach
The U.S. Naval Air Station, and, above it, Pontchartrain Beach. During World War II, the long factory building above Pontchartrain Beach at Franklin Avenue housed Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Co., which built seaplanes. By 1948 the facility had been converted to private industrial use.
The Lockheed Airplane Plant was located right next to the Zephyr by several hundred feet. It was built in the early 1940s and later became part of the site for the University of New Orleans --- later, LSU of New Orleans.
1958 LSUNO opens
The Louisiana State University of New Orleans site was acquired in 1956 under a 99-year lease. After renovation of existing buildings, classes were offered in 1958. The school, later re-named the University of New Orleans, became a full four-year university in 1961. The photo shows the general area in 1948 which includes the former air station and Pontchartrain Beach.
"The Beach" closed in 1983 and is now the location of the UNO Technology Park.