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West End Amusement Park 

1890's West End Garden Amusement Park
Source:
The Historic New Orleans Collection


Historically, the lakefront was a resort area where brass bands played at amusement parks, dance pavilions, saloons, picnics, and family "camps" (i.e., cabins on piers for weekend retreats). Early jazz musicians of all races and economic classes performed in groups at the lakefront, which was important as a place where musical ideas and techniques were shared and mixed. Joseph Sharkey Bonano was born in Milneburg. Most of the lakefront relating to jazz history was irreversibly altered in the late 1920s when the shoreline from West End to the east of Milneburg (more than 5 1/2 miles) was extended about 2,000 feet into Lake Pontchartrain. Important sites that were obliterated by the reclamation project and other efforts included Tranchina's and the Tokyo Gardens at Spanish Fort, the boardwalk and stilt camps at Milneburg, and the West End Roof Garden. Only a few isolated and altered structures related to early jazz remain today
     
West End was originally called New Lake End to distinguish it from Old Lake End, which sometimes referred to Milneburg.
 The Mexican Gulf Ship Canal Company had begun construction of a harbor with railroad facilities when the city acquired the company’s partially built embankment at the New Basin Canal and the Seventeenth Street Canal. The 100 foot wide bank was raised to a height of eight feet. Subsequently, the New Orleans City and Lake Railroad routed trains to the embankment, which was developed to house the West End resort.

A hotel, a restaurant, a garden and various amusement spots were built on a large wooden platform that was constructed over the water. In 1880, New Lake End took the name West End. Sailing and rowing regattas added to the popularity of West End. Over the next 30 years, West End achieved popularity to rival the resort at Spanish Fort.
West End contributed to the early development of jazz in New Orleans. Its bandstand was a center for early jazz concerts performed by notable jazz musicians including Louis Armstrong. The famous jazz song “West End Blues” was inspired by this resort area.
In 1921, the city completed improvements that included the construction of a seawall 500 feet further out in the lake and filling in the space between the old embankment, expanding the park to thirty acres, all of which resulted in the present West End Park. The first houses were built near West End Park around the 1920s

The New Basin Canal reached the Lake at West End, a resort area that flourished from the 1880s to around 1920. New Orleanians rode steam and later electrified trains or took the Shell Road to the site, where there were restaurants, amusement rides, musical entertainment, and movies shown outdoors. Mannessier's, at right, was a branch of Mannessier's Confectionery, a famous coffee, ice cream and pastry shop on Royal Street. The pavilion operated at West End from about 1899-1911.

West end music pavilion Creator: Lilienthal, Theodore, 1829- Description: Empty chairs set around a white gazebo at the music pavilion on Lake Pontchartrain. Rowles Stereograph Photographs
Source: Louisiana State Museum


 

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