Photos by John G. DeMajo (except where indicated)
The U. S. Coast Guard New Basin Canal Lighthouse circa: 1970

I was first introduced to West End as a very young child of the Post World War II generation. My childhood and young adult experiences have carved a place in my memory and in my heart for what was one of the most interesting places in my home city of New Orleans.

It was always an exciting time when, in the evening, we ventured out in my dad's 1936 Dodge coupe for a night on the town, which usually meant a trip to the New Orleans lakefront. On humid New Orleans Summer evenings in the late 1940s and early 50s, we would make weekly trips on Sunday or Wednesday evenings to West End Park to watch the water show and band concerts at the West End Park Fountain. I can vividly remember walking to the edge of the water filled basin with my father, peering through the thick Ligrustrum hedge that surrounded the outer basin, and watching the crew of workers from the City as they operated the water and light show, by hand, from a little machine room located under the main structure from which the plumes of colored water emerged. There was always an air of excitement when dad steered the old Dodge out on Lakeshore Drive, and the 7UP and red Mobil Oil Flying Horse signs came into view as we were about to drive onto the bridge that crossed the New Basin at West End.

I remember too my first taste of soft-shell crabs on Po-boy sandwiches from the restaurants at the back of the park, where my father often stopped after the weekly fountain water show. My mother was a great fan of soft shell crab po-boys, and it became routine to pick up these wonderful treats whenever they were in season. Driving with open windows (no air conditioned cars in those days) I recall the smell of frying seafood and the chime sounds made by the rigging on the boats in the harbor. There was always that cool breeze that floated across the lake in New Orleans summer evenings, which allowed us to survive in the city's heat and humidity.. While the Po-Boy sandwiches were frequent, on some evenings, after watching the show at the fountain, we would drive along the New Basin levee road on what was West End Boulevard, and we would arrive at the ice cream shop known as The Half Way House on City Park Avenue at the foot of another draw bridge that extended City Park Avenue into Metairie Road.

Years later, as a young adult, I spent evenings fishing from the seawall or watching "submarine races" with ladies I happened to be dating at the time. A road had been extended out onto the breakwater that protected the harbor entrance on what we called "The Point," and by the 1960s it had become a favorite hangout of the dating crowd. In fact, it was while sitting at "the Point" one night that I proposed to the lady who became my wife of forty-five years.

West End was always a favorite a place for special family dining events. Friday night and Sunday dinners with my mother, and my wife, at places like Fitzgerald's, Bruning's, and Papa Rosselli's, was something we did quite often. Although I was never much of a consumer of alcoholic beverages, the experience of a good cold Jax beer, after a meal of salty seafood, really seemed to hit the spot.

Yes, West End was a magical place for a kid growing up on New Orleans's lakefront in the 1950s and 60s. As an adult in the late 1960s, I purchased a 19 foot lightning sailboat and learned to sail at a place called Walet's Yacht Sales on the New Basin Canal. The calm that usually fell over Lake Pontchartrain on summer evenings at sunset, made for some pleasant relaxation and memories with friends who came aboard my little "yacht".

Like most of New Orleans, many changes occurred at West End over the years, some good and some not so good, but when Katrina struck, and I realized that the West End I knew and loved would forever more become just a memory, I decided to document some of the personal and public history that made this once resort park, a place loved by New Orleanians. It was to that end that I decided to assemble this web site which includes old photographs that I had taken over the years, as well as some shared by friends who also appreciated West End. For those of you who might share memories of this unique part of New Orleans culture, I hope that you enjoy this little walk through a time and place that New Orleans folks would say "ain't dere no mo." Please also feel free to share your own photo memories, which I will gladly add to the site if you so desire.

John DeMajo



The early New Orleans lakeshore resort area known as WEST END, dates back to 1835 when it was first founded as "New Lake End." In 1880, the name was changed to West End.

Prior to the reclamation of the shore of Lake Pontchartrain at New Orleans by the Orleans Levee Board and the WPA, the Orleans Parish shore of the lake was mostly swampy land, dotted with over-water fishing camps and three resort communities that were, for the most part built over water. Spanish Fort, Milneburg and West End became popular gathering places for New Orleanians seeking leisure. In the 1860's a boardwalk had been constructed over the swampy area of the lake at the extreme west of Orleans Parish and the Jefferson Parish border. The U.S. Lighthouse Service had constructed a lighthouse at the mouth of what had become the entrance to the "New Canal."

Before the construction of the New Canal, a previous canal existed in New Orleans known as the Basin or Carondelet Canal after the name of its original builder. It was from this waterway that Basin Street, the street immortalized in the familiar Spencer Williams' tune "Basin Street Blues," got its name. The Basin started with Bayou St. John, and ran from Lake Pontchartrain, up along the path that is now St. Louis Street, to the area where Orleans Avenue and Claiborne Avenue meet. It was here that Basin Street was located, one block over from North Rampart. For many years, the old Basin had no levees or flood control, and when the lake tides would rise, sections of the French Quarter would flood badly. This contributed to health problems that plagued the early settlement, and it made future use of much of the land questionable. Once past Bayou St. John, the Carondelet Canal was narrow, and did not allow passage of larger vessels.

By the early 1800s, the need for a new, better designed canal had become evident. A company known as the New Orleans Canal And Banking Company was formed in 1831, for the purpose of obtaining the necessary right-of-way, and for seeing to the construction of the actual canal. The new canal would serve as a passage for barges carrying shells and other building products, lumber, cotton, and other commodities into the heart of New Orleans business and manufacturing area. The planners identified the ideal inlet to the canal as being a slip off of the City's western most end at Lake Pontchartrain, just at the point where New Orleans met Jefferson Parish. A great deal of the land between the Lake and downtown, at the time, was undeveloped cypress swamp, so right-of-way for construction was easy to obtain.

At the time, there was a great influx of Irish immigrants entering New Orleans, mainly due to the "Great Potato Famine" that had devastated Ireland in the early part of the 1800's. The Irish settlers had found refuge in the area of New Orleans now known as the "Irish Channel," and they were mostly destitute and willing to accept any work that came along. The owners of the newly formed canal company recognized that the Irish were a source of cheap labor, and under virtually "Slave" conditions, thousands of Irishmen were put to work on the project, lasting through most of the 1830s. Given the sub-human conditions, hundreds of workers were lost mainly due to disease such as Yellow Fever and Typhoid. There was also little attention paid to safety, and many workers died as the result of accidents during construction. Today, the plight of the New Basin Canal workers has finally been acknowledged, and a monument has been constructed along the former path of the canal, acknowledging the contributions made by an estimated 30,000 workers.

The new canal, and the activity it brought, was partially responsible for the early development of St. Tammany Parish. Shortly after the canal opened to water traffic, a system of steam ferries was established to provide transportation to the towns of Mandeville and Madisonville on the North Shore of the lake. The project had been started by Bernard De Marigny, a plantation owner and one of the city's early businessmen. The ferry service operated into the 1930s when the first automotive highway bridges to Slidell were constructed, first by the Watts and Williams Company, and then by the State of Louisiana under the administration of Governor Huey P. Long. In years prior to the construction of the New Basin, timber and other resources were brought into the city by way of Bayou St. John. There were also a great deal of valuable bald cypress trees existing in the swampy areas close to the New Orleans lake shore in what is now Lakeview. The New Basin provided a way in which those trees could be harvested and exported.

The port of West End was identified as the ideal place for the new canal to open into the lake, and the area had already seen some primitive development from the presence of Marigny's ferry operation. As the canal was completed, and boat traffic began to flow, a resort community soon grew around the West End port. Before long, it was made further accessible by way of a Street railway line that was extended out from Canal Street, and later by car travel on roads that were constructed along the canal banks. By the 1890s a bustling marine resort existed, complete with a board walk, hotel, and several food service, dancing and entertainment establishments. Interestingly, in what can be seen as a parallel to today's shopping malls and resort areas, motion pictures and musical entertainment establishments often found their way into these early resorts..

While hurricanes in the Gulf Of Mexico have always posed a threat to the New Orleans lakefront, the hurricane of 1915 caused considerable damage to the over-water West End infrastructure. Because of the massive damage caused by this storm, the city considered an experimental program that would use dredges to pump sand from the lake bottom, and deposit it in the swampy areas along the shore, thereby extending the shoreline and creating dry useable land which did not previously exist. In early 1920s, West End became the first area where this was tried, and seawalls, boat harbors, and a park were built. Dry land now replaced the over-water boardwalk park, which allowed more permanent structures to be constructed, In the 1930s several additional miles of lakefront land were reclaimed by a WPA/Orleans Levee Board reclamation project that produced what is now the seawall that runs the length of the Orleans Parish lakeshore from West End to the Industrial Canal. Throughout the years, West End remained a center of commerce serving both the yacht and private boating interests. By the 1940s, it had also become home to some of New Orleans finest and most notable restaurants, as well as marine service contractors.

The marine and restaurant trade made West End locations profitable for most of a century, despite the Great Depression, two major wars, and the occasional hurricanes that struck the area. It was not until Hurricane Katrina that the restaurant trade was almost completely eradicated. Katrina also took her toll on the yachting industry at West End as well. Many boats were destroyed, the Southern Yacht Club burned to the ground, and many of the marine service facilities were put out of business due to the extensive damage caused by the wind and flooding. Although the area has seen some slow recovery over a almost two decades since Katrina struck, the original ambience of West End has been lost, and is merely a memory to the declining generation who still remember West End's heyday.


A view of the New Basin Canal at Lake Pontchartrain dating to approximately 1920. (Photo from Wikipedia)

There has been some confusion regarding this 1920s photo. On several sites, it appears to have been reversed, however we believe that this is the correct orientation. The building on the left of the New Basin Canal is believed to be the ferry terminal which serviced the two steam ferries that traveled to and from the North Shore. The large strip of land, protruding to the right, appears to be the beginning of West End Park, having just been turned into reclaimed land, and the body of water behind it would be what was to become the Orleans Marina for the State of Louisiana. The New Orleans Yacht Harbor had not yet been created in this photo, but it would have been on the foreground side of the reclaimed land that became West End Park. The viewer is looking up the canal toward town, and the camera was probably located on the upper floor of the Southern Yacht Club building.

LEFT: The ferry New Camillia, which ran from Madisonville to New Orleans, docked along the eastern bank of the New Basin Canal circa 1920. The building in the background across the canal is the Southern Yacht Club building of that era, and the camera, in this photo, was probably located in the ferry terminal building on the east bank of the canal. In the photo on the right, a ferry is docking on the eastern side of the slip leading out to the lighthouse. After the 1930s reclamation, that area would become dry land on what would be the extension of West End Boulevard into Lakeshore Drive. Note the position of the lighthouse in the background.

Until the early 1950s, access to West End was limited to a hand operated wooden foot bridge that spanned the New Basin Canal in the area of the present Lighthouse Harbor Condominiums building. That bridge provided access to the boardwalk area which contained amusement park rides, a hotel, restaurants and an open movie theater. In 1921, after much damage was inflicted by the 1915 hurricane, a project by the City of New Orleans filled much of the over-water park area with lake sand, thereby allowing West End to become a land based park. Later, The Orleans Levee Board, with assistance from the Works Progress Administration, reclaimed much of New Orleans' present day Lakefront through the use of dredges that pumped sand from the lake bottom, to behind a concrete bulkhead. This massive undertaking extending the shore of Lake Pontchartrain almost a mile out into the lake. The newly constructed seawall stretched for ten miles, beginning at West End and ending at the new airport constructed at the Southern Railway Seabrook crossing of the Industrial Canal.

By creating a land based park and recreation area at the site of the former over-water resort, construction of permanent docks, boat houses, and marine and food service facilities began to develop in the area. At that time, the old wooden draw bridge, that had provided access to the boardwalk community, was replaced with an electric draw bridge that could handle vehicular traffic. This new electrically operated steel bridge allowed widening of the canal to permit greater access to boat traffic, as well as permitting automobiles to drive into the area alongside West End Park.

In or about 1923, the City contracted with the Electric Fountain Company Of America to provide a technologically sophisticated (for the period) massive fountain which featured changing light and water patterns that could be adjusted from a remote operator's hut. The new fountain was featured in weekly concerts in the park. The water and lights were given the illusion of "dancing" to the music of live musicians who performed beside the fountain's basin. Often, these shows featured the New Orleans Police Department Band, military bands, or jazz ensembles from the area. Outdoor motion picture shows were also presented in the park until the time when the introduction of talking pictures made the outdoor theatre concept no longer feasible.


An aerial map of West End showing the locations of the various attractions referenced on this site. (Yahoo Maps)


1. The entrance to the New Basin Canal from Lake Pontchartrain.

2. The path followed by the canal into the heart of New Orleans. The canal was closed to this point in the early 1950s. It followed the path of the present Pontchartrain Expressway into town, ending at Julia and Howard Avenue near the old Jahncke Materials offices.

3. This was the location of the second of two identical draw bridges built in 1921. This bridge spanned the entrance to the yacht harbor. It was removed in the mid-1940s when increased boat traffic in the harbor rendered it a nuisance because of the repeated need to open the bridge to permit water traffic to pass into the harbor. Photos of the bridge, before its removal. and also of the piers of the demolished bridge, after the draw was removed, are shown below.

4. The West End Electric Fountain positioned in the center of West End Park.

5. The breakwater. Originally this was just a bulkhead that was not accessible to cars. In the 1950s a road was extended out to the end of the breakwater, which was known to New Orleanians as "the Point." The roadway was given the name Breakwater Drive.

6. Restaurant Row, the location of many of the original seafood restaurants, which were constructed on pilings over lake water. Over the years, these included such noted establishments as Maggie & Smitty's, Bruning's, Papa Rosselli's, Fitzgerald's, Kirsch's, Swanson's, Federico's and the original My-O-My, a club which featured female impersonators as entertainers. Many of the restaurants were technically located in Jefferson Parish, so although they were accessible by land only from Orleans Parish,

7. The entrance to the 17th. Street Outfall Canal. The canal was part of the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board drainage system, but it also formed the divide between Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Land to the West of the canal, near the West End portion of New Orleans, was known as "Bucktown, " a village mostly inhabited by fishermen who fished the lake commercially.

8. The public yacht basin. The area to the front of this basin was exclusively for the use of the Southern Yacht Club, while the area toward the Jefferson Parish line was available for lease by the general public.

9. The location of the Southern Yacht Club, second oldest yacht club in the United States. The first club house was built on this location in 1879. It was replaced with a new grand building in 1899. In 1920 the structure was renovated and enlarged. By 1949, the old building had deteriorated from age and from the great hurricane of 1947. It was again replaced by the third new building in the history of the prestigious organization. The 1949 building served as the club's headquarters until the time of Hurricane Katrina when it was destroyed by a fire that, left unchecked, burned for days. The Southern Yacht Club is now working to construct their fourth club house.

10. The Orleans Marina operated under the direction of the Orleans Levee Board and the State of Louisiana.

11. The site of the first electric draw bridge accessing West End (shown in the photo below). This bridge was the only access to West End for the first half of the Twentieth-Century. The bridge tied West End Boulevard / Lakeshore Drive to the West side of the New Basin Canal at what is now Lake Marina Avenue.

12. Magnolia GrandiFlora Grove and the West End Park lagoon and bridge which were constructed by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression.

13. The present site of the proposed Bucktown Marina. This area was part of Lake Pontchartrian until a breakwater was constructed in the late 1990s. The land along this part of the lakeshore came to be known as "Bucktown."

A detailed aerial photo of West End, showing the bridge at the entrance from Lakeshore Drive, and the businesses that were located along the canal. At the time, the bridge in the foreground was the only means of access to the area on the west side of the canal. In this photo, which dates to around 1947, the second draw bridge, which bridged the entrance to the yacht harbor, had already been removed. Note that a careful study of the enlarged photo reveals a different building in the location that was Fitzgerald's Restaurant. Historical records indicate that the original Fitzgerald building was destroyed in the 1947 hurricane, and later replaced with the building that existed into the 1990s. That would date the photo to some time before the 1947 hurricane struck New Orleans. To see a large scale version of this photo, click on the view above. .
This electric powered draw bridge provided access to West End until the closing of the New Basin Canal in the early 1950s. The bridge was located in the same approximate location as the present access road joining West End Boulevard and what is now called Lake Marina Avenue. Unknown to many, there was an identical bridge located inside of West End. It spanned the entrance to the old yacht basin (now the Orleans Marina) and it was removed near the end of World War II when it became a nuisance due to increased boat traffic in the marina. In conjunction with the removal of the second bridge, the roadway at Lake Marina Avenue was extended around the back of the harbor so that cars could access the park and restaurant area along the North and South Roadways. There was a similar third bridge of this type over the New Basin at City Park Avenue. According to information available on the web, these bridges were built by the Strauss Bascule Bridge Company of Chicago. Before the electric bridges were installed. a hand-operated swivel wooden bridge provided access to the over-water West End resort. (Bridge photos courtesy of The Louisiana Division / City Archives, New Orleans Public Library)
An early view of the draw bridge leading into West End, taken from what is now the West End Boulevard side. The photo probably dates to a time between 1930 and 1950, although the original was marked 1916. In this view, several "globes" are missing from the two light standards that illuminated the roadway, so this probably indicates that the bridge had not been recently constructed at the time the photo was taken .
An aerial view of the bridge that spanned the entrance to the Orleans Marina, removed during WW-II. Below, an actual photo taken from the roadway approaching the second bridge.
Another rare photo of the second electric bridge. This bridge was located on the Pontchartrain Blvd. (western) )side of the canal, spanning the entrance to the yacht harbor. The Southern Yacht Club building can be seen, in the distance, at the end of the road/

In this mid-1940s view, the second bridge had been removed, and only it's foundation remains. The bridge had become a nuisance in that it had to be raised and lowered constantly as boats entered and left the harbor. Eventually by the late 1950s, even the foundation was removed, and the entrance to the harbor was widened. The rare photo below is one of the only remaining photographs in which the entire bridge appears.

Above: An enhanced photo showing the bridge which spanned the yacht harbor entrance.
The Strauss Bascule Bridges that crossed the New Basin Canal at various arteries throughout the city, were of a unique design. I have had inquiries over the years as to how the bridges operated and what they looked like in various stages of their open and closed positions. The photo above should give the viewer an idea of how the bridge was constructed and how it traveled as it opened and closed. This animation was built in my studio from pictures borrowed from the LOUIS digital library historic collection.
Above and below are illustrations showing how the bridge mechanism worked. The bridge shown below is the third of three Strauss Bascule Company bridges, and was located at the City Park Avenue-Metairie Road crossing over the canal. The building behind the bridge was the restaurant, bar and ice cream shop known as the Half Way House, which derived its name because it was the half way point on the streetcar line from downtown to West End..
An artificially colorized version of the 1940s B&W photo above, which shows the second bridge at the entrance of the harbor, as well as some of the businesses located along the West End Boulevard side of the canal. The view is toward the city. The barracks style buildings to the left are part of the LaGarde U.S. Army/Navy Hospital, established during World War II on reclaimed land, and bounded by Robert E. Lee Boulevard, Canal Boulevard, West End, and Lakeshore Drive. After the war, the hospital served temporarily as part of the Ochsner Medical System, but it was abandoned and demolished when Ochsner opened their hospital on Jefferson Highway. The land is now occupied by high end residential homes.

An early photo of the hand operated "swing bridge" that spanned the east and west banks of the canal.
In contrast to the 1886 and 1940s photos above, this is how the entrance to West End looks today
(Photo by Kathleen DeMajo Adams)
Until the 1930s reclamation project, which created Lakeshore Drive, access to West End was primarily by this streetcar, which ran from the cemeteries at the end of Canal Street, out along the levee of the New Basin Canal to a landing at the eastern bank of the canal near the park, Below is a photo of the station where riders arrived and departed from the lakefront attraction. (Above photo from the Rev. D.R. Toye S.J. Collection)
The New Orleans Public Service Inc streetcar station near West End
The restaurants of West End offered some of the best seafood available in the New Orleans area. Beginning as early as the mid-1800s, with the arrival of Captain Bruning and his iconic Bruning's Seafood Restaurant, West End became synonymous with delicious seafood and New Orleans cuisine. Names like Fitzgerald's, Bruning's, Swanson's, Papa Rosselli's, Maggie and Smitty's Fontana's, and Kirsch's conjure many memories for seasoned New Orleanians who frequented these establishments. By the 1960s, West End's "restaurant row" was fully developed into one of the favorite spots for seafood and specialty food. The aerial photograph below indicates the locations of the various restaurants that were known over the years. West End was directly adjacent to the east end of Jefferson Parish, so the over-water portions of those buildings along West End Park were actually in Jefferson Parish. The area to the lower portion of the photo was known as Bucktown, a fishing village that bordered the lake and the 17th. Street Outfall Canal. By placing the restaurants and bars in Jefferson Parish, yet having access only through Orleans Parish, some of the businesses were able to get away with hosting gambling and other vices that were normally illegal in the city.
As mentioned, one of the earliest restaurateurs to arrive at Alexander Milne's West End resort was Theodore Bruning. Opening in 1859, Bruning's Restaurant served world-famous seafood dishes, under the ownership of the same family for 139 years. The Bruning family occupied a picturesque Victorian cottage that was just a few yards away, and which provided a picturesque view from the restaurant's dining room.
The Bruning home, located just across the 17th Street Canal from the restaurant, was occupied by five generations of the same family. The picturesque home, so typically Louisiana, was also featured in the 1990s movie "The Big Easy"
The original Bruning's location at 1924 West End Park. This building was damaged in Hurricane Georges in 1998. Sam Urate, Bruning's 5th generation owner, later relocated the business to the old Papa Rosselli location next door at 1904 West End Park. Bruning's Restaurant was the first seafood restaurant to open in the area at the Jefferson Parish side of West End Park. It was established in 1859.
Early photo of the massive historic bar at Bruning's It was rescued and now resides in a food and beverage society museum in New Orleans.
A 1960s view of diners in the original location Bruning's over-water dining room. Captain Bruning's Victorian cottage can be seen in the background.

Next to Brunings was the location of Papa Rosselli's Restaurant, 1904 West End Park, which featured some of the best Italian dishes offered in New Orleans. Dominick Rosselli owned a restaurant in the French Quarter that opened in 1920. The West End location was established in 1961. After the Rosselli family retired and closed the restaurant, Brunings moved into the building after the original Bruning's building was damaged in Hurricane Georges (1998).

Rosselli's as it appeared in 1962, just one year after the restaurant had moved from it's original 1920s location in the French Quarter, to West End Park. Photo courtesy of Mr. Doug Ross.
This residence, believed to once be the home of the Bernard Family, stood on the lake Pontchartrain side of the original Brunings Restaurant, which can be seen in the background. When Dominic Rosselli moved his Italian restaurant from the French Quarter to West End Park in the early 1960s, this house became the core of his new location. It can be seen in the photo above, along with the additions that Rosselli added. It remained as part of the same building, which later was taken over by Brunings Restaurant after the original Brunings building was destroyed in a previous hurricane. Sadly, the entire restaurant row, including the old Rosselli location, was leveled by Katrina. (Photo from the Tulane Library Jazz Collection)
Aside from Bruning's, one of the most popular restaurants at West End was Fitzgerald's, 1928 West End Park.. (Photo from La. State Library collection) Fitzgerald's originally opened as Rostrup's (see ad below). The original building was destroyed. we believe in the 1947 hurricane, but it was rebuilt in the early 1950s as shown above.
The photo above is an historic view of the original Fitzgerald's dining room. Of a much larger scale than the 1950 building, it was destroyed in 1947.
Above: A view of the bar in the later Fitzgerald's building. Below: a lake side view from the over-water dining room. (Photos courtesy of The New Orleans Collection)
Another popular dining establishment was the West End Tavern. Operated for a time by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Larroque of New Orleans, the restaurant and bar was located at the corner of Pontchartrain Boulevard and what is now Lake Marina Avenue. From information available, this business started in the 1930s, and underwent many legal problems and several changes in management. Like many of the West End eateries throughout the years, their advertising indicated that live bands were during the late 1930s.
Although on dry land, and on the opposite side of the road leading to Bucktown, Swanson's Seafood Restaurant was also a long time favorite. Established in the 1940s, and operating until 1980, Swanson also served up popular Lake Pontchartrain seafood dishes.
A view, photographed from West End Park, showing the entrances of Swanson's and Federico's seafood restaurants.
Over the years, restaurants came and went from the West End landscape, but a few of the old favorites persevered despite hurricanes, fires and economic changes. Some of the later restaurant offerings included The Dock, Yaeger's, The Bounty, The Pontchartrain Surf Club and others. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina completely destroyed all of those businesses that were over water at the western end of the park.
Those looking for a quick sandwich or seafood platter could find same at the open air restaurant called Maggie and Smitty's Crabnet. Located along the seawall at the western end of the park, food could be taken out from the serving window, or eaten at open air tables next to the kitchen. Founded in 1956 by Maggie Hemard, along with her sister Elaine (Smitty) and brother Lloyd, the restaurant was a West End favorite until it closed in 1993. Prior to closing, the name was changed to "Maggie's Seafood" as shown in the second photo below, when Smitty passed away. Although already closed, the restaurant and structure that housed it, was completely destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.
Sid ( Sidney Kent Burgess). and Mar ( his wife, Marion Gemelli Burgess) opened Sid-Mar's on Harrison Avenue in Lakeview in 1967. Five years later, they moved the restaurant to Bucktown. For decades, New Orleanians would head out to Sid-Mar's for a beer, boiled and fried seafood and a breezy perch on the patio that looked out on Lake Pontchartrain. Hurricane Katrina leveled the building and the land was eventually incorporated into the Corps Of Engineers' huge pumping station constructed at the mouth of the 17th. Street Canal.
This is a view of what remained of the Sid Mar Restaurant location following Katrina.
Located at 7400 Lakeshore Drive, just across the New Basin Canal from West End proper, was the Hong Kong, known for fine dining and Chinese cuisine.
Augie's Delago, operated by August Werner was one of the later additions on West End Park. It featured both restaurant and supper club type atmosphere.
The Club My-O-My featured female impersonators performing in a Las Vegas style review. Originally a fixture in the New Orleans French Quarter, the club was forced to move to Jefferson Parish because of laws governing such activities in New Orleans proper. The club operated at the lakefront from 1940 until 1972 when the building was finally destroyed in a famous over-night fire. It had previously been damaged by hurricanes and by a May 1948 fire that damaged most of the restaurants and clubs along the Jefferson Parish end of West End Park. The final chapter of the My-O-My's West End location occurred on the night of January 4th, 1972 when fire leveled not only that building, but also Kirsch's Restaurant, which was located to the right between the My-O-My building and Fitzgerald's Restaurant. Neither Fitzgerald's or Maggie and Smitty's was damaged although the fate of Fitzgerald's building was in question for a time.
Advertisement for one of the regular performers at the My-O-MY Club
West End's "Restaurant Row" showing temporary relocation of several businesses, including the My-O-My Club, following a 1948 gas line fire that damaged several of the over-water buildings.

Photos above and below courtesy of Mr. Frank A. Gagliano.

Later in the history of West End, there were several new restaurants and clubs built along the West End Park seawall near to the previous location of the old My-O-My Club which was destroyed by fire. Shown above and below are photographs of the Pontchartrain Surf Club and Neo Beach. Other additions in this same era included Augie's, which was later joined by Yaegers, The Dock, and others. In the early 1990s, the area suffered the effects of Hurricane Georges which, at the time, completely wiped out Fitzgerald's and damaged a number of other restaurants in that area

In the bend of Lakeshore Drive, next to the historic West End Lighthouse, Bart's Lighthouse Inn 8000 Lakeshore Drive, was a popular New Orleans hangout for many years. After the building was damaged in one of the hurricanes, it was rebuilt and acquired as a Joe's Crab Shack location. Following Katrina's damage, it again reopened by the Landry Family of Lafayette as Landry's Restaurant.
The original Bart's location was later taken over by the Landry Restaurant family of Lafayette, Louisiana when it became a Joe's Crab Shack location. Following Katrina, the building, which still stood, was repaired and reopened as Landry's Restaurant,
In researching information for this site, it was discovered, through records in the New Orleans Times Picayune, that a May 24, 1948 fire had destroyed several of the West End restaurants. Included in the damage report were the Club My-O-My, Brunings, Swanson's and others. Here is a copy of an article pertaining to that occurrence:

The photo above shows West End Park in the early 1920s, just after the land under the old boardwalk had been reclaimed as dry land. The remains of the original foot bridge were still in place at the time, and it obviously predates the 1930s reclamation of land that formed Lakeshore Drive and Lake Vista. By reclaiming this land, the Orleans Marina was created at the lower right, however the New Orleans Municipal Harbor and breakwater had not yet been constructed to the left of the park. The photo also predates the construction of the lagoon that was later built at the canal end of the park, and the landscaping does not seem to show Magnolia Grandiflora Grove, all of which were WPA 1930s projects.

The abandoned West End Park Fountain as photographed in the mid 1960s. The fountain was originally a hand-operated 100 horsepower attraction that was operated on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, weather permitting, by employees of the City. It was designed by Fred W. Darlington of the Electric Fountain Company Of America, and installed locally by contractor Walter Dilzell. Originally capable of remote control operation from a detached structure located near to the actual fountain basin, the water and lighting patterns could be made to follow along with music provided by live bands which played in the park. After many years of operation, the city allowed the hydro-pneumatic controls to fail from lack of proper maintenance and the fountain was then hand operated by attendants working in the pump room, which was located in the center structure shown above. By the early 1950s, the fountain failed completely, when the electrical power feed failed, and it was abandoned for decades. There was an effort to restore operation, although on a much smaller scale, in the 1970s, but it was short-lived and eventually failed completely when the mechanical room flooded in one of the city's heavy rain storms in the early 1980s. Today it has been turned into a planter. Below are night-time views of the fountain in operation from about 1949. The photos below are from the Historic New Orleans Collection. .
Nighttime operating views of the fountain. Powered by a one-hundred horsepower motor and pump system, the main plume was capable of rising seventy-five feet into the air, making it visible to the surrounding area and boats out on the lake. The engineering which permitted this was extremely advanced for 1923 when the fountain was installed, and the fountain was considered one of New Orleans most visited attractions.
The intricate plumbing that enabled the production of almost infinite water and light patterns, there by enabling it to perform interpretations of musical programs performed by orchestras and bands.
Originally, the fountain's operation was controlled from a remote shack located off to the side of the basin. A combination of electric and hydro-pneumatic devices allowed the remote control of all of the fountain's functions. Later, as the controls failed from lack of maintenance during the Great Depression, the control functions were moved to the machine room that was located under the fountain.
Having stood vacant and inoperative for decades, following the failure of the main electrical feeder in the early 1950s, it was resurrected, although on a much simpler scale in the 1970s. After several years of operation, the mechanical room flooded in a heavy New Orleans rain storm, and the fountain was again abandoned. It has now been turned into a garden, thereby preventing this beautiful example of 1920's engineering from ever operating again.
The WPA constructed bridge over the West End Park Lagoon as seen in 1970. In 1979, the lagoon was enlarged, and an earthen Amphitheater was constructed on the land to the west of the lagoon. Below as the lagoon as it appeared in 2011.
The lagoon as it appears today. (Photo by Kathleen DeMajo Adams)
One of the old WPA park shelter houses as they appeared before the 1979 upgrade
Over the years, West End Park was a showplace for flower designs by the New Orleans Parkway Commission. This bountiful rose garden was one of the WPA sponsored projects which the Commission added.
West End Park and surrounding West End Marina boat houses as they appeared in 1968. Note the classic cast iron light standard. This same design of street illumination was used throughout New Orleans neighborhoods from the 1930's until they were rendered obsolete by modern high-intensity lighting in the early 1960s.


The New Orleans Hammond Highway, which ran north through most of the United States, began at this location next to Bruning's Restaurant in West End. The road followed the approximate route of today's US Highway 51, which is now paralleled by Interstate 55. While remnants of the road are still visible when traveling through Bucktown, the great hurricane of 1947 destroyed most of the infrastructure in the area between West End and LaPlace, Louisiana. Although US Highway 51 was eventually restored beginning at LaPlace, the connection between LaPlace and Bucktown was never replaced.

The original wooden bridge from West End (beside Bruning's Restaurant) to the Bucktown area in Jefferson Parish. The bridge was removed in the 1980s and replaced with bridge for foot and bicycle traffic only. Today, this entire area has been ravaged by Katrina, and it now is occupied by the huge Corps Of Engineers drainage plant.
Above: The western end of the original Bucktown wooden bridge. The old bridge was actually the New Orleans terminus of the New Orleans Hammond Highway, otherwise known as US Highway 51. Built in the 1920s as a direct route between New Orleans and Tangipahoa Parish, the highway originally extended all the way into Chicago. Street signs in Bucktown still read "New Orleans Hammond Highway, but the path has been interrupted, for numerous reasons, over the years. Today, parts of Highway 51 still exist however Interstate 55, which was built parallel to US Hy-51, now carries most of the traffic to and from the North. The link of the New Orleans Hammond Highway was permanently interrupted when the 1947 hurricane destroyed most of the road between the Bucktown bridge and the Kenner-Laplace junction. where the original road turned from the West to the North. The remaining road bed through Bucktown and Jefferson Parish was again permanently damaged by Hurricane Hilda in 1964. With the not too distant completion of I-10 in sight, and it's proposed joining with I-55 at Laplace, LA, the original Bucktown link to Hy-51 was never replaced. Today, Bucktown officially ends at Bonnabel Blvd. in Metairie, La, and the remains of the New Orleans Hammond Highway come to an abrupt end at the intersection of Bonnabel. The photo below shows the damage to the fishing community of Bucktown, as was attributable to Hurricane Hilda in 1964. While there are no photos available, even more severe damage resulted to the entire West End-Bucktown area as a result of the unnamed 1947 storm, including the complete destruction of the original Fitzgerald Restaurant building.
Above: a 1964 photo of the original road that was the New Orleans Hammond Highway through Bucktown in Jefferson Parish. It was taken in the wake of Hurricane Hilda.
Because of the proximity to the Orleans and New Orleans Marinas, and the Southern Yacht Club, businesses along the New Basin Canal were geared primarily to boat and yacht sales and services. One of the major players in the yacht sales industry was Leo Walet's sales facility. The author of this site learned to sail through courses offered by Walet's Yacht Sales shown in the photo above. Walet's is the white building with the Texaco sign at the dock..
Above: A 1967 view of t he North sea wall bordering the New Orleans Yacht Club contrasted with that same view in 2011 below
Photo above by Kathleen DeMajo Adams
A 1939 view of the West End Marina contrasted against improvements made by the 1970s in photo below
(Photo courtesy of a viewer of our site)
Boats in the Marina ca: 1970
The Southern Yacht Club, second oldest yacht club in the nation, has been a fixture at West End from almost the inception. Over the course of history, the club's stately buildings have been visible above all other landmarks on the peninsula at the end of Lake Shore Drive. While the club was organized in 1840s on the Gulf Coast, New Orleans became the official headquarters in 1857. The first club house was built in 1879, and it was replaced in 1899 by a new and grander facility. That facility (pictured below) was enlarged in the 1920s. That same facility served the club through the late 1940s, and it was used by the military during World War II as well. Shortly after the War ended, the then termite damaged building was torn down, and a new modern concrete building was built. The 1949 building served the organization until it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In the years immediately following Katrina, another new building (shown below) was designed and built.
(Photo above courtesy of the LOUIS Digital Library)
(Photo below by Kathleen DeMajo Adams)

View of the New Basin Canal in the area just outside of West End going toward City Park Avenue and Metairie Road. This photo is from the files of my late uncle, William J. Bogan, who shot the photo in 1938. The original photo is now housed in the Historic Louisiana Photography Collection of the LOUIS Digital Library.

The lighthouse and Joe's Crab Shack Restaurant in the background. This photo was taken just months before Hurricane Katrina destroyed the area. Joe's was one of my favorite eateries.
This photograph, submitted by site visitor Craig Stearns, is one of the last photo memories of the bustling West End restaurant and nightspot area. The photo was shot in August of 2005, just days before the entire area was leveled by Hurricane Katrina.
The above photo indicates what remained of the over water "Restaurant Row" at the Jefferson Parish end of West End Park. Although some have suggested another attempt at rebuilding some of the restaurants, legal restrictions regarding over-water structures in this area, will probably preclude any future development.

A NOTE FROM THE CREATOR OF THIS SITE: I am continuing to seek photographs of West End which I can use on this site to supplement those which are in my private collection. I would especially like to obtain copies and permission to publish photos of the insides of the various restaurants from the 1940s - 1970s, as well as exterior or interior photos of any of the buildings or fixtures from the area. Please contact: jdemajo(at) (substitute @ for the word "at") if you have any photos to share. For many years, I have searched for photos of this great part of New Orleans history, so I am counting on you, the viewers of the site, who share my love for this unique part of our New Orleans past, to help me continue to build and improve the site.

If you would like to see additional pictures of the West End area from the Franck-Bertacci collection housed in the LOUIS digital library,
please visit this link:

This site is dedicated to my late parents, John R. and Edith B. DeMajo. Throughout their lives, West End was one of their favorite places to spend leisure time. Many thanks also to my daughter, Kathleen DeMajo Adams, who was able to return to New Orleans to capture the post-Katrina photographs shown on this site.
John DeMajo

Copyright © 2023, John DeMajo and the The Museum Of Yesterday, Chesterfield, VA