Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot

Hi Julia,

A couple of years ago, I was at an estate sale on the north shore and bought a framed poster from the World’s Fair in 1984. The poster features a man working on the Mississippi River and he is wearing an Army Corps of Engineers hardhat. The Army Corps of Engineers symbol is also on the bottom of the poster with the title, “The River: Managing the Might of the Mississippi” with the dates of the Louisiana World Exposition underneath the title.

When I bought the poster, I asked the person running the sale if she knew anything about it. She thought that the man who had lived in the house previously had worked for the Army Corps of Engineers, but she couldn’t tell me for sure and had no other information. I remember going to the 1984 World’s Fair as a child, but I don’t remember this exhibit. Would you or Poydras be able to tell me anything about the exhibit advertised in the poster or about the poster itself? I have always been curious. Thank you, Michelle Fortier (Chalmette, LA)

Your poster was a souvenir commemorating “The River: Managing the Might of the Mississippi.”  Another was a 28-page children’s coloring book recalling the Corps’ elaborate exhibit about the Corps’ history and the technology and engineering involved in managing the Mississippi River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $1.9 million to convert the retired steam dustpan dredge “Kennedy” into a floating multimedia exhibit center and transport it from St. Louis to the 1984 Lousiana World Exposition. A dustpan dredge works like a vacuum cleaner. A broad suction head, about as wide as the vessel’s hull, is lowered from rear of the dredge and sucks sediment from the river bottom, helping to clear navigation channels. During a career lasting from 1932 to 1979, the Kennedy worked upriver and maintained a 300-mile section of the Mississippi River shared by the states of Missouri and Illinois. 

Ironically, during the Kennedy’s stay, seasonal changes in the river level made it necessary to dredge the area where the floating exhibit was moored. Consequently, the Kennedy was relocated 300 yards downstream. After the fair, the Kennedy was decommissioned and scrapped but part of her lives on as the engine in the modern strenwheel steamboat “American Queen.”

Dear Julia and Poydras,

Do you know exactly when Mahogany Hall was demolished? The grand Basin Street mansion remained standing longer than some other Storyville landmarks but was gone long before I was born. Joan Reichart (Mandeville, LA)

Mahogany Hall, Lulu White’s elaborately furnished bordello located at 235 North Basin St., was torn down in December 1949. The National Lumber & Demolishing Company, located at 1000 South Claiborne Ave. and 5003 Jefferson Hwy., handled the demolition and salvage.

Dear Poydras,

My late grandfather was a great lover of naval history. According to him, Old Ironsides visited the city when he was a little boy, during the Great Depression but he didn’t get to go aboard. Do you know if that really happened? Martyn Hull (Ocean Springs, MS)

The frigate USS Constitution, popularly nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” visited New Orleans during the 1932 Carnival season. The U.S. Navy’s oldest commissioned ship arrived in New Orleans on January 27 and berthed at the Toulouse Street Wharf.  The USS Constitution left the city on February 12, three days after Mardi Gras.  During its New Orleans stay, the 18th century vessel welcomed aboard an estimated 200,000 visitors.

The Navy still operates the vessel, now moored in Boston at the Boston National Historical Park. It is operated as a historic site in cooperation with the National Park Service.


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