"Almost as long as Algiers has been in existence, or, rather, ever since the shipping of the city of New Orleans has attained any proportions, Algiers has been the place where vessels were wont to go for docking and repairs, and each year the business has grown in proportion to the increase in the shipping of this port."

[William H. Seymour, The Story of Algiers, 1718-1896 (1896), p. 63]

This print, probably from the 1830s, shows the city from the Algiers shore, with the spires of St. Patrick's and the First Presbyterian Church and the dome of the St. Charles Hotel visible on the east bank. The scene emphasizes both the separateness of the two shores and the river's evolving history--visible are sailing ships and a flatboat, both soon to be replaced by the steamboats (one is visible at the left edge of the print) and steam-powered ocean vessels. And there are the people on shore, divided by the deep corridor of the river, gazing across to the distant shore.
[Louisiana Division Print Collection]
The Algiers side of the Mississippi has always been the Port's "support" side, home not to the miles of wharves and massive warehouses of the East Bank, but to the industries that make the Port run--the shipyards, dry docks, towing, salvage and dredging companies, railroad yards, and other industries devoted to servicing the ships that use the river. For the most part, it was the east side of the port that handled the cargo and conducted the business of buying, selling, and transporting river-borne goods. The west bank built and repaired ships, provided mooring and bunkering, and ran towboats that pushed the long lines of barges. The Algiers side was also home to industries that needed the river and prospered because of their location along its banks--notably the Southern Pacific Railroad plant, whose wharf stretched for nearly half a mile along the west bank and depended on the river to ship and receive the raw material it needed and the finished products it manufactured. The Algiers Naval Station, the U.S. Quarantine Station, the U.S. Immigration Station, ferry landings and the berth for the Dock Board's fire boats have all added at one time or another to the vitality of the Algiers side.

Algiers' shipbuilding tradition can be traced as far back as 1819, when Andre Seguin bought land at the bend of the river from pioneer Algiers landowner Barthelemy Duverj‚ in order to establish a shipyard. The first dry dock in Algiers was brought from Paducah, Kentucky in 1837 and operated by the New Orleans Floating Dry Dock Company. By 1842 Algiers' population included 12 ships carpenters, "three ship captains, two painters, two engineers, a joiner, a ship's blacksmith and two shipbuilders." [Fritz and Reeves, Algiers Point... (1983), p. 11]. By the end of the decade, there were eight boat building companies in the area. In modern times, the Johnson Iron Works (later Todd-Johnson Dry Docks) employed thousands, as does its current successor, Avondale Industries.

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iw/we 5/1998