Images of the Month Gallery
July 2000
On March 5, 1831, the New Orleans Canal & Banking Company was chartered by Act 18 of the Louisiana Legislature for the purpose of financing and digging the New Basin Canal. When this legendary task was completed in 1837, the bank lived on -- through financial crises and panics, the Civil War, the Great Depression, numerous mergers and name changes -- through fat times and thin times in the Crescent City. In 1933, after more than a century of operation, the Canal Bank closed its doors, but losses of its depositors and stockholders were repaid by the National Bank of Commerce, familiar in our own day as the First National Bank of Commerce. In 1998 FNBC was absorbed by the giant Bank One. In its current manifestation, then, the old bank can be said to survive still.

This month's gallery presents photographs of 15 of the Canal Bank's branch properties, offered for sale after the bank's liquidation in 1933. The photographs form a small "volume" (provenance unknown) found in the Louisiana Division's manuscripts collection (click HERE for a fuller description). Each photograph is pasted onto a single sheet of Canal Bank letterhead, which also includes a small map showing the footprint of the branch and giving the square number and bounding streets. The page also provides the dimensions, book and assessed values of the property.

As the manuscript's finding aid says, this brief record provides not only a fragmentary record of the bank's liquidation process, but also a clear view of fifteen examples of New Orleans commercial architecture. Happily, all but one of the buildings are still standing (although several are abandoned and another is currently vacant and advertised for lease), and their owners have found a wide variety of new uses for them that have allowed the old banks to survive in 21st century New Orleans.

Click on the images below to see a larger version and accompanying text.
And click HERE to revisit earlier Images of the Month Galleries.
  • Thanks to Greg Osborn and Jane Palmer for assistance in identifying the current uses of several of these buildings.

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6/29/2000 iw