During the 1930s, the WPA undertook a city-wide drainage program, which included, among other projects, replacing and extending subsurface drainage, covering open canals and replacing the old wood linings in previously covered canals with concrete box culverts, removing and replacing old water mains, and installing curbs and gutters along city streets.

Another of the WPA's projects was the construction at Robert E. Lee Boulevard of a concrete drainage siphon and two five-feet square chambers 13 feet below the bed of the Orleans Canal. Designed to handle storm water in the new Lake Vista subdivision, the system allowed excess flood water that gathered in the "regular" twelve-inch drain to spill over into the chambers and then to be carried under the Orleans Canal, into the lakefront drainage system and finally to the Orleans pumping station.

This photograph, taken on October 25, 1938, shows one of these two five feet square chambers and the drainage siphon beyond.

The New Orleans drainage system is so complex that it includes canals beneath canals!

From the WPA Photograph Collection. For further information on WPA drainage projects in New Orleans, link to our inventory of WPA photographs.