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Interview date: 3.23.15


John Magill is curator and historian at The Historic New Orleans Collection. He is a regular contributor to these podcasts, sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of our city’s unique history. In this podcast, John tells us all about the development of the New Orleans riverfront and the Port of New Orleans, two vital parts of our city’s economy. He points out that before the advent of steamboats, traders floated goods down river by barge, and the barges were oftentimes sold right along with the goods they carried. The barges did not go to waste; barge wood was sometimes used to construct homes. Even today, some old New Orleans homes still feature their original barge boards. As John notes, "There were no wharfs or docks at that time…they just unloaded their goods on the levee.” The construction of covered docks that began in 1896 catapulted New Orleans' port traffic, and by the early 1900s, rail had become an important part of shipping in New Orleans. According to John, "A lot of the riverfront land was being turned over to the railroads.” Join us as John traces the intriguing origins of shipping in New Orleans.


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