During the 1830’s
another canal was dug to connect New Orleans at the river to the lake. The New Basin Canal (formally known as the New Orleans
Navigation Canal) allowed smooth sailing from the city to West End (also known as Lake End) on the western edge of the city.
Irish immigrants were employed as laborers in digging this waterway through mosquito infested swamps where they were susceptible
to yellow fever, malaria, and cholera. Thousands of laborers died while toiling in the canal, many of them having been buried
where they fell. A monument to them now stands on the neutral ground between West End and Pontchartrain Boulevards near the
lake. It reads, “In memory of the Irish immigrants who dug the New Basin Canal 1832-1838 this Celtic Cross carved in
Ireland has been erected by the Irish Cultural Society of New Orleans”.
A shell road
was built along the city side of the New Basin Canal allowing carriages and street cars to transport city dwellers to the
lakefront where they would find Mannessier’s Pavilion, the West End Hotel, the Capitol Hotel, Lecourt’s Hotel,
restaurants, bathhouses, and the Southern Yacht Club. West End, also known as New Lake End provided New Orleanians with yet
another source of lakefront entertainment and relaxation.
In 1869 the New Orleans & Metairie Railroad
Company extended its Canal Street track from the cemeteries to West End. Between 1871 and 1880 land was reclaimed at the end
of the New Basin Canal. By the late 1800’s the area was well developed and included a park and gardens, a bandstand,
and amusement rides. The first movie in New Orleans was shown on an outdoor screen on the lakefront. In 1896 Allen B. Blakemore,
an electrical engineer for the New Orleans City and Lake Railroad used the current from the street car line to power a vitascope
Bucktown, the area of Metairie bordering the western boundary of New Orleans, developed
during the late 1800’s and remained a rustic fishing village well into the 20th century. By the late 1800’s camps
lined the 17th St. Canal while the small community boasted a school, a jail, stores, saloons, gambling houses, club houses,
dance halls, and many restaurants. The camps, including the popular Sid-Mars Restaurant, still remained until Hurricane Katrina
washed them away.