2016 Sunset Report

OLG & DCRT Strategic Plan
2020-21 through 2024-25


Did you know?
Section 1
The Port of New Orleans in the Nineteenth Century
Section 2
Improvements and Consolidation:
The Founding of the Dock Board
Section 3
The Banana Trade
Section 4
J. Aron and Company:
The Role of the Coffee Importer
Section 5
New Orleans and Coffee

Latin American trade extended beyond coffee. Since the mid-nineteenth century, bananas and other tropical fruits have made up a significant portion of the New Orleans import trade. The United Fruit Company in particular has been an important purveyor of tropical commodities since the 1890s. Until they moved most of their operations to Mississippi in the mid-Sixties, the United Fruit Company unloaded the ships of their "Great White Fleet" just upriver from the coffee docks.

The Banana Trade
Just as the wharfage facilities and vessels have changed with the times, so too have the ways of unloading coffee and other goods. Throughout the nineteenth century, thousands of stevedores (workers who load or unload ships) labored along the waterfront. To unload coffee ships, they carried single 132-pound bags on their heads from the cargo hold to the warehouse. In the early twentieth century, mechanical conveyors and motor vehicles reduced the need for so much manpower on the docks.

Throughout the nineteenth and into the first part of the twentieth centuries, stevedores sorted coffee sacks according to company as they unloaded ships along the New Orleans waterfront. Each company had a corresponding flag to guide stevedores to certain areas of the dock or warehouse.

New Orleans banana Traders
Alfred R. Waud and D.G. Thompson

Bananas in Ship's Hold
c. 1935
Courtesy of Port of New Orleans Archives

Unloading by Flags
Harper's Weekly
March 9, 1867

Stevedores Unloading Coffee in Cargo Hold
Gift of the Association of Commerce