Abandoned last century power giant: Market Street Power Plant, New Orleans

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Market Street Power Plant is a fine example of early modernism factory architecture. Its massive great engines must have swallowed an uncountable amount of coal and gulped down more water than all of the citizens of New Orleans together.

Also known as New Orleans Railway and Light Company and Market Street Generating Station, this beautiful steel giant was built at the turn of the century in 1905 and started producing electricity the same year. Now it’s been decaying for 44 years as it was closed since 1973.

The location was a prime one when the power plant was built, just on the bank of the Mississippi River. Its waters were used for cooling the great engines and motors of the power plant. This was back when power plants and all factories, in general, were very hostile and dangerous environments.

Gretna, Louisiana: view across Mississippi to New Orleans, with Superdome and the old NOPSI Power Plant – Author: Infrogmation of New Orleans – CC BY 2.5

Unbearable heat and steam was the bread and butter, hot surfaces all around and many injuries happening regularly. However, this massive plant supplied the city of New Orleans with electricity for 68 years straight.

Old New Orleans Public Service Power Plant, New Orleans – Author: Infrogmation of New Orleans – CC BY-SA 3.0

The plant has changed owners two times. First, in 2007, Entergy New Orleans sold the power plant property for $10 million to Market Street Properties LLC. The new owners didn’t make any moves besides plans of deconstruction of the property for real estate, as it’s in a good location and with great potential value. 

Market Street Power Plant, New Orleans, rusty machinery and water pumps – Author: The Wandering God / Cody Allison – CC BY 2.0

When they finally gave up on the idea, they sold the power plant and it’s surrounding property to Joe Jaeger, a known developer who owns several downtown New Orleans commercial real estates already. His portfolio of big New Orleans buildings in the area includes the 45 story Plaza Tower (which is also vacant for now) and the former Jung Hotel, which he purchased in early 2007 and is now going under renovation that will produce hotel rooms, apartments, retail spaces and great parking. Seems like this guy has big plans for the whole Mississippi bank area and is just waiting for the prime time to make them real.

Market Street Power Plant, New Orleans – Author: The Wandering God / Cody Allison – CC BY 2.0

The actual proposal plan for the 47 acres that Joe Jaeger now owns include a 1,200 room hotel as the centerfold of the development. 

Inside the Market Street Power Plant, New Orleans – Author: The Wandering God / Cody Allison – CC BY 2.0

Add to the surroundings of the hotel another 1,400 residential units, commercial stores, retail spaces, restaurants, and many entertainment venues with included tourist attractions based on the history and location of this iconic building.

New Orleans Market Street Power Plant interior view – Author: The Wandering God / Cody Allison – CC BY 2.0

About his plans for the Market Street Power Plant, asked by a journalist he stated that “It’s an iconic property that will be an important part of what’s planned for the whole riverfront“. The plans for the riverfront and Market Street are not in any way, so far, limited by time as there is still no date set for the completion of any stage of the Trade District of New Orleans by the municipality government.

New Orleans Market Street Power Plant view from the back – Author: Infrogmation of New Orleans – CC BY-SA 3.0

Gorgeous as it is, the plant has been rightly used for a movie location in two TV series so far. First, “The Magicians” shot part of their first episode “Unauthorized Magic” inside the plant. The scene where Pete leads Julia to learn how to do magic. Secondly, “Into the Badlands” TV show used this power plant for its second episode “Fist Like a Bullet”. The Old Turbine Station where Sunny and Ryder investigate is this old power plant.