If you read this blog regularly, you know that I can't ever go too long without doing a Historic Photo article. This is a view of the waterfront at New Orleans, Louisiana, at the foot of Canal Street looking down the Mississippi River. It’s not entirely certain when this picture was taken, but the copyright date (long expired) by Detroit Photographic Company is 1900 and it certainly looks to be about that time. The riverboat is a dead giveaway as to where we are. I’m not sure what the sacks that are stacked up in the middle ground contain–rice, perhaps?–but my guess is that the barrels in the foreground contain molasses. Contrary to what you might assume from a Southern port at this time, I don’t see obvious evidence of cotton being traded here. Cotton was typically shipped in large wrapped bales that look different than this.
Note that most of the people you see in this shot–stevedores, probably–are African-Americans. Louisiana, like most states of the Old South, was an economy that still resembled slavery in many ways even in 1900, thanks to the Jim Crow laws that sought to reimpose slavery in everything but name.