I don't know about you, but I had no idea New Orleans had an aerial transit system at one time.  Sadly it was removed 38 years ago, which is probably why most of us didn't know it existed. But how cool would it be if it was still there? Not only would it provide transportation from one side of the Mississippi to another, but it would also be a crazy-cool ride.

The Gondola skylift also called the MART (Mississippi Aerial River Transit), was built as a fair attraction for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. It would carry people from the fair site on the East of the Mississippi Bank to the West Bank of Algiers. Before 1984, residents of Algiers only traveled to downtown NOLA by ferry (one of the oldest in the nation).

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The MART station had 53 Gondola teapot-shaped cars that carried six passengers at a time, roundtrip, for $3.50. When the fair closed in November 1984, the aerial system became a part of the New Orleans mass transit system. The cars ran on cables that spanned 2,500 across the Mississippi and suspended 320 feet in the air.

Mardi Gras float empire founder Mr. Mardi GrasAlgerian Blaine Kernand his partner architect,  August Perez IIIwere behind the Gondola project. The legendary New Orleans natives formed MART, Inc. in the 60s, decades before they had the Gondola built for the World's Fair.

So what happened to it? I'll let New Orleans urban explorer, Noladeej explain:

Is that not fascinating, or what? I wish it were still there. I hate that enough people didn't see the MART as an excellent tourist attraction for the city. Not to mention another essential form of transportation to and from Algiers. I guess it's one of those situations where you never know what you had until it's gone.

Next time you're in New Orleans, stop by to see the MART Gondola car #26 in front of Nesbits Market at 925 Poeyfarre St. It's pretty cool!

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