On this day in 1929, more than 1,000 streetcar operators in New Orleans who were members of the Amalgamated Association of Electric Street Railway Employees, Division 194, began a strike for better pay and working conditions. When strikebreakers were brought in from New York, the streetcar operators protested by burning a streetcar downtown. Eventually, the strike ended after four months. Arguably the most important development to come out of this period, however, is said to have occurred at this humble building at 1027 Touro St. Now a tattoo parlor, it was once home to Martin’s Coffee Shop and Restaurant. During the strike, owners Bennie and Clovis Martin ardently supported the striking workers. In solidarity, they began serving large sandwiches on French bread for free to those on strike. Supposedly, when a worker would come in to order, the Martins would exclaim, “there goes another poor boy!” Thus, the Po-Boy sandwich that New Orleans is so famous for was born (although there are competing claims to this being the first use of the term.). The Martin Brothers shop later moved to Chef Menteur Highway, where it closed in 1972.
Historic photograph of the Martin Brothers Restaurant taken from the archive of the Times-Picayune