The problem of flooding after heavy rains, a common occurrence in New Orleans, was solved by Albert Baldwin Wood’s invention of a heavy-duty pump that could raise great quantities of water and deposit it elsewhere. Today, there are 22 pumping stations and 13 underpass stations in greater New Orleans, with 90 miles of open canals and 90 miles of subsurface canals to carry and release surplus water into lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne. The system is capable of pumping 1.5 inches of rainwater in two hours. This pumping station, located on the neutral ground of N. Broad Street over the drainage canal, was the first in a series of brick stations whose rectangular shape and walls articulated with pilasters are evocative of classical temples. The station’s tall, narrow windows with keystones are covered by dark green iron shutters; rosettes decorate the entablature, and a ventilator runs along the ridge of the hipped roof. On one side, huge drainage pipes, painted green, emerge from the station’s lower wall and disappear underground. The station has recently been enlarged with a sympathetic extension.
Similarly designed pumping stations are located at the junction of S. Broad Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (doubled in size in 2000) and at Marconi Boulevard near Zachary Taylor Drive. Albert Baldwin Wood (1879–1956) continued to develop more efficient and powerful pumps throughout his life—notably, in 1913, the Wood screw pump, twelve feet in diameter, which was later used to drain the Zuider Zee in the Netherlands. By 1929, he had designed a pump fourteen feet in diameter; four of these were installed in the Metairie Pumping Station (Jefferson Parish) in the Metairie Relief Outfall at 17th Street. Benjamin Harrod (1837–1912), the station’s designer, also was the architect for many of New Orleans’s neighborhood fire stations.