BellSouth/AT&T New Orleans "Main" at Baronne & Poydras Streets

I have read some of the posts to one or another of the Yahoo groups regarding the BellSouth/AT&T "Main" building in New Orleans, located at the riverside and uptown corner of Baronne and Poydras Streets.

Apparantly BellSouth's "Main" 5E and the DMS-100/200 Tandem are still operational. NWORLAMADS0 (5ESS) and NWORLAMA0GT (DMS-100/200 Tandem) are NOT listed at BellSouth's site of local central offices which are having problems.

And the AT&T 4ESS in the building (NWORLAMA04T, 060-T) is working, but quite overwhelmed with call volume. You will frequently get "All ccts busy" or "due to the hurricane in the area you are calling" recordings, with trailers of "zero-six-zero, tee" (060-T being the Network Switch Number of the New Orleans 4ESS).

All inbound traffic to my Cingular cellphone must pass thru New Orleans to the Cingular GSM switch here. You will frequently encounter such busy conditions via the LD carrier you might be calling on. But you CAN get thru to my cellphone as well.

While in "exile" (and last Wednesday, 07-September-2005 while leaving New Orleans), I was able to use my Cingular phone to place outbound calls (and receive inbound calls), and also use my AT&T calling card (and MCI Prepaid card) from the payphones at the Airport. I was able to call numbers in New Orleans/etc. as long as the central office was still working and also remember that the line to the house had to still be connected (the loop) as well.

As for "Main" -- the Main-1AESS (NWORLAMACG2) customers and their

504-52X (and other NXX) were supposedly finally "absorbed" into the Main-5ESS just two days before Katrina hit, on Saturday 27 August 2005.

This leaves only four 1AESS WECO/Lucent offices still in the New Orleans Metro area:

NWORLAARCG0 "Aurora", 504-39x, on the westbank, still up and running; NWORLAMCCG0 "Mid City", 504-48x (HUnter), presently not operational; NWORLALKCG0 "Lake", 504-28x (ATwood), presently not operational; NWORLACMCG0 "Chalmette", 504-27x (ARabi), presently not operational;

The "Lake" building at Prentiss and St.Anthony streets also has a

5E-Remote housed there (hosted by Main-5E), to supply ISDN to the University of New Orleans campus on the lakefront. 504-280 (never known as ATwood-0, but it COULD be referred to as such since the digits/letters do match!). I don't know how the Lake 5E-Remote fared though. I assume ultimately, BellSouth will expand the Lake 5E-remote into a "standalone" full fledged 5ESS office to replace the 1AESS at Lake.

With the exception of low-lying areas further down the river from the metro area, NOTHING on the westbank of the New Orleans metro area lost central office dialtone. Again, some people might have lost their loop to downed lines though ...

Overall, the westbank of New Orleans fared well.

BellSouth's "Interconnection" website indicates things about downed switches:

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and then click away from there.

As for "Main"...

In the 2L-4N days they were as follows, with the 2L-5N name as of 1957:

CAnal which became JAckson-2 MAgnolia which became JAckson-3 (the original "Main" manual office name) TUlane which became JAckson-4 RAymond which became JAckson-5 EXpress which became JAckson-9

In the 2L-4N days, EVERY OFFICE NAME had to have DIRECT TRUNKS WITH.. every other local office name. There was NO "blocking" of names/digits. Everything in New Orleans regarding exchange names as a "hodge-podge", almost as if we were a "Panel" or #1-Crossbar city such as the huge urban areas of the midwest or northeast. But no, we were always Step-by-Step. Only thing was that every office-name had to trunk directly to every other office name.

During the later 1950s, we cutover from 2L-4N to 2L-5N (in preparation for full DDD), one office building at a time. All office names were replaced by a new common office name followed by a third new digit (see above for how the offices names in "Main" were consolidated into "JAckson-X" office codes).

More "Main" trivia ... In 1970/71 or so, the first #1ESS was added into the business district at "Main", initially the 504-58x codes (NWORLAMACG0).

In the later 1970s, another ESS (a 1AESS) was added to "Main", mostly the 504-56x codes (NWORLAMACG1).

In the very late 1970s, the Main SXS (NWORLAMA52A) was replaced with yet another ESS (another 1AESS), the NWORLAMACG2 switch which was recently absorbed into the Main 5E.

In 1985, the 1970/71 Main 1ESS (504-58x) was absorbed into the mid/late 1970s Main 1AESS (504-56x, -CG1) switch. This was ultimately fully replaced with the Main 5ESS (NWORLAMADS0) circa 1989-91 timeframe. But it wasn't until just two weeks ago when the remaining

1AESS in Main (the third 1/1A type ESS to be hosed there in the very late 1970s), but also the ORIGINAL SXS office there, was finally absorbed into the already existing digital 5ESS.

NOTE ... there are some ideosynchosies and "quirks" regarding some specific few 504-5NX codes as to which switch they were on at which time, mainly the 504-JA.5 code (originally RAymond) and the (FTS)

504-589 code. These two codes had been flipped around at times between different Main switches during the 1970s and 80s. I don't remember the specific details at the moment though.

Now for some more trivia re Main at New Orleans...

In Spring 1983 during our annual "once in a century" floods from heavy rains, Metro area got flooded out as usual. Electric power was knocked out in some parts of the area as expected.

South Central Bell and its pre-divestiture parent AT&T (remember this was still 1983) lost NOPSI (now Entergy) commercial power at Main.

The backup generators were in the basement which got flooded out. They tried to fire up the backup generators but were unsuccessful. WECO batteries were used to power the three local 1/1AESS end offices and possibly the SCB/ATT-LL 4ESS switch as well (and any other ESS tandems associated with the 1AESS end offices). The 4ESS was only two years old, replacing the early 1950s era 4A XB toll machine and the "Broadmoor" XB-Tandem machine only back in 1981.

Battery power did provide local dialtone to the Central Business District, as well as for tandem'd local calls, and toll into/out-of New Orleans, but eventually the batteries began to run out.

There was a period of 12 to 24 hours when New Orleans was "cut off" from the rest of the world. The local TV and radio stations which still had power but hadn't yet cutover to their own satellite reception of CBS/NBC/Mutual/ ABC/etc. were unable to get network radio and TV programming.

I understand that a non-demoninational church had a sat-dish used to pick up sat-fed Christian programming was being used by the media to uplink news reports of the flooding in New Orleans in Spring 1983, to be fed to the major US radio/TV networks/national media.

Eventually, SCBell/AT&T got power back to the switches housed at Main, and got the batteries re-charged. I tend to think that they re-worked central office "power" and backup since then for "Main", since it "appears" that Main is working, both BellSouth end offices/tandems, and AT&T 4ESS, though overwhelmed, at this time with the Katrina aftermath.

But many BellSouth LOCAL offices do seem to still be down.

One day last week, BellSouth seems to have put a new generic (male voice) recording, most likely played from the Main DMS-100/200 tandem, for inbound calls to numbers on those out of service local offices:

"Due to intense storm damage, the number you are calling may not be available for an extended period of time". This recording plays only once and then drops.

Mark J. Cuccia markjcuccia at yahoo dot com

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And so, with the four messages in this cluster, those of you who had expressed concern about Mark Cuccia now know his fate: alive and well. These were presented as a follow up to the three or four messages of inquiry about him which ran in the Digest last week. PAT]
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Mark J. Cuccia
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