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Blakeview: FDR visits New Orleans

The president toured Higgins boat manufacturers on Sept. 29, 1942

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This week we mark a moment in New Orleans history that also is important in World War II history. It marks the visit 75 years ago this week of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came to New Orleans to meet Andrew Jackson Higgins. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower later called Higgins "the man who won the war for us." On Sept. 29, 1942, Roosevelt toured the Higgins Industries plant located on City Park Avenue near what then was Delgado Trade School. His trip was part of a cross-country tour of the nation's defense plants less than a year after the U.S. entered World War II. FDR toured the Higgins plant in a convertible. Members of the Higgins Military Band played "Hail to the Chief," "Anchors Aweigh" and the "Higgins Victory March" for the president. Afterwards, reporters said, "Higgins stood up in the presidential car and roared, 'All right, everybody. For the world's greatest man, three cheers!' He (Higgins) ... then urged the employees to 'show how fast you can get back to work.'" Higgins Industries built more than 29,000 military vessels for use in World War II. That includes the famed Higgins boat, the landing craft used in the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.

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