During World War II, Andrew Higgins directed the development and construction of Higgins boats in New Orleans. President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared these landing craft crucial to the Allied victory in World War II. In the 1950s, New Orleans experienced significant improvements, at least on a physical level. The railroad industry was consolidated under Mayor DeLesseps S. Morrison, and a new rail terminal was built. Streets were widened, railroad crossings were spanned with overpasses, and an 11-story City Hall was built as part of a civic center. The petrochemical industry moved to New Orleans in the 1950s, followed by oil refineries in the 1970s.
During the 1950s, suburbs also experienced rapid growth. Only in the post-World War II period, a truly metropolitan New Orleans develop, encompassing the center city and surrounding suburbs. In 1965, the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal (“MR GO,” pronounced mister go) opened, connecting the Intracoastal Waterway with the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Betsy hit the city in September 1965. A television station’s windows were blown out as it broadcast.