In the fall of 1940, the Navy began improving its primary flight training facilities by building up its system of Naval Reserve air bases, including New Orleans. The lakefront base housed a steel hangar, barracks for 100 cadets, a small assembly and repair shop, storage for 50,000 gallons of fuel, and accommodations for 8,100 personnel.
In November 1942, the New Orleans installation was designated a Naval Air Station (NAS) and assumed the role of a primary training base for student naval aviators. By the end of 1943, the primary mission of the base shifted to the training of flight instructors for the duration of the war.
By July of 1946, the air station's mission changed again to training Navy and Marine Corps Air Reservists. In the late 1940s, the lakefront site was deemed inadequate due to urban growth in the area that made future jet operations unfeasible. A new site was located 15 miles south of the business center of New Orleans and across the Mississippi River in Placquemines Parish.
The Orleans Parish Levee Board acquired the site when the United States Navy abandoned the air station in late 1957. A quick renovation of barracks, service clubs, and other existing facilities made it possible to begin classes at Louisiana State University at New Orleans (LSUNO) in September 1958, a year ahead of the original schedule.
In September 1969, enrollment exceeded 10,000, making LSUNO the second-largest university in Louisiana. In February 1974, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved a name change, and LSUNO became the University of New Orleans. The new name more accurately defined the institution as the metropolitan campus of the LSU System. UNO joined the University of Louisiana system in 2012.