Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Right...but not in Lower Mid-City

"Signposts in a Strange Land" features a number of New Orleans writers discussing the city in the wake of Katrina.  While they make some excellent points, the destruction of Lower Mid-City stands out as a key - and strangely unmentioned - exception to a number of the broad positive themes:

Joseph J. DeSalvo: New Orleans still has its architectural heritage while cities like Houston and Dallas have destroyed theirs in the name of modernization and progress. What those those cities have now is a complete lack of charming visual symbols of their history. They have only uninteresting concrete monuments to making money.

Sure, but even large swaths of a National Register Historic District here in New Orleans are being razed as we speak.

It has been the strength of these neighborhoods and the resilience of their people that have fueled a remarkable recovery in the wake of the worst man-made disaster in American history, Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans endured a terrible ordeal as a result of Katrina. Most cities would not have been able to cope as New Orleanians have coped because they do not possess the backbone of strong neighborhoods, each with its unique cultural identity and each with a special pride of neighborhood that creates strong bonds between the residents.

Great - but when the New Orleans City Council passes an ordinance that bars a neighborhood from even making repairs to homes as it struggles to recover from Katrina...it's difficult for organic recovery to take hold.  Government, in Lower Mid-City, created a self-fulfilling prophecy of neighborhood failure to serve its purposes.

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