Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day in the VA Hospital Footprint

The significance of the day and the place is not lost on me.   It's a many-sided thing.

The neighborhood, as I've shown, is being eliminated to make way for a Veterans Affairs Hospital.  As I've said, I don't believe anyone out there is opposed to bringing veteran care back online in New Orleans.  We just question why it had to be reconstituted in the midst of a historic neighborhood while the former VA Hospital site sits largely vacant in the Central Business District.

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Among the victims of the site was Wally Thurman, a veteran, ironically enough, who was driven out of his home on S. Tonti Street - a home he had lived in for his entire life of over eighty years - after he returned post-Katrina.  He now lives in Metaire.

His family home lost its defining front porch early this morning:

Spring 2010

November 11, 2010

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But it's more complicated than that.  Because I know a number of those working for the contractors in site preparation roles are veterans as well.

And yesterday, down in the LSU Footprint, I saw Mr. Humble, a veteran who lives down on S. Roman, standing on a street corner watching as homes were dismantled less than a block away.  The story isn't over for his house.  And neither, in a way, is Wally's - what's left of it will be moved to a new location and rehabilitated into a house for someone.

So, thanks to all those veterans whose lives have been impacted - and whose stories weave into the chaotic, imperfect, and trying VA Hospital project.

1 comment:

E said...

I just want you to know how thankful I am for your commitment to documenting the destruction of this neighborhood and the relocation process. I look at your photographs every single day from here in NYC. I'll never forgive myself for the mistakes we made while campaigning for an alternative plan. That's especially true as it has become clearer that so many of the predictions about the worst-case scenario (VA demolishing Lower Mid-City, LSU standing pat for the better part of a decade without credible funding for their half of the project (or capitulating to a scaled back vision)) look pretty accurate. Just a terrible case of eminent domain abuse, terrible urban planning, and a substandard outcome for New Orleans at-large and for the individual residents booted out of their homes.

The photographs are incredible. Keep them coming. I was especially struck by the shot from yesterday or the day before that you compared to the overhead you found on flickr taken from the brewery.