Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Orleans was Headed for Self Destruction…

…even if Katrina hadn’t come along?

I have read two articles in the last couple of days that have implied just that.

In the T-P:
Like many cities, New Orleans has evolved at varying speeds, growing steadily into one of the most powerful and wealthy cities in America by the turn of the 20th century, eventually swelling to a metropolis of 630,000, and then beginning a slow decline in population and influence.

The way Tulane University School of Architecture Dean Reed Kroloff sees it, Hurricane Katrina sent the clock into overdrive, knocking New Orleans over the precipice toward which the city had long been headed.
And in the Philadelphia Inquirer (in the Arts and Entertainment section, no less):
Laughlin's photos, which curator Katherine Ware gathered together quickly from the museum's extensive collection of his work, are a timely reminder that decay has always been integral to New Orleans's identity. The city was already falling into ruin when he first trained his surreal eye on the place in the late 1930s. Katrina merely accentuated the condition.
Look, New Orleans wasn’t perfect. But it wasn’t going to blow up any time soon. There were and are too many good people here to let that happen.

If it was inevitable that New Orleans would fall into ruin, it is inevitable that New Orleans will rise from ruin. That’s a newspaper article I would like to read.


Mark said...

Yes, some areas were case studies in blight. But keep in mind, this city is three hundred years old. I've had bathtubs in NOLA older than any other thing standing where I live now in Fargo, ND. Of course some things fall into ruin. Citys are almost organic beings, some of the old slough's off while we struggle to maintain that look of youth were we think it important, and all the while the new keep coming. Our real problem has been not so much age, but a hard life. We're not regenerating fast enough. Katrina can either be the opportunity to reverse that trend (on so many levels), or it can be the elder's pneumonia that pushes us over the edge.

Polimom said...

It's a hard thing to contemplate - that the city was in dire straights before Katrina smacked the coast. Unfortunately, how NOLA is seen by its residents reminds me of the way perspectives tend to warp when seen every day. You kind of get used to things. It's just normal.

Or maybe it's more like how parents see kids. Somehow, whatever they seem like today - at this moment - is how they always were. We can look back if we make a conscious effort, but the "here and now" rules the mind.

I know I brought some folks down into the dumps with my post about the blight, roads, and general conditions on the West Bank after my New Year's trip home... but when I made the conscious effort to see, rather than moving through the familiar mental turf, the deterioration was striking - and it was wayyyy more than Katrina.

Like Markus, though, I agree that it could go either way. I'm hopeful... usually...

da po' boy said...

"Cities are almost organic beings."
The Gaia Hypothesis applied to cities. I like it.