Thursday, January 05, 2006

"The Mirage that Is Derailing the Rebuilding of New Orleans"

Highly recommended article on the history of New Orleans and it's struggle with nature, from the beginnings. Written by a historian who knows what he's talking about. This is a fine piece to bring anyone up to speed on the real problems confronting the recovery.
It has been a losing battle. And yet, though it sounds particularly odd following Hurricane Katrina, the city's efforts have been spurred by the notion that nature favors it. From New Orleans' founding near the mouth of the Mississippi in 1718, the city has banked on geography to sweep it to greatness. Long before technologies circumvented the vagaries of geography, boosters claimed the city would reign over a commercial empire. But the local environs rarely cooperated with imperial visions. The lake and river loom above the city. Much of New Orleans lies below sea level, atop a high water table; there's no natural drainage. And pestilence thrives in the steamy delta. Scholars call this the disjuncture between "site"--the actual real estate a city occupies--and "situation"--an urban area's relative advantages as compared with other places. New Orleans, with access to the river and the gulf, enjoys a near-perfect situation. But it has an equally horrid site.

No comments: