How to Rebuild New Orleans: start with a trip to Denver - Slate magazine
One year after Katrina, New Orleans is still behind the eight ball when it comes to rebuilding. However, with the help of a Rockefeller grant, the Great New Orleans Foundation is heading a neighborhood-scale rebuilding effort that employs several new urbanist architects. In the recent posting in Slate online magazine, Rybczynski looks to a major new urbanist project in Denver as a reference point for New Orleans’ rebuilding possibilities. Many questions remain as to how an old city like New Orleans will balance its immediate needs while protecting its distinctive character.
How To Rebuild New Orleans: start with a trip to Denver
By Witold Rybczynski
Posted Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006, at 11:42 AM ET
It’s been almost a year since Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans flood. A year after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, San Franciscans had moved out of emergency camps in parks and playgrounds and were rebuilding their homes. Progress in New Orleans has been slower. It’s been estimated that as much as two-thirds of the population has not returned. The cleanup is still incomplete, and attempts at developing a comprehensive master plan have pretty much fallen apart.
In July, the city put the rebuilding in the hands of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, a local charity. Abandoning the idea of a citywide visionary plan, the foundation will focus its reconstructive efforts at the neighborhood level. Whether or not this strategy will succeed—and in the current state of New Orleans, who knows?—it is not unreasonable. Levees and flood control infrastructure must be built by public agencies, but urban neighborhoods, as Jane Jacobs pointed out long ago, work best when created piecemeal by private households and entrepreneurs. So, a decentralized approach is definitely a good idea.
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