So much has been written about New Orleans. My brother sent a link to a Joel Garreau (Edge City) article in the Washington Post that basically says New Orleans is gone. Sure, the high ground of the Crescent City with its historic districts will still be there for tourists, but the low-lying poverty areas would likely be bulldozed. He also notes that the historic reasons for the city – the port – is no longer in the city. Garreau makes some good points and several people have expressed concern that the rebuilding of New Orleans will turn it into a theme park, or that rich people and a homeless Trent Lott will swipe up all the ocean view property at disaster prices and use FEMA and Halliburton to rebuild it and make a quick killing in real estate, leaving the former poor out of a new cleaner, safer, more boring New Orleans.
This is a worry, although the feds record on infrastructure rebuilding (here and abroad) since 2000 is one of underperformance, there is still the de facto land grab of evacuation, and the potential to draw even more tourists…but…
Remember what happened with Vegas in the early 90s? It decided to go family-friendly and reinvent and clean up its image. Didn’t last. The dirty glitzy Vegas came back within a decade – and they have hardly preserved anything besides that welcome sign. I don’t wanna get too spiritual but places do have a character that can’t be kicked away by disasters man-made or otherwise.
Garreau also mentioned how some disasters – Chicago’s 1871 fire and San Francisco’s 1906 quake and fire – actually made the place stronger and better than before, but claims that won’t happen to a dwindling New Orleans without the logic of a port – it will be left only with its tourism industry.
Yeah, but it is one of the oldest tourism industries in the country. Tourism and individuality and wierdness and borderline legality are part of New Orleans character. I don’t think Halliburton can rebuild that but I’m not so sure they can bury it.