"Before New Orleans, the worst urban disaster in the United States occurred in San Francisco, when the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906, destroyed 28,000 buildings and killed upward of 3,000 people.
...Civic leaders in 1904 hired [fabled Chicago architect Daniel Burnham] to draw up a plan that included new boulevards along classical lines. Supporters saw the earthquake as a "magnificent opportunity for beautifying San Francisco," in the words of former Mayor James Phelan. But business interests recoiled at condemning private land to build new streets.
...Unlike London in 1666 or San Francisco in 1906, New Orleans is not a city on the rise: The population has shrunk by nearly 150,000 people since 1960, and 28 percent of its residents live below the poverty line, more than twice the national average."