"At one edge of this city's future are the extravagant visions of its boosters. Awash in federal cash, the New Orleans they dream of will be an arts-infused mecca for youthful risk-takers, a boomtown where entrepreneurs can repair to cool French Quarter bars in ancient buildings after a hard day of deal making.
At the other extreme are the gloomy predictions of the pessimists. New Orleans will be Detroit, they say, a sickly urban wasteland abandoned by the middle class. A moldering core will be surrounded by miles of vacant houses, with wide-open neighborhoods roamed by drug dealers and other criminals. The new New Orleans will be merely a grim amplification of its present unpromising self, the pessimists say.
Somewhere between these unrealistic visions lies a glimpse of the city's real future a year after Hurricane Katrina, say many planners, demographers and others here who have been deeply involved in rebuilding. Like a half-completed drawing in a child's coloring book, the picture is starting to fill in. There are shadows and firmer outlines, a few promising, some of them menacing."