Use Katrina To Make The Big Easy Better

The success of urban recovery depends most on how a city was doing before the disaster struck. New Orleans had been declining for years, according to Newsweek's Jonathan Alter.
September 6, 2005, 9am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"To survive, New Orleans must rewire its insouciance into seriousness. The city is at once enchanting and exasperating, romantic and fatalistic..."

"...The 'before' is critical. Experts in urban recovery say that the most important factor in how a city fares is not the extent of the damage but the pre-existing trend lines. Chicago was mostly destroyed by fire in 1871 and San Francisco by earthquake and fire in 1906. But both cities had been on the way up beforehand. So while the rubble still smoldered, entrepreneurs were already getting loans to rebuild. Almost overnight, San Francisco constructed 8,000 barrackslike 'refugee houses,' with six to eight families in each. Within seven years it had recovered enough to host a world's fair.

... Reiss, whose family came to New Orleans 150 years ago, has been brainstorming with a handful of business leaders to 'use this catastrophe as a once-in-an-eon opportunity to change the dynamic' that has crippled New Orleans. 'We have the opportunity to build communities from scratch that don't just warehouse people.' "

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Published on Monday, October 3, 2005 in Newsweek
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