After the Disaster: Revising Neighborhood Identity in Post-Katrina New Orleans

By Andrew Buss.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Like other cities that have experienced disaster, New Orleans is now in the process of creating a new identity, an identity that at times may not be welcomed by residents and even outsiders who believe that New Orleans will never be the same. At risk are the traditional demographics, culture, architecture, and neighborhoods that made the city unique in many ways both for residents and tourists. But new identities are beginning to appear in New Orleans and its traditional neighborhoods, and one example is the re-emerging Lower Ninth Ward, well-remembered for media coverage documenting its almost complete destruction as a result of a levee breach during Hurricane Katrina. Once written off as an unsalvageable, undesirable neighborhood that should be converted to parkland, the Lower Ninth Ward is beginning to repopulate and re-establish its identity, albeit a new identity, as a result of the Make It Right New Orleans initiative. The heart of the neighborhood’s regeneration, directly proximate to the point of the levee breach, dramatically differs in architectural style from the original look and feel of the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, and in some ways the regeneration process parallels that of other once destroyed cities such as Berlin. This paper will examine the re-emergence of a traditional New Orleans neighborhood and situate its recovery within a historical, international context in order to study urban redevelopment and re-identification after a disaster.

Keywords: Urban Redevelopment, Neighborhood Identity, Neighborhood Planning, Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.47-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.557MB).

Andrew Buss

Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Andrew Buss is the Director of Public Programs for the Division of Technology in the City of Philadelphia. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University, and currently teaches a client-based course called Community Development Workshop as well as a course about New Orleans which inspired this research. Andrew earned his M.A. from Temple University in Geography and his B.A. from Macalester College in Biology.