The City Care Forgot – Spring 2011

Strip mall closed since Katrina.

This strip mall is on Gentilly near the Industrial Canal and has been closed since Katrina. The neighborhoods surrounding the mall are still empty.

This is our sixth Jazz Fest since that the confluence of human and natural events we now call Katrina. I recall the first year we were here and the relief that so much of what made New Orleans special was still standing. The second year, it was the shock that so many building still wore flood lines. While the worst of it seems over, it is apparent that much of the city will not be coming back.

The building boom after WWII increased the pace of the spread of neighborhoods into areas below sea level. Enabled by the government built levees and insurance as well as modern building techniques and roads, this created the neighborhoods that became the focal point over rebuilding. The picture here is taken on Gentilly Road just before the bridges that cross the Industrial Canal. South of here is zoned industrial with a focus on shipping (the canal connects to oceanic shipping) and north is post war middle class detached housing. While the neighborhoods are back. The shipping and jobs are gone and so is the shopping. What has returned to the area is fast food.

What is also still apparent is the need for infrastructure. I do not know what is in store for New Orlean’s future. But the old catch phrase, “The City that Care Forgot”, seems strangely prescient these days.

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