Argument: Cities are not forever; New Orleans is no exception

Issue Report: Rebuilding New Orleans


Klaus Jacob. “Time for a Tough Question: Why Rebuild?”. Washington Post. 6 Sept. 2005 – Many ancient coastal cities of great fame have disappeared or are now shells of their former grandeur. Parts of ancient Alexandria suffered from the subsidence of the Nile delta, and earthquakes and tsunamis toppled the city’s famed lighthouse, one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”

It is time that quantitative, science-based risk assessment became a cornerstone of urban and coastal land-use planning to prevent such disasters from happening again. Politicians and others must not make hollow promises for a future, safe New Orleans. Ten feet below sea level and sinking is not safe. It is time to constructively deconstruct, not destructively reconstruct.

Joan Hough. “The Case Against Rebuilding New Orleans”. Georgia Heritage Council. – We may all mourn the loss of a city, which celebrated life so beautifully with music, food, liquor and parades, but we should realize that the story of the loss of a great city is not a new story. The history of the world is filled with tales of cities sinking into water, mud, sand, and crevices or being covered by hot lava. Down through the ages, cities have been destroyed and new cities have sprung up elsewhere. It has only recently been learned that the ancient cities of Canopus and Herakleion sank into 25 feet of water in Abu Qir Bay due to Nile flooding.

Some of present day China’s major cities are sinking due to the withdrawal of water from below the surface of the ground and the presence of too many high rise buildings in a given area. Buildings are beginning to topple.

New Orleans is but another page in the book of history. Its loss was as inevitable as the rising and setting of our sun. Rebuilding it will be to spend our fortune on a city sinking quickly into sand and water. We should spend our money to build concrete cities elsewhere, designed to last for a multitude of future generations, not build in New Orleans “bowl” just for the two or less than two generations that will be able to enjoy living in a rebuilt New Orleans.

“The Case Against Rebuilding New Orleans”. The Unplanning Journal. 8 Sept. 2005 – Nothing lasts for ever and everything on this planet from amoebas to zebras will succumb in the end. So too will everything that we humans create and build. Sooner or later that means whole settlements will fail and be destroyed. It has happened time and time again throughout history, for a variety of reasons. The sooner that we all understand this, the better we are for it.

Dennis Hastert was right to question the future of New Orleans. It was just for the wrong reasons. Better to conserve what little resources we have left to improve or preserve what still works elsewhere. As hard as it is to believe, New Orleans’ time has come and gone.