Argument: New Orleans must be restored for its cultural value

Issue Report: Rebuilding New Orleans


US President George W. Bush – “There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans.”[1]

Mark J. Clayton Associate Professor Department of Architecture Texas A&M University. “The view from the levee: a case for restoring New Orleans after the hurricanes of 2005”. 2005 – Contrary to popular perception, New Orleans is not a playground for college kids and Midwesterners who want to cut loose. New Orleans is one of the great ports of the world. Based on appreciation of historic value, cultural uniqueness, and simple compassion for those who have lost so much, the case for restoring New Orleans after the hurricanes of 2005 is compelling. However, the economic case that derives from the geography of Louisiana is incontrovertible.

[…]The history of the city is rich and colorful. It involves refugees from Canada, a great fire, Spanish conquerors, Thomas Jefferson, invading British, pirates, Andrew Jackson, the slave trade, architects and artists, riverboats, gunboats, occupying armies, corrupt politicians, subjugated populations, Irish, Italian, and German immigrants, Storyville, Louis Armstrong, great floods, world wars, space exploration, gambling, and Bourbon Street. It has been suggested that New Orleans is a great, collective work of art, as deserving of conservation as the Louvre or the British Museum (Kamin 2005). However, in the Philistine society of 21st century America, the incontrovertible argument to restore New Orleans rests on more prosaic justifications.

Former Oregon State Rep. Chris Beck (D-Portland). “Why should we bother rebuilding New Orleans?”. Oregonian. News 2007 – Friends often ask me why we should even consider rebuilding New Orleans, a city that’s below sea level, prone to hurricanes and susceptible to all that global warming might bring.

My response:

First, New Orleans is our Venice. Should the world abandon Venice?

Second, New Orleans is our man-made Grand Canyon, our Yellowstone and Yosemite. It is where jazz and the blues — our music — found their roots after slavery’s descendants developed a voice away from the plantation. Today, it is home to the largest collection of historic buildings in the country.

Anne Chalfant. “Feeling the loss of a unique city”. Seattle Times. 25 Sept. 2005 – as travelers, we have our own loss. There is no city that compared with New Orleans with its guaranteed “get happy” vibe.

Whether it was walking around on Bourbon Street listening to jazz with the now-eerily named hurricane drink in hand, or eating jambalaya, gumbo, po’boys or beignets, this city made you feel happy. Waiters and shopkeepers were charming and frequently funky, tourists were having an infectiously good time.

Now what will become of the French Quarter with its shuttered windows and rich history? And the voodoo tours with a stop at the cemetery where bodies are buried above ground because the water level was so high. And the Garden District with its charming, historic homes.

Most of all, what will become of the people? Will they even live here again?

It is heartbreaking to imagine that New Orleans — on the list of must-visit places — is off the list for now.

Every traveler who has visited is sending heartfelt thoughts and perhaps a little voodoo charm — coming backatcha, New Orleans.

Save Big – Detractors like Professor Kusky do not understand the importance of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to the United States both culturally and economically. New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the world and is truly in a class by itself. Its blend of Spanish, French, and African-American influences has it made a cultural gem in the American jewelry case of cities. Places like the French Quarter and the Garden District occupy a prominent place in American lore. New Orleans has an extremely rich culinary and musical tradition; it is the birthplace of jazz and early rhythm-and-blues.

“Prudential Financial Supports Rebuilding New Orleans’ Cultural Heritage”. CSR News. 16 Nov. 2005 – (CSRwire) Guided by a firm belief that the rich cultural heritage of New Orleans must be preserved and fostered in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) has joined the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Inc. (NOJO) as title sponsor of NOJO’s inaugural big band national tour, titled *New Orleans: Then and Now*. The tour, which was planned in 2004, is just one of the programs offered by NOJO, a non-profit, 501(c)3 jazz education and performance organization dedicated to being at the forefront of the cultural reaffirmation process currently underway in New Orleans.

Annika Mengisen. “New Orleans: Rebuilding a Cultural Economy”. The Idea Feed. 11 May 2007 – NEW ORLEANS — I hoped that New Orleans’ new slogan “Back in business” would hold true as the streets flooded with rainwater my first day there. Sure enough, by that evening the water receded, and the next day shone brightly as the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival kicked off, whose slogan proclaimed “Move your body and your soul!” Soul is something New Orleans has no shortage of. I saw it in the cab driver who pointed out the water marks left on buildings by devastating Hurricane Katrina, while he joked about sitting on his couch watching one of the walls of his home float away. A crowd stomped it out in time to the raucous sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and I heard it in the tone of Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu’s voice as he addressed the press with a zydeco band as backdrop. Besides renewing that spirit that has kept New Orleans afloat through hardship, this year’s Jazz Festival highlighted the most important force behind Louisiana’s economy: its culture. According to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, tourism in Louisiana (pre-Katrina) was a $9.4 billion industry in 2004. This year, the 38th annual Jazz and Heritage Festival held on April 27-29 and May 4-6 brought about 350,000 visitors and had an economic impact of about $300 million for the city of New Orleans. “What you see out here is a great economic engine,” says Landrieu. A study commissioned by Landrieu, released in February, showed that close to two-thirds of New Orleans’ musicians have returned since Katrina, and 160 performing arts venues have reopened. If Louisiana wants to get back in business, however, it has to support the backbone of New Orleans: the cultural economy.

Barbara Gelinas. “Rebuilding New Orleans is essential, if not practical”. The Shorthorn. 28 Aug. 2007 – A recent issue of National Geographic magazine questioned if New Orleans should be rebuilt. The article described many well-researched and logical reasons why it is impractical to rebuild the city.

While it may be impractical to rebuild New Orleans, we should do it anyway. The city is an important part of our cultural identity. Without New Orleans, America is not what it used to be.

What ties us together is our shared history and belief in the future. If we don’t rebuild New Orleans, aren’t we giving up a little of both?

It wasn’t practical to build New Orleans on a swamp. Nevertheless, the city stood there in various incarnations for more than 300 years.

The Crescent City is a link to much of our country’s early history. New Orleans is a blend of French and Spanish colonialism; Native American and African culture; and later American populism. It was Andrew Jackson’s defense of New Orleans in the War of 1812 that later helped him win the presidency.