The rebirth of New Orleans does, however, require a leap into the unknown. It can't be meticulously planned. Preserve the old buildings. Rope off the lowlands. But then let imagination takes its course. Unfortunately, Mr. Nagin's Bring Back New Orleans group is loaded with central planners prescribing a dream city built around such highlights as light-rail transport, a "jazz district" and a neuroscience center. Typical is Michael Cowan, head of the city's Human Relations Commission, who warned that "the alternative to a 'good-enough' plan for the future of our city is free-market chaos, also known . . . as every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost."Great quote from someone who founded and edited the New Orleans weekly Figaro during the 1970s.
Actually, it was precisely this chaos that made New Orleans a great city in the first place. It was planning--specifically, the horrifying housing projects, largely destroyed in Katrina; the stultifying school system; the Superdome and other wasteful public-works projects--that held the city back.
The money quote is here:
When I was 24, I came to New Orleans to start a business and a family. I stayed for eight happy years. If I were 24 again, I would be packing my bags for New Orleans to be on the ground floor of a modern renaissance. Katrina was a tragedy, but its aftermath presents the most exciting urban opportunity since San Francisco in 1906. Pioneers, please apply.
Good stuff to think about. Go read the whole thing.