Thursday, January 12, 2006

New Orleans Rebuilds

Michael Glassman, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and host of pens an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal.
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."

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.
Great quote from someone who founded and edited the New Orleans weekly Figaro during the 1970s.

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.


oyster said...

I agree that this is an unprecedented opportunity to be part of urban renewal.

I also agree that not everything can be meticulously planned. However, priorities must be set.

Kinch said...

Minor correction. The author's name is James K. Glassman, not Michael.

Pawpaw said...

Thanks, Kinch.

I stand corrected.

Kelly(Mom of 6) said...

I wish I was young and in a position to be in New Orleans at this very moment. What an opportunity there is to witness the rebirth of a city on the ground. Katrina was horrible, but look at the tremendous positive change that is going to come to New Orleans as a result...incredible to think about.