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This one’s for City Wild 2014 alums, and Ely:

Last week saw me in New Orleans to present at EDRA 45, so my dear husband and I took the opportunity to drive by the Make It Right houses in the Lower Ninth Ward. Here’s what I learned that we didn’t get from the readings in class:

  • The houses aren’t nearly as odd as they seemed in the readings, because there are a lot of them, far more than what I thought, blocks and blocks. They form their own context.
  • They also don’t seem as odd because there’s so little around them. The Lower Ninth has a vacancy rate like the neighborhoods we looked at in Detroit. In fact, in a presentation at the conference with aerial photos of the Lower Ninth, the person next to me said, “Looks like Detroit.”
  • Some of the MIR houses are indeed in what seems to be the lowest spot in this notoriously low elevation neighborhood – they line the street closest to the levee – MIR houses, street, tall levee. It was mighty uncomfortable driving next to that levee…
  • The comments about the lack of infrastructure around the houses seems to be mostly about the really rough condition of the roads, potholes all the more impressive considering it doesn’t freeze there. 
  • There’s plenty of other neighborhoods that still have quite a few vacant buildings from Katrina – it’s not just the Lower Ninth Ward. 

New Orleans is a fabulous city nonetheless. Don’t wait for a conference to visit!