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Razing New Orleans

Remember what I said about Bienville being just the tip of the iceberg? There are 1700+ properties on the “imminent threat” list. I just discovered my next door neighbor’s house is one of them! I called him (he’s in Texas) and he was shocked and alarmed. He has not been notified that his house is slated for demolition.

In an effort to visualize the scope of these demolitions, I’ve been fiddling around with and Google Earth.

Imminent Threat

(I’ve posted the data to Google Earth Community for the true geeks.)

Of course I’ve been paying particular attention to the demolition in Mid-City. There are a lot of them, not just along Bienville. (I’ve posted Google Earth data for just Mid-City too.) According to a friend of mine, “The last major demolition of historic houses at this scale for urban renewal was the demolition of Treme for Louis Armstrong Park.”

I got an interesting phone call yesterday from a woman who read my blog and wanted to share some information anonymously. I asked her to put it in writing, so she sent me the following via e-mail, which I thought was quite extraordinary.

redacted — see later post

Published inNew Orleans


  1. Carmen Carmen

    “Especially in Broadmoor.” I have to laugh every time I see or hear hints of that mythology. All the people I know are sooooo disillusioned with the BIA for not standing on city issues which affect us all, and chasing tail with minor things. Whatever.

    I hate having ‘Katrina brain’ memory lapses, so I was looking for that ‘anonymous’/’eminent domain’ quote – which rang a bell but where can you write anonymously, where this issue was covered? – and instead I came across this:

    Which I remembered for the storyline, of course, and found again here:

    We need to save David’s house. Does his mother even know about her house being on this list?

  2. Garvey Garvey

    Disregarding the nefarious activities that may or may not be involved here, I am not sure I understand the “scope” of these demolitions. Let’s look at only the raw numbers (and not the shady dealings behind this). Pre-K, there were roughly 220,000 houses. 1700 is a little less than eight-tenths of one percent.

    Another way to say that is one in every 129 houses will be torn down.

    Even pre-K, is it hard to believe that a random sample of 129 houses in N.O. would yield one house that should be torn down?

    The zoomed-out Google map is completely misleading. It makes it look like the firebombing of Dresden. Laughably, each little target icon on the map is shown to be about 9 square blocks or even half the size of Audubon golf course, when in reality it is a single, tiny home on one block. I can’t help but look at the map as a propaganda tool.

    And while it may make me a pariah in some circles, I don’t buy into the belief that old = “historic.” It’s an abuse of the spirit of the concept, IMO. It’s like calling a 1977 Chevy Malibu station wagon a “classic car.” No it’s not: it’s an old POS. Same with houses. Just because a shitbox shotgun was built in 1906 doesn’t make it “historic.” It’s just old. And it was never anything special to begin with.

  3. Garvey, of course you’re correct in some of your observations. New Orleans is full of houses which need to be demolished — and that was true before Katrina. But the reality here is that we have numerous houses which are in danger of imminent collapse which are not on the list, and while numerous houses which pose no threat are on the list.

    The map is simply the best I could do with my limited resources. See the follow-up post which links to a true interactive map that allows you to zoom in to whatever level you like.

  4. Garvey Garvey

    Thanks, B. I didn’t mean to crap on your map. I meant the other map, too–the interactive one. It only starts to reveal reality when you zoom in. Zoomed out, it still has the same problem of overstating the case.

    And I know you were making a different–and familiar–point, that the whole thing is a clusterfuck. That’s pretty much business as usual down there, but it’s great that people like you actually give a shit enough to fight it and make it known. Kudos.

    I was only looking at the raw numbers and doubted that 1700 was a lot, (compared to the whole).

  5. I think the dots have to be rather sizable in those interactive maps for usability’s sake — so you can click the dot and get the address.

    Indeed 1,700 is not a big number in some ways. By way of comparison, a friend informs me that “Per FEMA, there have been 3,800 FEMA demos so far, and an equal number of private ones.” 1,700 is a small number in comparison.

    Of course if it’s your house and you didn’t want it demolished, that’s one house too many.

    I probably should have stuck with my original title for this post: “Unwanted Demolitions” instead of the alarmist “Razing of New Orleans.” Sometimes I get carried away.

  6. […] in danger of collapse were not on the list. My next-door neighbor was on the list, much to his shock and alarm. It was maddening. Karen and her compatriots were documenting the madness; local bloggers (such as […]

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