To mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this week Curbed is looking at how the housing, architecture, and neighborhoods of New Orleans have changed since the storm. Here, the first of two Q&As with long-time residents of the city.
Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures permanently altered New Orleans, and now, nearly 10 years after the storm, residents are reflecting on the ways in which this city has changed—for worse and for better. Journalists raced to report back to the world what it desperately wanted to know: How is New Orleans doing these days? Really, the best way to find that out is the way New Orleanians have always gotten important information—ask your neighbors. We asked long-time residents of a representative sample of 15 neighborhoods—neighborhoods that were drastically affected by the storm, have changed rapidly in the past decade, and/or have a strong neighborhood identity—to reflect on how housing, architecture, development, quality of life, and neighborhood character have changed, or stayed the same, since the storm. Their stories are of a changed New Orleans, one with rising housing costs, an increasingly younger population, and creeping gentrification. In some neighborhoods, post-Katrina recovery has remained stagnant, while other neighborhoods have flourished, either due to increased investment in the area or the sheer willpower of longtime residents. But many accounts show a New Orleans with a stubbornly strong sense of community and history—you know your neighbors, you value local businesses, you understand you are the mere custodian of a decades-old historical home. In that way, in many neighborhoods, not much has changed.
This is part one of a two-part series of Q&As with locals. Conversations have been shortened and edited.