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Surrounded by Water

The Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum in New Orleans, currently has a fascinating exhibit about the geography of the city and its relationship to waterways. The exhibit and an accompanying film seem to be a plea for understanding of the city and its situation, against critics who question why money should be spent to rebuild and preserve a city in such a precarious place as a sinking swamp.

While it is true that parts of the city are built below sea level, and that the mighty river and sea must be held back by vulnerable levees and sea walls, the location of New Orleans is not some defiance of natural order but a prime location for a city. It was settled as the gateway between the sea and the great Mississippi artery leading in to middle America, back when goods travelled mostly by water. Whether the city can recover an economic reason for its existence other than tourism will be a struggle for the future.

This exhibit provides an excuse for reexamining how the rich history of this place relates to its geography, with the underlying message that New Orleans' future depends on the city becoming a partner with its landscape rather than an adversary.

Surrounded by Water

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 16, 2008 9:06 AM.

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