Theses Master's

Navigating the Post-Disaster Landscape: Historic Preservation and Recovery in Three New Orleans Neighborhoods

Piper, Emily

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the coast of the Gulf Coast of Mexico and devastated broad swathes of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Hurricane itself was designated a Category 3 Storm at landfall, yet it was the unprecedented extend of its aftermath that marked the event as the costliest natural disaster — and one of the five deadliest hurricanes — in the history of the United States. The storm dealt its most devastating blow indirectly to the City of New Orleans, Louisiana, where it triggered the most significant human tragedy as eighty percent of the city flooded when the engineered levee systems failed. This thesis acknowledges the human dimension of the event by examining the impact of the disaster on the physical built environment of three New Orleans neighborhoods that contribute part of the city's historic landscape. The storm, and its prolonged aftermath, altered the cultural landscape of the city — destroying entire neighborhoods, displacing whole communities, and jarring the city's identity. This thesis uses the event of Hurricane Katrina, and its aftermath, to reflect on how the legal frameworks of preservation have shaped the city of New Orleans and how they continue to reshape the city. The goal of this thesis is three-fold. To examine the preservation frameworks in place before the disaster and to identify New Orleans's particular sense of place. To discuss how these frameworks have been impacted following the disaster. And, to think about how the new and old frameworks reshape the city — engaging new constituencies in preservation, and broadening an understanding of what is "historic" in New Orleans.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
McEnaney, Elizabeth
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2012