But some economists and demographers are beginning to wonder whether New Orleans will top out at about half its prestorm population of about 444,000, already in a steep decline from its peak of 627,525 in the 1960 Census. At the moment, the population is well below half, and future gains are likely to be small.
The new doubts, surprisingly, are largely not based on the widespread damage caused by the flood. Rather, crippling problems that existed long before Hurricane Katrina are mostly being blamed for the city’s failure to thrive.
A hard, but fair, look at the situation in NOLA 17 months post-Katrina by the New York Times. The basic tennet is the possibility that the current population is within a few percentage points of what the new, normal population of NOLA will be. With pre-Katrina problems such as crime and government corruption now leading the list of issues facing the remaining residents (and those who have yet to return), the culture of NOLA is in peril.
With scholorly work now coming to the mainstream with predictions like this, what is the face of NOLA to become? Is it realistic to expect to preserve every cultural aspects of the city pre-Katrina? Where does the city shrink, either geographically, culturally, or both? Who gets to decide? Who is deciding?
In short, who chooses what to lose in order to save the most?
Hard questions, but questions that need to be asked (and for which I’ll be flamed, I’m sure). Good article, check it out.