New Orleans & Urban Planning

New Orleans, Photo by Jan Kronsell
Photo by Jan Kronsell

These ten nonfiction books explore the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and examine recent concepts in urban planning.

New Orleans | Urban planning

New Orleans

What is a City?: Rethinking the Urban after Hurricane Katrina
Edited by Phil Steinberg and Rob Shields
Dr. Jacob Wagner contributed to this collection of articles that examines the question, “What is a city?” Authors include urban planners, architects, policymakers, and geographers across many disciplines.

City Adrift: New Orleans Before and After Katrina
By Jenni Bergal, Sara Shipley Hiles, Frank Koughan, John McQuaid, Jim Morris, Curtis Wilkie, and Katy Reckdahl
Hurricane Katrina was a stunning example of complete civic breakdown. Beginning on August 29, 2005, the world watched in horror as every system that might have protected New Orleans failed. Levees and canals buckled, pouring more than 100 billion gallons of floodwater into the city. Botched communications crippled rescue operations. Buses that might have evacuated thousands never came. Hospitals lost power and patients lay suffering in darkness and stifling heat. At least 1,400 Louisianans died in Hurricane Katrina, more than half of them from New Orleans, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced. How could all of this have happened in twenty-first-century America? And could it happen again? To answer these questions, the Center for Public Integrity commissioned seven seasoned journalists to travel to New Orleans and investigate the storm’s aftermath.

Orléans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carré
By T.J. Fisher and Roy F. Guste, Jr.
An emotional narrative about the heart and soul of New Orleans and the city's ability to triumph over sorrow accompanies hundreds of pictures taken before and after the life- and landscape-altering Hurricane Katrina; a special section presents the classic work The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carré, which offers mesmerizing images of the verdant gardens concealed behind brick walls and iron gates in the Quarter.

African Americans and the Future of New Orleans: Rebirth, Renewal and Rebuilding an American Dilemma
By Philip S. Hart
Exploring the past, present, and future of New Orleans, this account reveals the historic racial roller coaster that is the Big Easy. Detailing its evolution from a small French colonial outpost surrounded by water and swamp into one of the most unique cities in America, this history traces the rise and fall of the great Creole city over 300 years, from 1718 all the way to 2005 when Hurricane Katrina decimated the city. A true eye-opener, it reveals the behind-the-scenes disparities and ongoing racism in the wake of Katrina. As many questions continue to go unanswered and the rebuilding of New Orleans stagnates, this call to action will encourage readers to stand up and take part.

Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life In Its Disaster Zone
By Joshua Clark
Clark, who never left New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, brings a first-person literary account to the horror of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath as he takes readers on a heart-rending journey through this atrocious national disaster.

Urban planning

This Land book jacket

This Land: The Battle over Sprawl and the Future of America
By Anthony Flint
Despite a modest revival in city living, Americans are spreading out more than ever – into "exurbs" and "boomburbs" miles from anywhere, in big houses in big subdivisions. This Land tells the untold story of development in America – how the landscape is shaped by a furious clash of political, economic and cultural forces. It is the story of a burgeoning anti-sprawl movement, a 1960s-style revolution of New Urbanism, smart growth, and green building. And it is the story of landowners fighting back on the basis of property rights, with free-market libertarians, homebuilders, road pavers, financial institutions, and even the lawn-care industry right alongside them.

Global City Blues
By Daniel Solomon
In Global City Blues, architect Daniel Solomon presents a perceptive overview and an insightful assessment of how the power and seductiveness of modernist ideals led us astray. Through a series of independent but linked essays, he takes the reader on a personal picaresque, introducing us to people, places, and ideas that have shaped thinking about planning and building and that laid the foundation for his beliefs about the world we live in and the kind of world we should be making. As an alternative, Daniel Solomon discusses the ideas and precepts of New Urbanism, a reform movement he helped found that has risen to prominence in the past decade. New Urbanism offers a vital counterbalance to the forces of sprawl, urban disintegration, and placelessness that have so transformed the contemporary landscape.

Downtown America: A History of the Place and the People Who Made It
By Alison Isenberg
Downtown America cuts beneath the archetypal story of downtown's rise and fall and offers a dynamic new story of urban development in the United States. Moving beyond conventional narratives, Alison Isenberg shows that downtown's trajectory was not dictated by inevitable free market forces or natural life-and-death cycles. Instead, it was the product of human actors – the contested creation of retailers, developers, government leaders, architects, and planners, as well as political activists, consumers, civic clubs, real estate appraisers, even postcard artists.

Carfree Cities 
By J.H. Crawford
In this volume filled with historical and contemporary references to guiding historic precedents and ideological errors of 20th-century planning, the author sets up the car-free city as the cornerstone of sustainable development. He outlines a structure carefully designed to maximize the quality of life for people and communities worldwide.

Green Urbanism: Learning From European Cities
By Timothy Beatley
In Green Urbanism, Timothy Beatley explains what planners and local officials in the United States can learn from the sustainable cities movement in Europe. The book draws from the extensive European experience, examining the progress and policies of twenty-five of the most innovative cities in eleven European countries. Beatley focuses on the key lessons from these cities and what their experience can teach us about effectively and creatively promoting sustainable development in the United States.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.

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