Can a city have a soul?

The UNHabitat article about the history of New Orleans was quite fascinating. I think that it touched well on the problem of housing by addressing not only the quality of the housing but also the location and history. The fact that the entire Lower Ninth ward was built onto of what used to be a swamp is quite shocking to me! The article says 50% of the residents had owned their current house in the Lower Ninth Ward for more than 10 years and although we may look at the home-ownership rate and see success, in reality those homes were old, broken down, and dangerous, unable to be left or refurbished due to lack of funds. Even so the houses contained history; the history of the family living there and the European influence that is oh so prevalent in New Orleans. However when Hurricane Katrina hit, the entire Lower Ninth Ward was flooded, countless homes and buildings were damaged, and entire neighborhood populations labeled as refugees. All together, I believe that the position and history of the Lower Ninth Ward spelled out a recipe for disaster. And I ask, why was the city not concerned about this? Previously the same area had experienced flooding yet nothing was done to protect the neighborhoods. I ask, in case of emergency who is allowed to leave? Many of the people living in the Lower Ninth Ward did not have access to a car and thus were not able to flee the city when storm warnings came in. I ask, why were houses allowed to be built there in the first place? This is an urban problem that should be addressed in every city. Legislation needs to be made to ensure that every citizen has access to affordable, safe housing and a way to leave the city when disaster strikes. One quote that I really enjoyed from the essay was, “But while the city of New Orleans will no doubt be eventually rebuilt, many fear its soul has been lost forever.” Can a city have a soul? I say yes. The soul of the city lies within the people who live there and the history of the city. The soul of New Orleans was lost when citizens were labeled refugees because their old, unsafe homes were destroyed, when people were trapped in the city with no way out, or when thousands vowed to never return. 

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