Friday, September 02, 2005

Trying to Understand New Orleans

I understand there was a huge hurricane and knocked the hell out of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. It is tragic, and one of the risks you take when you liev on a coastline. People in Florida know it, people in Carolina know it, and plenty of people in New Orleans and Mississippi know it.

Its fine. You make certain low-risk choices when you move somewhere, whether it is hurricanes or earthquakes or volcanoes or pollution or whatever the poison of your area is.

But here is what I was trying to figure out. Did some guy walking along the coast two hundred years ago look around, see a swamp, and say, hey, let's drain this sucker, build a wall to keep the water out, and build a city here?

Thanks to the magic of the internet, I now know the history of New Orleans. New Orleans was originally built on a crescent shaped piece of land that was above sea level. The site was selected because it was the only place int he area that was not very susceptible to flooding due to its being so high above sea level.

And as time went on, growth was limited due to lack of space. By 1910, New Orleans was pretty much as expanded as it could get.

Around 1910, engineer/builder Baldwin Wood came up with a plan that would allow New Orleans to expand into the size city a coastal port city was capable of. he came up with a plan to build canals and pumps to clear out the water, and allow New Orleans to develop this new area below seas level.

His plan worked, and the city experienced tremendous growth over most of the 20th century and into the 21st century. However, due to the removal of groundwater from beneath the city, the city sank (geological term is subsidence) even farther below sea level, to almost 6.5 feet below sea level when Katrina hit.


Blogger Krunk said...

Day-um!I bet that dude is really feeling bad in the world of truth now.

September 02, 2005 5:18 PM  
Blogger rockofgalilee said...

no way. He's laughing and saying "I can't believe they fell for it"

September 04, 2005 2:43 PM  
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