When I first moved to Chicago five years ago, one of the things that struck me about Chicagoans was how proud they tend to be of the precise grid that make up the city’s streets. But, of course, like most older cities, Chicago was not always so organized – what exists today is partly the result of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The destruction of the city provided a clean slate for urban planners.
I’ve been focusing on that for the past 24 hours or so. I don’t want New Orleans to be a precise grid (because isn’t there something charming to have two streets parallel in one place and perpendicular in another?), but I’m looking to the future. I won’t be around, but I like to think that 100 or so years from now, New Orleanians will refer with pride to some aspect of the city that arose as a result of the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The phoenix of Chicago arose from the ashes. Ours will arise from the water.