This environmental history explores the rise, fall, and rebirth of one of the nation's most important urban public landscapes and, more significantly, the role that public spaces play in shaping people's relationships with the natural world. Ari Kelman focuses on the battles fought over New Orlean's waterfront, examining the link between a river and its city and tracking the conflict between public and private control of the river. He describes the impact of floods, disease, and changing technologies on New Orlean's interactions with the Mississippi. Considering how the city grew distant - culturally and spatially - from the river, this book argues that urban areas provide a rich source for understanding people's connections with nature and, in turn, nature's impact on human history. Using an interdisciplinary approach, Kelman underscores the role that common people have played in shaping the city and portrays the Mississippi as an active participant in New Orlean's history.
In a post-Katrina article, the author of this book called attention to New Orleans' blessing and curse: This Mississippi River port has a near-perfect location but almost unimaginably bad real estate. A River and Its City, Kelman's classic 2003 study, stands as an extended response to everybody's post-hurricane question: Why did they build a city there? With compelling clarity and convincing erudition, Kelman documents the development of America's most improbable metropolis, explaining how nature has affected the city's history.