Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Newsweek columnist on Biloxi

Photo from Newsweek

Slowly, like people climbing out of the rubble itself, voices are being heard, lamenting what was lost in Biloxi and the entire Mississippi Coast. The New Orleans flood was spectacular, but the hurricane struck the heart of Biloxi:

Annalyn Swan writes in Newsweek, "We will never re-create the Biloxi I loved as a child, but we must try to build something just as unique.":

The heart of New Orleans -- what makes New Orleans New Orleans -- survived Katrina. Biloxi's history has shattered. There's simply no going back. The Dantzler House, the Brielmaier House, the Tullis-Toledano Manor: the list of vanished treasures goes on. The entire Point Cadet area on the city's east end, the historic center of Biloxi's famous fishing industry, has disappeared.

She is not excited about some plans for redevelopment:
The mayor of neighboring Gulfport, for one, has another vision: a vision of the coast as a string of casinos and high-rise condominiums. "God has come in and wiped the slate clean for us," he said. "We have an opportunity now to make it an absolutely unique place."

Nothing but condos and slots: that doesn't sound unique to me. If the coast truly wants to be unique, why not keep much of the low-lying area along the beach an open green space? Why not erect some visionary new public buildings, echoes of the pavilions that once drew crowds to the seashore? Ironically, the city was just completing a Frank Gehry-designed art museum when Katrina struck. Perhaps Biloxi could become a smaller Bilbao -- a monument to the future, if not the past.

Read her whole story: Out of the Rubble... Condos and Slots?

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