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New Orleans Potholes Part of Crescent City Culture

What do I think about the pot holes in New Orleans? Well, I lot of folks complain about the potholes and these are mostly people that move here or are visiting. They don’t understand the importance of potholes to our culture.

New Orleans Potholes Part of Crescent City Culture

new orleans potholes

Here’s one of the great New Orleans potholes. Fit for a king.

Yes, potholes in the street is just as much part of the culture of New Orleans than anything else. Yes, yes, I know this sounds ridiculous.

But consider this, and I get this from someone who has moved here, who teaches at Tulane and is also a writer. I will not mention his name out of respect for his privacy but I will tell you something that I overheard him say at a neighborhood party that makes a lot of sense.

What’s great about New Orleans is the neighborhoods and we actually have sidewalks. Yes, can you believe there are actually communities in the country that have no sidewalks. A thing more ridiculous than that I have not heard.

Anyway, New Orleans neighborhoods are walker-friendly. Yes, as in European countries, people actually do walk here. We sit on the porch each evening and watch folks go by and we yell our greetings to those we know and those we don’t.

Since most of the neighborhoods were born in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century the streets are narrow. If cars are parked on either side of the street there is only enough room for one car to pass at a time and sometimes it’s so close that you have to slowly maneuver so as not to sideswipe or knock off a rear view mirror. So the narrowness of streets prevents folks from passing too fast.

Anyway, this professor at Tulane, in his response to someone complaining about the potholes, made an astute observation. The potholes, in addition to our streets being narrow, actually prevent people from speeding thus making the streets safer, and preventing the loud noise of roaring engines in the neighborhoods.

In fact, one could look at these potholes as a boon to the city. New Orleans in many ways is a model city when it comes to livability. It’s livable precisely because it’s designed for humans not for cars. Automobiles have to fit into the city instead of the other way around.

What a lot of folks don’t realize is that the city is built on alluvial soil, that is soil that was created by the flooding of the river laying down deposits of soil and sand as it’s made its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

In other words, the ground is not really that solid and moves and shifts. Also, the technology that’s used for our streets is outdated and doesn’t really fit the way our soil works. It’s my contention that the streets should be thicker and designed differently to allow for these shifts. But of course, that’s probably more expensive to do it that way.

Anyway, complaining about the streets does nothing to fix them and most folks just deal with it and drive more slowly. Why are people in such a hurry anyway?

Other folks complain about the potholes hurting their suspension and the like. Well, I’ve driven in this city for years and have never had a problem with blowing out any suspension on any car I’ve owned because of the potholes. I just drive carefully which one should be doing anyway whether the street has potholes or not.

OK. I’ll grant you that there are some streets that would fit into the ridiculousness category. I just avoid those streets if I’m in a hurry. So I don’t complain about potholes, I just accept them as part of living in New Orleans, part of out culture just like our ubiquitous cockroaches and sweltering heat in the summer.

Whaddaya think? Agree disagree? Leave a COMMENT!

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Why is New Orleans the worst city in the United States? - New Orleans - Metairie - Kenner metro area - City-Data Forum linked to this post on December 11, 2012

    […] Let me balance out the negatives for you, the existence of which no one will deny you. But goodness, why unload such a verbal sh*t on a city that's got more going for it right now than it has in a long time. On a side note, the CNN rankings you refer to were sensationalist malarkey with no explanation as to how they "compiled" several different reports measuring completely different things, including "media reports." The FBI report from this year doesn't even put New Orleans in the top 25 most violent cities in the US: The 25 Most Dangerous Cities in America – Yahoo! Finance Some love from our brethren across the pond: Think America's game is up? Take a trip to New Orleans and you'll find a different story – Comment – Voices – The Independent The New New Orleans: Exploring the New New Orleans – Articles | Travel + Leisure Unemployment: New Orleans: 3rd lowest among cities with +300,000 population. Louisiana: 16th lowest in unemployment (tied with Mass. and Texas). Foreclosure Rates: 5th lowest among cities w/ +300,000 population. Fastest Growing City: #1 – New Orleans, AGAIN. (The Fastest- and Slowest-Growing U.S. Cities – Fastest-Growing Cities – Businessweek) Investment in Infrastructure: New Orleans is Stepping Up its Game for Super Bowl XLVII – Forbes Tapping into New Industries: A New Economic Report Surfaces, But It Could Have A Hollywood South Ending – Forbes Best City for Young Entrepreneurs (2011): New Orleans (Top 10 Cities for Young Entrepreneurs 2011 : Under30CEO) Top Cities in US & Canada by Travel & Leisure: #5 – New Orleans America's Best Cities: New Orleans #1 (America's Best Cities- Page 2 – Articles | Travel + Leisure) Most Romantic City in the World: #1 – New Orleans (World's 8 most really, truly romantic cities | CNN Travel) Education: "In the years since Hurricane Katrina, public schools in New Orleans have seen standardized test performance improve, fewer students attend failing schools, and more students graduate from high school prepared for college and the workplace." (…PENO-20121.pdf) Also, potholes are the least of the city's problems right now. But since they enrage you so much, perhaps you should read up on them: New Orleans Potholes Part of Crescent City Culture […]

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