I’d like to interject two geographic terms/concepts not mentioned in the video below about New Orleans: site and situation. I would argue that in New Orleans has a horrible site (the features of a given location) but a very attractive situation (the connection and relationship to other places and resources). The first 4.5 minutes of this video nicely highlights the contrast of an incredible situation on a horrible site; this would be a great clip for a general audience (human geography or regional geography). The remaining portion of the video is still good, but more narrowly focused on the increasingly negative environmental context of New Orleans’ urban ecology.
Geographers make a distinction between site and situation as they consider the underlying foundation of a place. Few cities represent such a wide chasm between these two aspects as does New Orleans. The situation, or the answer to why does a place exist, was imperative. The Mississippi River was a major artery for the North American continent. As first the Europeans and then the Americans assumed control of the area, a port was essential at the mouth of this river. But the site, the response to where a city is placed, continues to confound. Few environments were or are more inhospitable to human habitation. Poor soil, disease, floods, and hurricanes are constant threats that have plagued the city for over three centuries. But the why trumped the where and hence the paradox of New Orleans persists.
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