As part of our month-long expedition across North America in search of creativity, community, and innovation, we explore change and evolution in the resilient city.

New Orleans, Louisiana, was the third stop on our month-long search for inspiration across the country. Five years after Hurricane Katrina, NOLA has undergone dramatic change – the city’s population, which fell to 50% post-Katrina, has returned to nearly 80%; and the number of those living below the poverty line in Orleans Parish (which encompasses New Orleans) has dropped by 68,000. But as many institutions, experts and NOLAers are quick to point out, this revitalization is a result of factors beyond systemic improvement in the city’s ecology and economy. While new money, businesses and residents have helped pave the road to recovery for New Orleans, much of the population and history that were lost in Katrina will never return. The city’s growing numbers are made up less of returning and original NOLAers than new (and for the most part, wealthier) transplants. Many of the residents displaced by the storm remain so indefinitely, and the neighborhoods devastated five years ago still stand largely blighted, reclaimed by the wilderness that once grew around them.

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