New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a city that is famous for its vibrant culture, unique cuisine, and lively music scene. However, what many people don’t know is that the geography of New Orleans plays a significant role in shaping the city’s identity.Firstly, New Orleans sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and is below sea level. This makes it highly susceptible to flooding during storms or hurricanes. To combat this, residents have developed an intricate drainage system consisting of canals and pumps which pump water out into the lake during heavy rainfalls. Secondly, New Orleans is surrounded by wetlands that are home to diverse wildlife such as alligators and egrets. These wetlands help protect the city from storm surges by acting as a natural buffer zone. It also serves as an important ecosystem where plants like cypress trees thrive in murky waters. The Demography of New Orleans, LA paints a picture of a city that’s not only growing fast, but also changing rapidly.

Ranger Guard and Investigations | Geography of New Orleans, Louisiana

On the natural levees or high land beside the river, New Orleans was first populated. Following the 1965 Flood Control Act, the U.S. The Army Corps of Engineers constructed floodwalls and artificial levees all the way around a considerably greater geographic area that previously included marshes and swamp. Development in lower elevation places was eventually made possible by the pumping of water from marshes. In the present, one-half of the city lies at or below the local mean sea level, and the other is just slightly above it. There is evidence that shows subsidence may be the cause of some of the city’s height loss.

“51%… of the contiguous urbanized portions of Orleans, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes lie at or above sea level,” according to a 2007 study by Tulane and Xavier University, with the most densely inhabited regions typically on higher ground. The city is currently between one and two feet (0.30 and 0.61 m) below sea level on average, with some areas reaching as high as twenty feet (6 m) near the base of the river levee in Uptown and as low as two feet (0.7 m) below sea level in Eastern New Orleans‘ farthest reaches. But according to a study presented in the 2016 ASCE Journal of Hydrologic Engineering:

Between the Mississippi River and Rampart Street, which is the northern limit of the French Quarter, every street that crosses Canal Street has a separate name for the “uptown” and “downtown” sections. For instance, St. Charles Avenue, noted for its street car line, is known as Royal Street below Canal Street, but it is actually recognized as St. Charles Street when it runs through the Central Business District between Canal and Lee Circle. Canal Street divides the “South” and “North” parts of a number of streets in other parts of the city. Uptown is referred to as being “upriver from Canal Street” while downtown is used to refer to being “downriver from Canal Street.” The French Quarter, Tremé, the 7th Ward, Faubourg Marigny, and Bywater are some of the downtown areas.

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