Great article from the New Orleans Times Picayune (click HERE for full piece):
The changing face — and faces — of New Orleans
by Sarah Carr, The Times-PicayuneSunday August 23, 2009, 3:00 PM
The Katrina-imposed exile of New Orleans natives and the influx of newcomers have many wondering if the city’s culture has been permanently diluted or only refreshed with new blood.John McCusker / The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans native Timolynn Sams and newcomer Gill Benedek stand on Canal Street in New Orleans.
Growing up in Broadmoor, Timolynn Sams traversed the neighborhoods of her hometown by instinct. On bike rides to visit her cousins miles away on Tchoupitoulas Street, or on solitary walks to Hollygrove, she knew exactly which streets were safe and which houses she could stop at to use the bathroom or chat with friends.
Those days are gone. And Sams does not believe the intimate familiarity that defined the New Orleans streetscape will return any time soon.
“I think that’s something we’ve lost, ” she says. “We don’t know where our people are.”
Four years after Hurricane Katrina, encouraging new statistics suggest New Orleans has regained three-quarters of its prestorm population, defying predictions that the city would never again approach its former size.
That statistic, however, masks a subtler shift. The city is now home to a tide of newcomers unprecedented in recent history, including Hispanic day laborers, idealistic young teachers, and urban planners all drawn by the unique opportunity to help a devastated city rebuild, almost from scratch.