Uncalculated Risk

December 6th, 2020

A brief history of New Orleans’ industrial canal and the risk to life posed by obsolete ideas in an era of planetary change.

A brief history of New Orlean’s Industrial Canal Lock

Residents of New Orleans and the city’s surrounding parishes are no strangers to the role large-scale infrastructural projects have played in heightening risk while reducing equity in the region. In this text, two local community advocates, architectural historian Jeffrey Treffinger and John Koeferl, president of Citizens Against Widening the Industrial Canal (CAWIC), provide a brief history of expansionist projects undertaken by the United States Corps of Engineers in the area, demonstrating how many of today’s endeavors are rooted in now obsolete ideas from the past. In doing so, the authors argue that it is only by abandoning these outdated approaches, which typically favor the needs of industry over citizens, and engaging with the challenges of the current era that the rising tide of planetary change can be stemmed—not only in the case of New Orleans, but everywhere.