POSTED Tue. Dec 31, 2013
Looking back at 2013 with New Orleans & Me
Adam Karlin
Written by ADAM KARLIN

There were plenty of important moments in New Orleans this year. They had their ups and downs, but more than anything, they had impact.

There were more New Orleanians, and more new New Orleanians
According to the T-P the city is at 76 percent of its pre-Katrina population. That number skyrockets to 92 percent if you factor in the greater metropolitan area. But many residents are ‘new New Orleanians,’ and this year, debates about that group’s impact and the way they’ve changed the nature of the city took center stage. Both sides of the argument have their merits and flaws; if newcomers occasionally had a holier-than-thou attitude, the nativists sometimes cloaked an angry chauvinism in a thin veneer of gumbo and Yat speak. Still, the issue remained (and remains) unresolved, even as the dynamic remains unchanged young, relatively affluent transplants move here. Real estate goes up. Natives leave.

Sure, New Orleans has always been made up of different waves of immigrants – French, Spanish, German, Anglo-American, Irish, Jewish, Vietnamese, Honduran – and her culture is not some static womb of second lines and gumbo. But let’s face it: the twentysomething localvore who’s been to Thailand and South America and rides a cruiser bike in a tutu can be found in Austin, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Portland and similar enclaves across America. They don’t make New Orleans New Orleans. That honor goes to the lady with rollers in her hair who’s been peeling crawfish since she could walk, and her people are increasingly found in St Bernard, St Tammany and Jefferson Parish – the suburbs the new transplants sneer at.

We made lists. Good and bad.
Oh, were there lists. So many lists. Hell, I wrote a ton of them. National Geographic said we were one of the Best trips of 2014. We basically topped out Travel & Leisure’s America’s Favorite Cities survey (best Live music scene, Happy hour, People-watching, Wild weekend and Cocktail lounges. What’d you get, Charleston? Number 2 in home décor stores? Whoop-dee-shit. I’m not a big fan of Charleston). We also topped lists for weird accents and (of course) being drunk. Unfortunately, we also made the list of the Most Violent Cities in the World, beating out Detroit and Baltimore as the most violent American city. Our murder rate may have gone down this year, but it – and violent crime in general – remains a debilitating issue, one that continues to threaten our communities and children. No amount of beignet powder can sugar coat that sobering reality.

We got national clout
In The Atlantic, we’ve been labeled the nation’s next (potential) innovation hub.. The New York Times says we’re experiencing a restaurant renaissance unparalleled in recent memory. We’ve grown attractive to national chains, evidenced by Costco and Mid-City Marketplace. I know plenty of folks who spit in the direction of businesses like this, arguing that they dilute our essential New Orleansness, and there’s validity to that position, but at the end of the day I see a lot of locals shopping at these spots. Gentrification brings change, and some of that change has displaced natives, but some of it has given other natives of humble means increased access to amenities. Unfortunately, for all that national namebrading, Orleans Parish is also nationally recognized as one of the most unequal localities in the country. We can argue in circles over what that stat proves from an economic standpoint, but it’s certainly related to the above crime issues, as well as the city’s demographic shifts.

Happy New Year, New Orleans
In short: the times, they are a ‘changing. And in some ways, they’re changing faster than this city ever anticipated. At the same time, our biggest flaws – crime and poverty – seem as entrenched as ever. We’re getting better at recognizing these problems, but we can all agree there’s work to be done when it comes to addressing them. And putting in that work is what we New Orleanians do. We love this city: both for what she is and what she can become. Hope you’ll join us in that mission in the New Year.


    Our Local Publisher Partners

    • The Arts Council of New Orleans
    • WWNO
    • WWOZ
    • PRC
    • NOMA
    • The Historic New Orleans Collection
    • Southern Food
    • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
    The Arts Council of New Orleans

    The Arts Council of New Orleans is a private, non-profit organization designated as the City’s official arts agency. The Arts Council serves as one of eight regional distributing agencies for state arts funds and administers available municipal arts grants and the Percent For Art program for the City of New Orleans. The Arts Council works in partnership with the City of New Orleans, community groups, local, state, and national governmental agencies, and other nonprofit arts organizations to meet the arts and cultural needs of the New Orleans community through a diversity of initiatives and services.


    WWNO, the NPR member station for New Orleans, serves southeast Louisiana and parts of southwest Mississippi by broadcasting balanced news, thought provoking analysis, classical music, jazz and other musical styles, intelligent entertainment, and unique local content. We broadcast on 89.9 FM, and KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area as a public service of the University of New Orleans. All of WWNO’s programs, including its growing local news coverage, are available online at


    WWOZ 90.7 FM is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station offering listener-supported, volunteer-programmed community radio. WWOZ covers many events live in and around the city and across the United States, and broadcasts live from the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival annually. WWOZ’s mission is to be the worldwide voice, archive, and flag-bearer of New Orleans culture and musical heritage.


    Preservation Resource Center (PRC) has been preserving, restoring, and revitalizing New Orleans’ historic architecture and neighborhoods since 1974. Throughout its history, PRC has acted as an advocacy agent on a local, regional, and national scale, spreading the word about the city’s rich architectural heritage and the economic importance of preserving this heritage. PRC also takes a hands-on approach to preservation, with a history of successfully restoring over 1,400 properties. The center strengthens and revitalizes New Orleans in a way that is forward-looking and sustainable, yet sensitive to the city’s past and its heritage.


    As a nexus for the arts in New Orleans, NOMA is committed to preserving, interpreting, and enriching its collections and renowned sculpture garden; offering innovative experiences for learning and interpretation; and uniting, inspiring, and engaging diverse communities and cultures.

    The Historic New Orleans Collection

    The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) is a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Its holdings comprise more than one million items from more than three centuries, documenting moments both major and minor. Its four exhibition spaces–the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art–faithfully depict the multicultural stories of the region, from permanent displays exploring the evolution of Louisiana to rotating exhibitions showcasing history and fine art.

    Southern Food

    The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is a nonprofit living history organization dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of the food, drink and the related culture of the South. While based in New Orleans, the Museum examines and celebrates all the cultures that have come together through the centuries to create the South’s unique culinary heritage. The Museum is also home to the collections of the Museum of the American Cocktail, the Galerie d’Absinthe, and a demonstration kitchen.

    Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities to all Louisianans.

    The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ mission is to provide all Louisianans with access to and an appreciation of their own rich, shared and diverse historical, literary and cultural heritage through grant-supported outreach programs, family literacy and adult reading initiatives, teacher professional development institutes, publications, film and radio documentaries, museum exhibitions, cultural tourism, public lectures, library projects, and other public humanities programming.



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