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A Historical Geography of New Orleans

Bienville's Dilemma

  • Starting in 1699, a teenaged French Canadian named Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville grappled with a high-stakes dilemma: where should the primary city for the new French colony of Louisiana be located? Bienville eventually selected, in 1718, a swampy crescent of alluvium nestled between a flood-prone river and a storm-prone tidal lagoon.

    Bienville's Dilemma presents sixty-eight articles on the historical geography of New Orleans, covering the formations and foundation of the city, its urbanization and population, its "humanization" into a place of distinction, the manipulation of its environment, its devastation by Hurricane Katrina, and its ongoing recovery.

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