By Ari Kelman
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Extra resources for A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans
At ﬁrst glance, this may seem like another retelling of the tragic tale running through many environmental and urban histories—the degradation of the natural environment and the enclosure of public space at the hands of economic elites. And yet, New Orleans’s reciprocal relationship with the Mississippi adds complexity to these well-worn sto- 16 Prologue ries. By examining episodes in which non-elite residents of the city have succeeded in maintaining the waterfront’s status as a mixed-use, public space, I highlight the role that common people have played in shaping that landscape.
The artiﬁcial levees and warehouses lining the waterfront formed a physical barrier between New Orleans and the Mississippi, while the conﬂation of the riverfront’s public character with commercial endeavors further alienated many people from that space. In short, by the mid-twentieth century, sepia-toned images of the river ﬂowing by the city were little more than vestiges of public memory lingering from the antebellum era. At ﬁrst glance, this may seem like another retelling of the tragic tale running through many environmental and urban histories—the degradation of the natural environment and the enclosure of public space at the hands of economic elites.
After a short wait, the court’s decision was likely evident in Livingston’s barely concealed glee and the fury that Moreau-Lislet and Derbigny struggled to contain. The three presiding judges ruled unanimously: Jean Gravier’s title to the batture— deﬁned as the part of the Mississippi’s banks remaining covered in times of high water and uncovered during low—fronting the Faubourg (false city or suburb) St. 1 Perhaps the justices believed that such an unwavering verdict would silence controversy surrounding what was becoming known as the batture case.