New Orleans: Port City to Global Hinterland

Project Team:
    • Jacob Mitchell
    • Shelby Doyle
    • Justine Holzman
    • Karen May
    • Brendan Gordon
    • Jeff Carney Former Director, Coastal Sustainability Studio
    • Monica Barra
    • Giovanni Coakley
    • Chris He
    • Maureen Jackson
    • Xuan Kuai
    • Ran Liu
    • Madeline Richard
    • Sean Williams

The lower Mississippi River is a globalized hub of international commerce—an important economic resource. Using publicly available data, we can visualize Louisiana’s global commercial connections, extensive trade infrastructure, and levees and waterways that support Louisiana’s global commercial connections. Research shows that flood control structures are responsible for degradation of local deltaic ecosystems. Urban forms that rely on flood control structures require a regional approach that balances economic development with environmental sustainability. Controlling the river enables new urban forms to emerge along the Mississippi River.

Topographical data reveals that urban forms have decentralized from New Orleans as the shipping industry expanded into the hinterland. Consequently, individuals working in industry reside in satellite urban areas versus major urban centers. Relocating industry to the Mississippi River circumvents the urban planning process and results in political disengagement. Human environments are increasingly endangered as globalized industries refuse to acknowledge their actions in the Mississippi River delta. New Orleans has transformed into the hinterland of global commerce, yet urban forms in New Orleans no longer adjoin and interact with port complexes, disconnecting the city from its international commerce. Our visualizations investigate how international commerce and economic development redraws the relationship of heartland to hinterland and induces environmental burdens produced by the urbanization of the river.