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Your e-mails: The Crescent City's future

CNN.com users on reviving the spirit of New Orleans

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Should New Orleans be rebuilt?
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(CNN) -- As New Orleans residents begin the painstaking task of rebuilding their hurricane-ravaged city, many wonder: What will the new New Orleans be like?

CNN.com asked readers whether New Orleans will ever be the same and what would need to be saved or rebuilt to maintain the spirit of the city. Here is a sampling of those responses, some of which have been edited:

New Orleans would never be same. Bulldoze all the the buildings down for use as a landfill, along with river rock from Tennessee, and red clay from Mississippi, the ground could be raised above sea level. Only then could the city be rebuilt (within a concrete Super Dome).
CC Smith, Brandon, Mississippi

New Orleans will not be the same. I've been there many times, and there's just something about all the old buildings, the way the town was laid out, as well as the flavor of the outlying parishes that will not be the original any longer. Great efforts should be made to save/restore churches, preserve original architectural design of rebuilt landmarks, and (even though financially this will never happen due to real estate values), create a large open space a la Central Park for the citizens to be able to come together and mix better. New Orleans suffered from formal and informal segregation over the years. The spirit of segregation and racial divide needs to be rebuilt -- this can enhance the spirit of the city.
Lisa Kyper, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

New Orleans will never be the same, so do something different. Build the lowest parts of the city higher, on stilts or create islands. Create canals like Venice, Italy. Create ornamental bridges over these canals. Create waterway expressways. Build floating areas on barges. Create better seawalls and levees. Create water parks for snorkeling, diving, fishing, swimming, skiing, boating, and to promote wetlands and wildlife.
Billy Snider, Knoxville, Tennessee

New Orleans, throughout her illustrious history, has withstood hurricanes, fire, plague. She is a city with a warm, open heart. That heart, her courage, her endurance, her vitality, and her importance to this nation are still there, always will be there. All you need to do is visit and she will wrap her arms around you. ... Know this: Our lady, our Crescent City, will shine again. The good times will roll again. So, let's get the best minds, the dollars, at work on the levees. Let's clean up Jackson Square and the French Quarter and let the life, the music, the food, and the soul of the city do the necessary healing.
Remy Benoit, Folsom, Louisiana

No. I went there several times and enjoyed the experience each time. It was unique; but the uniqueness was directly related to its history, architecture, style-of-life, and the people who lived there. And I think all were directly linked to the authenticity of the city and its evolution. To recreate New Orleans would be like building a replica of an old west town, or the city-based hotels in Las Vegas, or any theme park. They are all approximations, fantasies and just make you long for the real thing.
Art Consoli, Scottsdale, Arizona

Bottom line ... the people are the spirit of any city. Rebuild their homes, and you have helped to restore the spirit of the city. Beyond that, the people of New Orleans know best what needs to be done to bring back their city.
David Adie, Charlottesville, Virginia

[The] federal government should give very low interest rate loan to the people and state should change the building code to iron and concrete and at least 12 feet off the ground. Otherwise a lot of poeple are not going to come back.
Sean Rezai, Los Angeles, California

Let's get real, people. It's much like getting lung cancer and continuing to smoke, and blaming the tobacco companies for your ignorance. Don't worry about replacing the old New Orleans. Find a nice dry place and build a new one, or you will be building it again about the time you finish rebuilding the dikes and all the infrastructure from this hurricane. I would like to have a Lexus, but unfortunately I can't have one. I'm tired of "save the airlines, save New Orleans, save the whales." Instead, build nuclear plants, refineries, develop our oil reserves offshore and onshore, become the America we can be. Get off the drug of Middle East oil. It's like crack cocaine to us.
Larry Ryan, Adairsville, Georgia

Can New Orleans ever be the same? Hum, I don't think so, but it will most likely change for the good. Louisiana is a state unlike any other, filled with rich culture, good food, and great fun. It's a tourist attraction by nature and it will always be. I believe New Orleans will not hold the consecutive title as being the murder capital. I believe the school system will improve tremendously for Orleans Parish employees, students, etc. If the Louisiana government finally decides to eliminate the corruption and properly allocate the much needed funding, then maybe I can see hope. The economy wasn't all that great even before 9/11, jobs were scarce, poverty and unemployment rates were high. To be honest, I can speak for myself and a thousand others that say there's no turning back unless the grass is really greener. Nonetheless, if the money is spent to rebuild New Orleans, what is a city without its people?
Monique Songy, New Orleans, Louisiana

I experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 (7.1 magnitude) in California. There was recovery; it changed the infrastructure but not the spirit of its people. New Orleans will recover but some of the old structures -- great places containing lovable memories and rich life along the Mississippi River -- will change. Society is very similar to nature in its ability to be unforgiving, dramatic and powerful. The future of this great city lies solely on our ability to learn from this terrible disaster and to help not capitalize. I'm confident that with compassion and hard work the wonderful culture and hospitality that New Orleans is famous for will return. The darkened skies will part because hope and promise for its people will shine again.
Sam Vaughan, Mexico, Missouri

New Orleans will never be the same. Why rebuild? That's crazy! I'm not paying to rebuild the city of New Orleans with my tax dollars. The officials of that city knew that the levees were an issue in the 1990s.
Cathy, Nashua, New Hampshire

I lived near 9/11, and now realize that New York City will never be or feel the same. However, it will survive and prosper. Being the same is only important in the short run, while a city is healing, the future is never how we think it will be. New Orleans may find a better future by letting go of the myth that its past was being somehow preserved. Big cities change and grow as each generation brings a new spirit to the mix.
Fred, Brooklyn, New York

New Orleans can indeed be structurally rebuilt, but the spirit of the city will never be the same because Hurricane Katrina freed the slaves around whom most of the culture centered. Most visitors to New Orleans enjoyed the "Southern hospitality" and the sense of the "Old South." Now, those who cooked, cleaned up behind, danced, sang, and received slave wages for their entertainment are gone. Thank you God for setting them free.
Eleanor Barnes, Missouri City, Texas

New Orleans will never be the same, but it can and should be better. Remember, the city was in decline with many problems before Katrina. Now, a wonderful opportunity exists for the city to reinvent itself. It is up to all citizens and government officials to show the world what America can produce out of the devastation. It can be an exciting time.
Russ Martin, Wappingers Falls, New York

It will never be the same if it is properly rebuilt. The French Quarter must be retained but all poverty-stricken areas must be rebuilt and maintained in a improved status. The poor of New Orleans must never be forgotten as they were in the past. The police force now has a chance to be rebuilt into a respectful force free of the reported corruption of the past force. Clean up the politics of the city and put in a respectable government that understands its people and takes care of them and the government have in the past taken care of themselves.
George Schooler, Midlothian, Virginia

The city should not be the same. It had deteriorated in the last three decades. Bucktown and the West End are not destinations for great lake seafood as they once were. The city had become dirty and looked unkempt. The once great city park looked ragged. My home had lost much of the great grace it had. Which spirit of the city do you want to recreate?
David F Bowman, Austin, Texas

No, I don't think New Orleans can ever be the same, and that is a good thing. New Orleans is what it is because of its ability to adapt and yet remain a unique entity. There is nothing else like it and it will make its identity known as time goes on. I think that the people of New Orleans know who they are and have the wherewithal to reinvent themselves as they see fit. They know their architecture. They know their culture. They know their heritage. They know best what they want. Let's improve the building codes and, at the same time, let the people of New Orleans decide their own destiny as they see fit. The spirit is still there and will never leave.
James Wilson, St. Petersburg, Florida

Hopefully, the city won't be exactly the same. There are some elements that I hope we leave behind. I also hope that the architecture and old world charm are incorporated into so much of the new construction that needs to take place. Tax credits/incentives for historic preservation would help to support this effort.
Sharon, New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans may never be the same, but there is no reason it can't duplicate the charm that draws visitors. Allowing architectural artists to recreate and enhance the classic designs that make New Orleans so unique are necessary to reconstitute the atmosphere needed for survival. Believe me, stamped-out housing does nothing to enhance a world-class city and New Orleans can become so if proper attention is placed there. Think "ornate."
Wayne, Kansas City, Kansas

New Orleans should not be the same: it has serious problems. That having been said, I believe the most important part of saving the spirit of New Orleans to care for the culture: make sure the musicians come back, make sure the Mardi Gras Indians come back, make sure Carnival survives. Take care of the Islenos, the Acadians, the Creole, the Native Americans. At this writing, we are all scattered around the country. Mayor Nagin needs to make sure his people make it back, and when we do come back, he's got to look out for us.
Mary Shelton, New Orleans, Louisiana

The buildings will never be the same. Many were built during the early 1700s. But the buildings are not all that New Orleans really is...it is its people! They are the true New Orleans! My father was a jockey at Fair Grounds Race Track (which, for the first time, will not have a season this year). He had pictures on the walls of Pat O'Brien's that will never go up again. It is sad, but the reality is like I said...New Orleans will rise again with the same uniqueness because of its people...God bless them all!
Bonnie, St. Petersburg, Florida

New Orleans will hopefully be the same in the preservation of their cultural heritage (i.e. the French Quarter, the Garden District, the trolley and other areas of interest). But rebuilding should focus on improvements designed to make sure New Orleans is not the same -- destruction of substandard housing, better levees and ideally landfill to raise the level of the city.
Catherine Kayser, Escazu, Costa Rica

It can never be exactly the same, but nowhere is. It is essential that a mix of income levels be maintained, that poor people not be pushed out of the city, but that they have opportunity to live in a safer manner. The city's notorious corruption must be broken from within. It is essential that the arts be given a more flourishing atmosphere, and not just for the rich, for that would miss the whole magic of the city.
Mary Droscher, West Melbourne, Florida

No, New Orleans will never be the same again. I was brought up in Europe during World War II and after. I have seen cities rebuilt after the bombing devastation and it is not the same anymore. I believe New Orleans should be rebuilt only after the levees have been rebuilt from the ground up, or better yet at a more inland location. If this is not accomplished rebuilding money is wasted, for this type disaster is surely happening again.
Anna Bevz, Tucson, Arizona

The people, music and architecture make this city and its tenacious spirit. The businesses and homes should be rebuilt to reflect the special character and culture of the local people...vibrant, seasoned, exquisite, melodic and most of all...strong.
Melissa Colar, Palm Beach, Florida

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