Rubble Next to the National WWII Museum

So the weird thing about New Orleans, which I love, and also hate, is that you can get so many different things in just a few blocks, or on the same block, for that matter. Any bike ride more than a half a mile long will take you through different worlds. My daily commute, for example, takes me past mansions and apartment complexes and houses still decaying and sinking from the flood. That’s just two miles each way. I’ve lived in quite a few cities in my young life, but New Orleans is the most uneven and smashed-together of any of them. My evening ride took me through Central City and down O.C. Haley to the Quarter for a trip to the new gymnasium. This place is right on the border between the Quarter and the Treme, and the crowds on either side of N. Rampart couldn’t be more different. I mean, the gym has chandeliers in the cardio room, but across the street, the windows are blown out of what looks like used to be a theater. I rode my bike home up Magazine, bumping over potholes oozing water from leaky pipes and avoiding ridges where asphalt has worn away to reveal old streetcar tracks underneath. But then the ride is smooth on the newly paved bike lane alongside the WWII Museum. The trees are all exactly the same size and the red bricks are still level with each other. But then, all of a sudden, the pristine new complex is interrupted by this pile of rubble and unfinished facade next to that. Is it part of the atmosphere of “The American Sector,” Total Blitzkrieg Realness or something? Or is it just another example of uneven redevelopment here in New Orleans? I’m not sure, but I do like the bike lane, and I like that there is always, always, something to see when riding your bike around this place.

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