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Everyone has heard that New Orleans is below sea level; locals joke about it with a mix of dark humor and beleaguered pride, and it affects the region’s flood risk and future sustainability in fundamental ways. Yet few people realize that this condition is anthropogenic in its origins, and for the first 170 years of the city’s existence, the entire region lay above sea level. Tulane geographer Richard Campanella explains, courtesy The Times-Picayune (PDF).

New Orleans: Place Portraits — Over the next nine months, AAG’s “Focus on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast,” will feature a series of articles on New Orleans by Richard Campanella. Campanella teaches in Tulane’s School of Architecture. His geography training includes a M.S. degree from LSU where he specialized in mapping sciences. Campanella, New Orleans’ unofficial “geographer laureate,” is the author of 10 books and nearly 200 articles on New Orleans. He has received numerous awards for his highly creative integration of mapping and spatial analyses with architecture, social science and the humanities. Most recently, he received France’s highest academic honor – Chevalier dans L’Ordre des Palmes — for his geographical explications of New Orleans, past and present.

AAG’s “Focus on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast” series serves to highlight some of the unique places and spaces attendees will be able to visit during the 2018 Annual Meeting being held in New Orleans from April 10-14.