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Urban Geography: New Orleans Case Study

Adapted from Tulane University AHST3131

This three-credit class, taught by geographer and Senior Professor of Practice Richard Campanella, is offered each fall through the Tulane School of Architecture. Open to all with no prerequisites, AHST3131 is approved as an elective course for the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South's Musical Cultures of the Gulf South major. The class explores how to analyze cities spatially, using New Orleans as a detailed case study. We will tackle this subject through lectures, discussion, field trips, film, research, and presentations. Students will apply these guiding geographical questions to urban places:

  • What is the shape, form, and origin of the city's physical landscape?
  • How have humans transformed and manipulated that landscape into a cityscape?
  • How are phenomena spatially distributed or diffused, why, and how have those patterns changed over time?
  • How may we research, depict, characterize, and interpret those patterns?
  • How are power, class, race, and inequity involved in use of space and the allocation of urban resources?
  • How can we use geographical knowledge to restore and improve disturbed places or patterns?
  • What distinguishes urban places from each other?
  • How do people create, occupy, perceive, and contest the use of urban space?
  • What clues do we see in the present-day cityscape that shed light on the above questions?

Prof. Campanella is the author of six critically acclaimed books on the geography of New Orleans, including Bienville's Dilemma and Lincoln in New Orleans. His research has been praised in Southern History, Urban History, Places, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Louisiana History, and elsewhere. The only two-time winner of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities “Book of the Year” Award, Campanella has also received the Williams Prize for Louisiana History, the Mortar Board Award for Excellence in Teaching from Newcomb College Institute, and the Monroe Fellowship from Tulane's New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. His next book, Bourbon Street: A History, will be released by LSU Press in 2014.

Course PDF

Richard Campanella

Geographer / Senior Professor of Practice

Tulane School of Architecture geographer Richard Campanella is the author of six critically acclaimed books on the physical and human geography of New Orleans, as well as numerous journal articles and studies on New Orleans, historical geography, GIS, and remote sensing. The only two-time winner of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities “Book of the Year” Award, Campanella has also received the Williams Prize for Louisiana History, the Mortar Board Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University, and the Monroe Fellowship from Tulane’s New Orleans Center for the Gulf South.

For more information, please visit RichCampanella.com

Course Chapters

  • About This Chapter

    In this opening class, we introduce geography as a discipline and urban geography as a sub-discipline. Using maps, case studies, and…

  • About This Chapter

    In this class we discuss how the Mississippi River Deltaic Plain of southeastern Louisiana formed, and its exceptional nature as a…

  • About This Chapter

    For this class, we meet in front of Audubon Park at 10AM and, through a mix of rolling narration and disembarkations,…

  • About This Chapter

    After a discussion of geographical topics in news and current events, we discuss how cities come to be established at their…

  • About This Chapter

    Having "formed" and "settled" the landscape, now we urbanize it. In this class, we discuss principles of city structure and urban…

  • About This Chapter

    Having "formed," "settled," and "urbanized" the landscape into a cityscape, now we focus on how humans distribute themselves across it, in…

  • About This Chapter

    In the second section of "Populating the Landscape," we delve into the twentieth century and discuss segregation, integration, white flight, middle…

  • About This Chapter

    In the third section of "Populating the Landscape," we introduce modern social-spatial topics nationwide, such as gentrification and displacement, the suburbanization…

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    In this final "Populating" section, we explore how people interact spatially, move/diffuse across space, occupy urban space, and contest public space.…

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    Now we venture upriver and see the municipal water taps, batture community, Camp Parapet, River Road, Kenner riverfront, Destrehan Plantation, Ormond…

  • About This Chapter

    New Orleans has a nearly 300 year history of disaster and recovery. We review the reasons and responses to various floods,…

  • About This Chapter

    In this penultimate class, we study the recovery of New Orleans after the Katrina deluge, covering topics such as "the great…