Aug 23, 201012:00 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
New Orleans, Five Years Ago This Week
This week five years ago was the last week of New Orleans before Katrina. In many ways the city’s contemporary history would begin anew, to be dated by the event that we now observe as the Year Five. Here is a miscellaneous list of what New Orleans was like in the last days of August '05 before our lives would dramatically change. Your additions are welcomed.
• Ray Nagin was mayor. He was still popular and seen as a reformer.
• Kathleen Blanco was governor. She was respected for her experience.
• Council member at large Oliver Thomas was seen as the most likely next mayor.
• Very few people were familiar with the federal agency known as FEMA.
• Donald Trump announced that the Trump Tower would be built in the city. (That ultimate failure would have more to do with the national economy than Katrina.)
• Approval of Federal City, a military complex on the Westbank, was announced.
• Huey Long’s birthday was celebrated at the Fairmont, which was the former Roosevelt. (Now the Roosevelt is the former Fairmont.)
• Orleans Parish’s public school system was a failure and overwhelmed with pockets of corruption.
• Large parts of the population lived in run-down public housing projects.
• Arnold Fielkow was a little-known Saints vice president.
• Jim Haslett was the coach and Aaron Brooks was the quarterback as the Saints limped through preseason.
• The local movie industry was rapidly growing.
• Local levee boards helped maintain lake levees.
• Hibernia bank was still called by that name and had branches throughout the state.
• Cruise ship business was expanding.
• We could watch sunsets at West End and Bucktown while dining at Brunings and Sid-Mars.
• In popular language, pre-K still stood for “before kindergarten” rather than “before Katrina.”
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival- Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 895-2266)
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M. ON WYES-TV, CHANNEL 12. NOW ON WIST RADIO, 690 AM, THE ERROL LABORDE SHOW, 8 A.M. AND 5 P.M. SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS AND 6 P.M. MONDAYS.