Getting Back to Abnormal

PBS Premiere: July 14, 2014Check the broadcast schedule »

In Context

By 2010, the city of New Orleans had undergone decades of powerful shifts in size and structure. The overall population of New Orleans has been steadily shrinking, and the 2010 U.S. Census showed that since the previous U.S. Census in 2000 the population had dropped from 484,674 to 343,829. Though the black population dwindled during that time, New Orleans maintained a black majority of approximately 60 percent versus 30 percent for non-Hispanic whites. Poverty remained a major issue for New Orleans in 2010, as more than 27 percent of residents lived below the federal poverty line. In 2010, Mitch Landrieu was elected mayor, making him the first white mayor to hold the position since his father served two terms from 1970 to 1978.

In recent years, and despite the immense challenges the city has faced in recovering from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' population, infrastructure and economic investment have started to rebound. However, Hurricane Katrina left an indelible mark, and many individuals and families can no longer live in the city where they once resided. Eight years after the storm, 90 percent of residents of middle and upper class origin had returned, often to intact homes and communities, while only 30 percent of low-income residents, such as those in the Lower Ninth Ward, were able to come back to their homes. While the population continues to shift in the face of both trial and triumph, the image of New Orleans remains that of a city rich in culture and history. Today, thousands of tourists again flock to the city to celebrate the vibrant traditions that make New Orleans a unique and irreplaceable part of America's culture and history.


» Al Jazeera America. "Eight Years after Hurricane Katrina, Many Evacuees Yet to Return."

» Robertson, Campbell. "Smaller New Orleans After Katrina, Census Shows." The New York Times, February 3, 2011.

» United States Census Bureau. "New Orleans."