New Orleans and the Levees
Description of Papers
In an artist's statement that accompanied the collection upon acquisition in 2016 of photographs she captured in spring 2015, Halverson describes the work:
For many years, much of my work as a photographer has focused on the human relationship to the landscape. Recently, I headed to New Orleans, a city with a unique and precarious relationship to its natural environment. New Orleans sits in a bowl, half of it below sea level, edged by the Mississippi River to the South, wetlands to the West, and large lakes North and East. It is a city that requires a complex system of levees and underground pumps to stay dry. Within a few days of arriving in New Orleans; I decided to photograph the levees themselves, the views they afford, and the people who make use of them.
In 1718, the French established the settlement of New Orleans along a natural levee made up of silt deposited by the Mississippi River. Ever since colonial times, man-made levees, either earthen berms or concrete walls, have been built against the surrounding waters. But the man-made levees also prevent natural silt deposition. As a result, New Orleans is sinking while, at the same time, sea levels are rising due to climate change.
There have been dozens of hurricanes over the centuries, but Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, was epic. Eighty percent of the city was flooded. It is now well established that the design and construction of the levees were seriously flawed. Since Katrina, they have been rebuilt based on computer-generated models of potential storms.
Although the levees are meant for flood control, from early on they also served another purpose. Gentlemen and "free colored courtesans" (Thomas Ashe, Travels in America, 1811) gathered on them in search of fresh air. Today the levees are popular strolling places for the great mix of people who live in or visit New Orleans. From most points in the city, the levees block the view of the Mississippi River. So, a walk along the levee offers not only fresh air and a chance to mingle, but also a look at the business of the river, the huge shipping facilities and oil refineries that line the river's edge and that reflect a significant part of the New Orleans economy. This series of photographs, New Orleans and the Levees, is the result of my stroll along the levees during the spring of 2015.
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Ownership & Copyright
Immediate Source of Acquisition
11.67 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
Karen Halverson (born 1941)
Each folder in the collection contains a single inkjet print.
- Halverson, Karen, 1941-
- Inkjet prints
- Jefferson Parish (La.) -- Pictorial works
- Jefferson Parish (La.) -- Portraits
- Levees -- Louisiana -- Jefferson Parish -- Pictorial works
- Levees -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- Pictorial works
- Levees -- Louisiana -- Orleans Parish -- Pictorial works
- Louisiana -- Pictorial works
- New Orleans (La.) -- Pictorial works
- New Orleans (La.) -- Portraits
- Orleans Parish (La.) -- Pictorial works
- Orleans Parish (La.) -- Portraits
- Halverson, Karen, 1941- (Bookseller)
- Guide to the New Orleans and the Levees
- Matthew Daniel Mason and Ashley Cale
- January 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
- August 2022: Finding aid revised by Matthew Daniel Mason and Ashley Cale to describe the 2022 acquisition.
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