60 Powerful Photos of New Orleans 10 Years After Katrina

Regular readers are likely familiar with the work of photographer Seph Lawless, whose hauntingly gorgeous images of abandoned malls and amusement parks have been regularly featured on the site. In keeping with his interest in forgotten places, Lawless recently paid a visit to New Orleans to document the city, and its people, a full decade after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. The result is a collection of photos that serves as a powerful and poignant testament to a resilient city that, 10 years later, is still recovering from the devastation of the costliest storm in America's history.

More of Lawless’ work can be viewed on his Website, or by following him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.

"Meet Darrick Toney, holding up all 10 fingers representing 10 years of surviving Hurricane Katrina," Lawless says. "After losing family members and close friends to the catastrophe, Darrick was sent to Texas like many others. He would move back after seven years away and now lives back in New Orleans and struggles to assimilate back to his hometown."

The MGM Grand Casino.

Images from a hotel/restaurant 10 years after the flood waters from Katrina.

"The homeless population has risen almost 80 percent since Hurricane Katrina," according to Lawless.

"I witnessed more and more people doing whatever they could to support themselves," says Lawless. "Sometimes not much more than what amounts to setting up a lemonade stand."

Images of abandoned schools.

A forgotten factory.

The Wanderer: "A local transient walks amongst the ruins of a nearby apartment complex littered with clothes and personal belongings," explains Lawless.

"In 1960, several African-Americans' homes were removed to make way for the new highway overpass," Lawless explains. "Today, the overpass serves as gigantic umbrella against the summer sun for the homeless and local transients."

Born from the Great Flood: Twin brothers Donovan and Devon, both 10 years old, "were born in the Lower 9th Ward just days after Hurricane Katrina," Lawless says. "They play near their home at an abandoned house."

Construction of a new home.

The Stairs That Lead Nowhere: "Perhaps the saddest images I've captured were the shots of empty stairs and platforms where houses once stood," Lawless says. "When I approached a group of men sitting on one of these structures in the Lower 9th Ward, a man pointed over to his friend and said 'This used to be his home.' The stairs that lead nowhere can be seen all throughout the most devastated areas of Hurricane Katrina. Sometimes right next to the new homes being built. [It's] a sharp contrast and sobering reminder of a painful transition."

"'The Irony' Street name," Lawless says.


While visiting the Lower 9th Ward, Lawless encountered a "displaced man taking refuge in an abandoned home that has a huge hole in the side of it from where a tree rammed into the house after flood waters devastated the area. The man now fishes and makes the best of his shelter."

We Will Rebuild: "A church offers hope and plans to rebuild 10 years after Katrina," Lawless says.

"'Vote Early' became a slogan after the disaster to encourage people to become more proactive in local government," according to Lawless.

Ten years after being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, this Six Flags amusement park sits eerily abandoned.

The above images are all homes in the Lower 9th Ward, which famously suffered some of the storm's worst damage. "The hardest hit section of the city during Katrina was once the largest area of the city in which African-Americans owned homes," Lawless says.

The Color of Hope: "Even though most of the hardest hit areas of Katrina are open fields and abandoned, several colorful, modern homes designed with solar panels [and] futuristic designs are becoming more prevalent," Lawless says. "Actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie started this movement with community leaders years ago with a promise to rebuild the Lower 9th Ward with affordable housing."

"Finally, I was able to sit down with FEMA's Ryan Mast to get old images of a few places right after Hurricane Katrina," says Lawless of his desire to create some before and after images, like the one of The Wilson School above, or two restored homes below. "I used those photographs to recreate them 10 years later. The same exact locations and shots—just 10 years later."

All images courtesy of Seph Lawless
Original image
Hamilton Broadway
A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
Original image
Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

The Man Who First Made Childbirth Pain-Free

The Wood Library Museum of Anesthesiology in Schaumburg, Illinois—a sprawling exurb of Chicago—is home to an obstetric treasure: a plaster cast of a newborn infant’s head. The bust shows the trauma of birth, the infant's head squeezed to a blunted point. The cast was made on January 19, 1847 by Sir James Y. Simpson in Edinburgh, Scotland, for a very special reason: It commemorates the first time that modern anesthesia was used to ease the pain of childbirth.

Simpson was not only a titled 1st Baronet but a gifted obstetrician. At age 28, he became Professor of Medicine and Midwifery at the University of Edinburgh. Many his senior in the medical community thought Simpson was an upstart—in fact, it's said that his middle name, "Young," was originally a derogatory taunt by his elders. In response to their jeers, Simpson adopted it for good.

Simpson initially used ether as an anesthetic in deliveries, but he soon began looking for an alternative anesthetic because of the gas's "disagreeable and very persistent smell" and the fact that it was irritating to the patients' lungs. His experimentation with chloroform—invented in the United States in 1831 by physician Samuel Guthrie—began in November 1847, with a brandy bottle and some post-dinner party research. The story goes that he presented the filled bottle to his guests to inhale. The next morning, the party were all found on the floor unconscious.

Scholars say this dramatic version of events is likely overblown, but the story illustrates the dangers of discovery. As Simpson's experiments continued, one neighbor and fellow doctor reportedly [PDF] came around to his home at 52 Queen Street every morning "just to inquire if every-one was still alive."

A drawing said to depict the effects of liquid chloroform on James Y. Simpson and his friends.
A drawing said to depict the effects of liquid chloroform on James Y. Simpson and his friends.

Eventually, Simpson got the formulation right with some help from his assistants, who were also local chemists. Over time, the delivery method also improved: Instead of a whiff of fumes from a brandy bottle, doctors developed an apparatus that resembled a glass hookah with long tubes attached to a mask. Later in the century, a soft flannel-covered, metal-handled cup or pouch placed over the nose and mouth of the patient was the preferred delivery method. The doctor—hopefully competent—doled out the anesthetic drop by drop. This method sought to reduce the risk of overdose deaths, which were a significant concern early on.

Simpson was the first to discover the anesthetic properties of chloroform, and soon began to use the drug to help women in labor. The medical community applauded his achievements, as did many women of childbearing age, but some Scottish Calvinists (and members of other religions) were not so happy. Genesis 3:16 was very clear on the matter of women suffering in childbirth as punishment for eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge: "To the woman he said, I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children." For those who took the Bible literally, easing a woman’s pain was anathema.

Some reports from the time describe the divide between medicine and religion on this issue as an all-out revolt, while other accounts claim the religious response to anesthetizing "the curse of Eve" has been overblown by history. In general, it's fair to say the church wasn't thrilled about the use of anesthesia in labor. When Simpson introduced his discovery in 1847, the Scottish Calvinist Church proclaimed it a "Satanic invention." Pregnant women were reportedly warned by preachers: Use this “devilish treatment” and your baby will be denied a baptism.

Simpson disagreed—he didn't think women should have to suffer the pain of childbirth. He made both a scientific and biblical argument for anesthesia during labor. In a pamphlet, Answers to the Religious Objections Advanced Against the Employment of Anaesthetic Agents in Midwifery and Surgery and Obstetrics, Simpson pointed to Genesis and the deep sleep of Adam while his rib was being removed as being evidence "of our Creator himself using means to save poor human nature from the unnecessary endurance of physical pain." He went further, declaring that labor pains were caused by anatomical and biological forces (a small pelvis and a big baby caused uterine contractions)—not a result of the curse of Eve.

Public opinion changed after Queen Victoria took chloroform (applied by Dr. John Snow, famous for his work related to cholera) for the birth of her eighth child, Leopold, in 1853. The queen wrote in her diary: "Dr Snow administered that blessed chloroform and the effect was soothing, quieting and delightful beyond measure." Her final child, Princess Beatrice, was also born with the aid of anesthesia. Clearly, she approved.

Edinburgh is still proud of Simpson and of its special place in the history of anesthesia. From August 16 to 18, 2017, the Edinburgh Anesthesia Research and Education Fund will host the 31st Annual Anesthesia Festival, featuring lectures on anesthesia and pain medicine as well as drinks receptions, a private viewing of a Caravaggio, recitation of the works of Robert Burns (Scotland's most revered poet), and bagpiping.

According to the event website, the past success of the festival has led to moving the whole thing to a larger space to accommodate demand. Apparently there are a great number of people with a passion for medical history—or at least, a great deal of gratitude for the development of anesthesia.


More from mental floss studios