Founded in 2001, The Urban Conservancy is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education and advocacy that promote the wise stewardship of the urban built environment and local economies.
The Urban Conservancy began as a plea for a serious discussion of the responsibilities of wise stewardship of New Orleans’ unique built environment.
The single greatest resource New Orleans possesses is the historic urban fabric of the city. This irreplaceable (but renewable) asset is the source of our unique culture, cuisine, music and celebrations. This urban fabric is what brings artists and tourists alike and it is what nourishes each during their stay.
Today this urban fabric is also the economic engine driving our tourism-based economy. The architecture, the vibrant neighborhoods, the corner groceries, restaurants and bars provide tourists with a genuine sense of what has been lost across much of modern America. They return to New Orleans year after year because they do not have these neighborhoods back home. For those fortunate enough to live in the city, the historic built environment offers a quality of life that has never existed in the sterile suburban experiment of the post-World War II era.
Unfortunately, the urban fabric that nurtures and nourishes our culture and that has survived remarkably intact for several centuries is in danger of being destroyed by the introduction of incompatible suburban-style developments. The problem is real even while the nature and virulence of the threat it is difficult to comprehend.
New Orleans has reached a critical point in its development. Residents, businesses and political leaders need to decide if this city will maintain its historic urban character or if it will embrace a suburban mentality that will undermine and eventually destroy the existing fabric of the city. This is an important decision and one that should be made consciously rather than by default to popular trends in the development and retail industries.
The Urban Conservancy believes that maintaining the historic urban fabric of New Orleans is in the best interest of all New Orleanians. This urban environment provides the base for a strong and resilient local economy, has the potential to reverse decades of outmigration by attracting young talented individuals to the city, and nurtures local culture, traditions and customs.
The built environment of this city was handed down to this generation as a trust for the future. It is our duty, as the current residents, to exercise wise stewardship of this precious resource until such time as we pass it on to the next generation.