Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

David H. Holt

Advisor Department

Geography and Geology


Urban decline, and the developments that trigger a collapse among formerly prosperous cities, is a phenomenon that is capable of leaving a lasting mark on any urban system. The collapse and disintegration of the urban landscape carries a variety of facilitators, and with that, this research sought to examine two distinct representations of urban decline and the populations that shifted in tandem with blight: the New York City fiscal crisis of the 1970s and post-Katrina conditions in New Orleans, Louisiana. Through New York City’s fiscal crisis and the act of condensing a city in hopes of rectifying urban decline, known as planned shrinkage, we see a prime embodiment of urban blight. Alongside the periods of inner city decay are decades of population decline, including a 21% decline in population specifically in the Bronx borough. Such a considerable decline between 1970 and 1980 was likely due to a variety of constituents: uninhabitable housing units, an average of 12,000 arson fires in 1975, and public health setbacks. A representation of blight also took hold in August 2005 when eighty percent of New Orleans, Louisiana was flooded in fifteen to twenty feet of floodwaters during the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Years following the storm, Orleans parish saw a population decline of 29%, likely due to post-Katrina population displacement and flaws in the physical infrastructure. Ultimately, what this research project saw was that there was a strong relationship between population decline and socioeconomic classes in both the Bronx, New York and New Orleans, Louisiana.