Eleven is the Number for Rebuilding Cities

While I was spending big bux at Whole Foods this week, I added a copy of the Atlantic Monthly to my cart. Inside was a short story called “Cities Rising.” They compared recently demolished New Orleans with other flattened and destroyed cities. Here are some other tales of cities coming back to life.

* Tangshan, China was entirely destroyed in 1976, losing 97 percent of its buildings and 78 percent of its industrial buildings. More than 240,000 of the one million inhabitants died. Within a decade the city was completely rebuilt with drably uniform concrete apartment buildings.

* Galveston, Texas, 1900. With 8000 residents dead, over eleven years the city was raised by as much as seventeen feetand sheltered by a seawall, big enough to cover the incredible sixteen-foot storm surge.

* Warsaw, Poland, 1944. Destroyed by Hitler, 80 percent of the city turned to rubble, and 800,000 of the 1.3 million people died. Within eleven years, it was returned to prewar level of population. But the Soviets never rebuilt any areas with religious ornamentation, and old style buildings replaced with modern ones.

*Chicago, 1871. It took just two years for real estate developers, seizing the fire as a great opportunity, to rebuild whole blocks back. About ten or eleven years later, Chi-town pioneered the vertical city of steel-framed skyscrapers.