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As New Orleans continues to dry out, efforts are underway to reopen the central business district and tourist quarter as soon as possible. The steps send a multiple message: Life goes on, business as usual — and tourists, please come back! It's a heartening message, but one that brings its own caution. Any economy largely dependent on tourism — two thirds of New Orleans' travel business is tourist oriented — runs some risk as tourism trends wax and wane.

As New Orleans begins to rebuild, it'd be wise — as Robbie Vitrano suggested earlier this month — to reconsider all aspects of local life and work. Consider the city from a design perspective. Involve engineers, architects, preservationists, designers, and urban planners. Take this as a chance to preserve the best of what was — while encouraging only the best of what could be. Don't just go back to what was — or make hasty mistakes in the name of quick wins.