By Ari Kelman
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Additional info for A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans
But his plan for the batture was complicated because he 24 Chapter 1 owned none of the riparian lots in the faubourg. Nonetheless, he reclaimed a portion of the batture in front of the settlement by erecting an artiﬁcial levee to keep approximately four hundred square feet of sediment dry year-round. 6 This plan to reclaim the deposited land seems to have progressed until Gravier attempted to prohibit people from using the St. Mary batture. —suddenly aroused protests from New Orleanians, who, in dry seasons, were accustomed to using the batture for storage, landﬁll, and a promenade.
Chapter 1 A Batture Laid Out for the Particular Use of the Public who owns big muddy ’ s mud+ On May 23, 1807, an audience at the superior courthouse of the Territory of Orleans waited to hear the outcome of the case John Gravier v. Mayor, Aldermen, and Inhabitants of the City of New Orleans. Among the onlookers, three men were especially interested. One of them, Edward Livingston, attorney for the plaintiff and a renowned New York City politician, had arrived in Louisiana just three years earlier.
Finally, New Orleanians, sub- A Batture Laid Out 39 scribing to the era’s medical misconceptions, believed that digging in the city gave rise to murderous epidemics by releasing foul, pestilential vapors into the air. Each of these convictions suggested a cautious approach to improving the waterfront. Livingston took Derbigny’s cue, as he too began publishing pamphlets, evidence entered into New Orleans’s court of public opinion. In December 1807, he responded to Derbigny with a point-by-point rebuttal of the Creole’s arguments.