Blair Kamin, as usual, puts it best:
Cities are collective works of art, and New Orleans is one of America's masterpieces -- a delectable multicultural gumbo whose value is only more pronounced in a nation where the same stores, banks and malls make every place feel like every other place.
For that reason alone, the much-hyped "should we rebuild New Orleans?" debate is preposterous. Of course we should save New Orleans. To abandon it would be like Italy abandoning Venice. Besides, anybody who sets foot in this town knows that the best parts of New Orleans don't need to be rebuilt. They're still there.
You could hold a Mardi Gras parade tomorrow in the bone-dry French Quarter. The modern office towers and hotels of the central business district, graceless though they are, remain standing, poised to resume their role as hubs of commerce. Some of the city's extraordinary neighborhoods, such as the Garden District, with its white-columned antebellum mansions, came through the storm with little more than downed trees.