Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


School of Urban Planning and Regional Studies

Major Professor

Gladstone, David

Second Advisor

Villavaso, Stephen

Third Advisor

Haughey, Patrick

Fourth Advisor

Renne, John


Of the many powers granted to federal, state, and local governments through the Constitution of theUnited States, eminent domain is possibly the strongest and most imposing, at least as it relates to citizens’ property rights. This dissertation explores several large-scale public undertakings inNew Orleansduring the period from 1929 to 2011 in which the application of eminent domain was necessary to accomplish the government’s goals. This research window will allow the analysis of eminent domain applications from the construction of the Municipal Auditorium through the new medical center projects spurred by the flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina. This timeframe also allows for evaluation of the interaction between planning inNew Orleansand the City’s exercises of eminent domain. By better understanding the past uses of eminent domain and the goals and policies that drove the exercise of this power, researchers and planning practitioners will be better informed in making decisions that will impact the rebuilding and the future ofNew Orleans.

The specific cases studied as part of this dissertation are: the Municipal Auditorium (Chapter 2); the development of Public Housing (Chapter 3); the Civic Center (Chapter 4), Bridges and Highways (Chapter 5), the Cultural Center (Chapter 6); and the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans and Veterans Administration Medical Center (Chapter 7). The reason for evaluating all types of projects resulting in the use of eminent domain use inNew Orleansis because all have profound impacts on the communities in which this governmental power is exercised.

The primary finding of this dissertation is that the exercise of eminent domain has never been used a principal tool in the implementation of redevelopment proposals in the city ofNew Orleans. All projects throughout the established research period required the use of governmental expropriation authority to complete land acquisition, but in all cases the government’s authority was used conservatively and only when privately negotiated purchases failed.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.