• Climate Change and City Hall
  • Volume 15 Number 1
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

SpAM: Modeling Population Settlement Patterns Using a Density Function Approach: New Orleans Before and After Hurricane Katrina

Fahui Wang, Weijie Wang, Louisiana State University


SpAM (Spatial Analysis and Methods) presents short articles on the use of spatial statistical techniques for housing or urban development research. Through this department of Cityscape, the Office of Policy Development and Research introduces readers to the use of emerging spatial data analysis methods or techniques for measuring geographic relationships in research data. Researchers increasingly use these new techniques to enhance their understanding of urban patterns but often do not have access to short demonstration articles for applied guidance. If you have an idea for an article of no more than 3,000 words presenting an applied spatial data analysis method or technique, please send a one-paragraph abstract to ronald.e.wilson@hud.gov for review.


Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had an estimated population of 454,863. More than 400,000 residents were displaced by the hurricane (Geaghan, 2011). After several years of recovery, the 2010 census reported a population of 343,829, that is, a decline of nearly 25 percent. The population change provides a glimpse of the effect Hurricane Katrina had in terms of population loss and its potential for reshaping the urban structure of the metropolitan area. Using 2000 and 2010 tract-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we model changes of population settlement patterns in New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina with a density function approach to determine if New Orleans has become a more polycentric city.

Previous Article