Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize by Andrew Hurley

By Andrew Hurley

Around the usa, ancient maintenance has turn into a catalyst for city regeneration. marketers, city pioneers, and veteran urban dwellers have refurbished millions of dilapidated homes and positioned them to efficient use as retailers, eating places, nightclubs, museums, and personal apartments. therefore, inner-cities, as soon as disparaged as zones of poverty, crime, and rot were re-branded as ancient districts. even supposing those renovation projects, frequently supported by way of executive tax incentives and inflexible architectural controls, deserve credits for bringing humans again to the town, elevating estate values, and producing vacationer profit, they've been much less profitable in developing good and harmonious groups. past protection proposes a framework for stabilizing and strengthening inner-city neighborhoods in the course of the public interpretation of ancient landscapes. Its crucial argument is that inner-city groups can top flip preserved landscapes into resources via subjecting them to public interpretation on the grass-roots. in line with an exam of profitable initiatives in St. Louis, Missouri and different U.S. towns, Andrew Hurley demonstrates how rigorous historic research may also help groups articulate a neighborhood id and plan intelligently at the foundation of current cultural and social resources.

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More important, the War on Poverty bequeathed an organi zational framework that urban minorities and the poor continued to employ when defending their interest at the grass roots. The failure of preservationists to reconcile their goals with the needs of poorer residents guaranteed confrontation. The Over-the-Rhine district of Cincinnati is probably the most welldocumented case of effective resistance to preservation-based revitalization among lower-income populations. Once a largely German working-class neighborhood with a smattering of Italian immigrants, it underwent a dramatic population transition after World War II.

As long as there was money to be made in preservation and as long as cities clung to the attitude that any preservation worth doing was preservation that paid, it followed that contributing structures were more likely to fall into private hands. Especially in residential neighborhoods where tourism goals were secondary, preservation in the years after 1970 generally entailed the rehabilitation of private homes. While a restored private home and some knowledge about earlier occupants may have allowed owners to feel a greater attachment to their property, it did little to preserve the collective memory of a place.

Yet, in residential districts where historic restoration was employed as a strategy for selling homes, developers often converted third places— stores, meeting halls, and even churches—into private residences, further diminishing the possibility of recovering multiple perspectives on the past and of explaining how communities evolved according to the interaction among people of varying class and ethnic backgrounds. Whether a particular neighborhood developed initially as an elite enclave, a working-class district, or a middle-class suburb, it most likely moved through various stages of development and demographic transition, thereby placing very different populations into contact with one another.

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