A blog for the Bloomingdale neighborhood in Washington, DC.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
CityLab: "Why Historic Preservation Districts Are Crucial to Cities"
Click on the link to read the entire CityLab article.
Stephanie Meeks' CityLab post below is in response to an earlier CityLab post by Kriston Capps, which was posted
at the Bloomingdale Neighborhood blog.
Why Historic Preservation Districts Are
Crucial to Cities
Historic neighborhoods provide benefits to everyone, not just homeowners.
2:58 PM ET
All across America, from Cleveland and Buffalo to Portland and Pittsburgh, people from all walks of life—led by the young, diverse, millennial generation—are choosing to live, work, and play in historic neighborhoods. When asked why they moved to these areas, residents often talk about the desire to live somewhere
, to be
They want things like windows that open, exposed brick, and walkable communities, and continually use words like
to describe what they are looking for. In short, many Americans today want their homes and workplaces to be unique and distinctive—exactly the kind of distinctiveness, character, and sense of place that historic preservation districts provide.
Indeed, historic preservation districts provide benefits to people, whether or not they actually own a home in them. In New York’s Lower East Side, for example, millions of people visit annually to experience a remarkably intact 19th century tenement neighborhood. In Chicago, the annual Historic Pullman Community house tour is among the most popular residential house tours in Illinois, providing a glimpse into the lives of workers in George Pullman’s planned community. These places and thousands of others—from the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District in Minneapolis, to the Harvard-Belmont Historic District in Seattle—provide more than just housing for current residents. They also serve as living history lessons, and tangible reminders of a city’s past. They connect us across time to those who came before us.
recent CityLab article
largely glosses over these attributes of historic districts, focusing instead on the suggestion that historic preservation districts are to blame for the affordable housing crisis that many U.S. cities are now facing, mainly because, the article suggests, they thwart attempts to achieve denser neighborhoods that can provide housing for more people. While this is a common view among a certain subset of urban economists, it is also deeply flawed, for a number of reasons.
Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale
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