Jack Schmitt has mixed feelings about the way that the Pennsylvania Route 28 project turned out. On one hand, the longtime Pittsburgh historic preservation advocate beams when he talks about how he successfully convinced the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to replicate historic Pennsylvania Canal lock stones in a retaining wall in the urban highway corridor. Read More
In January, [email protected] published Heather Carpini’s important essay on competing histories. Carpini’s appeal for historians to dig “deeper, past the obvious sources, into the lives of the people who shaped, and were shaped by, a certain place” is an essential call to action. Read More
This is an exciting and anxiety-producing moment in the United States. It is a time when professional historians are stepping outside their classrooms and consulting practices to push for the removal of Confederate statues and for greater public dialogue about the roles that white supremacy played in the past and how it persists in our communities. Read More
In the 1990s, Silver Spring, Maryland, was desperate for economic investment and an image makeover. Next door to Washington, D.C., the Montgomery County suburb had suffered from two decades of disinvestment and white flight. Once a thriving community with a booming commercial district and sprawling inner-ring suburban neighborhoods, Silver Spring had become blighted by vacant storefronts and empty parking lots. Read More
On July 4, about 60 people attended a party thrown by Washington, DC activists trying to save a historic water filtration plant. The event was held in a row house in the city’s gentrifying Bloomingdale neighborhood, which I wrote about in a recent [email protected] post. Read More
In its infancy, gentrification was a word used to describe changes in urban neighborhoods. Now, gentrification has been documented in suburbs and rural areas around the world. It is even sweeping through Washington, DC’s suburban counties, where farmlands are being converted into housing and mixed-use developments. Read More
Residents of Washington, D.C.’s Bloomingdale neighborhood are using history to plan for the gentrifying area’s future. Through a process of collaborative research and land use planning, they hope to mitigate the adverse effects of displacement, rising housing costs, and the loss of a sense of community. Read More
Gentrification: It’s not just for sociologists and anthropologists any more. Though historians have been making inroads documenting and interpreting gentrification and displacement, there are abundant opportunities for historians to make significant contributions in public policy and planning. One recent kerfuffle involving proposed bicycle lanes and African American churches in Washington, DC, provides a window into how a better understanding of the past could have defused a racially and class charged debate over painted lines in public spaces.
Editor’s note: This post continues a series commemorating the anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act by examining a past article published in The Public Historian, describing its significance and relating it to contemporary conversations in historic preservation.
Between 2011 and 2014, the city of Decatur, Georgia, demolished 200 public housing units built in 1940, under the auspices of slum clearance. Read More
Over the past few years, I have been writing about gentrification and how it intersects with history in an Atlanta, Georgia, suburb. Twenty-five months and more than 50 interviews after I started talking with people and documenting neighborhood change in the Oakhurst area of Decatur, I met playwright Valetta Anderson, who works at Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center. Read More
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