By Kelsey E. Thomas.
Historic preservation activists have long struggled against the field’s negative reputation. Some critics say it’s an avenue for gentrification, only focuses on preserving a narrow, elitist slice of history (i.e. that of those who are wealthy, white and male), or is simply a nostalgic grasp on the past that does not allow for needed growth and revitalization.
In her new book, The Past and Future City: How Historic Preservation Is Reviving America’s Communities, Stephanie Meeks dives into those perceptions in an attempt to prove historic preservation is one of the most important urbanist movements of the time. Meeks is president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which last week released its annual list of endangered “landmarks.” The book speaks directly to issues of displacement, sustainability, inequality, affordable housing and needed employment opportunities. Ultimately, Meeks argues, historic preservation is both a way to save beautiful old buildings and the stories they carry, and to deeply engage with the local community and their concerns and needs.
Here, 10 of the most thought-provoking quotes from the book.