Historic Preservation

October 4, 1972

Report Outline
Growing Interest in Saving the Past
Past Efforts in America and Abroad
Focus of Attention on Urban Areas
Special Focus

Growing Interest in Saving the Past

A Growing interest in historic preservation, at a time when many traditional forms and institutions are falling into disrepute, is one of the more curious aspects of present-day American society. Preservation—once the province of an elitist assortment of antiquaries, patriotic societies, ladies' clubs and architecture buffs—is becoming a national movement. No mere ancestor worshippers, today's preservationists see practical benefits in saving the physical ties that bind us to our past. They are reaching out to young people, blacks, environmentalists and those concerned with urban rehabilitation in a broad-based effort to upgrade the quality of contemporary life. At the same time they are developing a hard-nosed realism that all too often eluded the preservationists of the past.

Spearheading the current campaign to make preservation “relevant” is the National Trust for Historic Preservation, an organization that serves as a catalyst for preservation efforts in the United States. The agenda for the Trust's annual meeting, to be held Oct. 26–29 in Washington, D.C., indicates its expansive view of the preservationist's role. Within a theme of “Preservation in the American Political System,” Trust members will address themselves to such diverse issues as the politics of preservation, pollution as it relates to the man-made environment, economics and historic districts, and “preservation for the people,” an exploration of the problems of inner-city preservation in relation to suburban population.

Though the countryside has its preservation problems—commercial encroachment on the Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields are examples—the major focus of concern is now the cities. City preservation has always been uphill work. “In fifth-century Rome ancient buildings were imperiled by men who coveted their columns, marble blocks and sculptured decoration as building materials,” wrote architecture critic Walter Muir Whitehill, director of the Boston Athenaeum.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Historic Preservation
Dec. 06, 2019  The Future of Museums
Jul. 05, 2019  Historic Preservation
Oct. 07, 1994  Historic Preservation
Feb. 10, 1984  Historic Preservation
Oct. 04, 1972  Historic Preservation
Historic Preservation
Regional Planning and Urbanization