Preservation Round-Up: Small Packages Edition

Posted on: November 29th, 2010 by Alex Baca

Atlantic City in miniature (via Flickr user Robert Bruce Murray III).

Good afternoon, Nation! Here’s your Monday Preservation Round-Up, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s twice-weekly digest of preservation news and tidbits from around the country.

Did y'all have a good Thanksgiving? If you'd like a belated look at things worth appreciating, Old House Web's list of things old house owners can be thankful for is a good one. They thank themselves and the Internet, among other things.

More importantly, did y'all have a great, fantastic, totally awesome Small Business Saturday? We posted a whole lot last week about the day, designed to support local businesses that often get trampled by the big boxes during the holidays. It looks like many of the blogs we follow also got in on the fun. Confessions of a Preservationist planned to head to western New York to pick up some Christmas gifts, and this blogger spent the day in Frederick, Maryland and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Now that we've gotten you all interested in supporting your local main street business, you might ask yourself, "What the heck is the United States supposed to do with all those empty shopping mall shells?" Retail Traffic, in "Design Without Borders: Innovative international mall designs set examples for U.S. architects and builders," talks about some cues we could take from abroad.

Meatpacking plants certainly don't sound pretty. But, Historian For Hire makes a compelling case as to why Pittsburgh shouldn't have demolished the Millvale Industrial Park, a former brewery and later, a slaughterhouse: "I moved away from Pittsburgh in 1999. Back then, there were few physical reminders in the landscape of the once fragrant and vibrant livestock and leather industry that made its home along the north side of the Allegheny River. Since then, the Pittsburgh Wool Company building was demolished and the former tannery sites along the Allegheny River north of the sprawling Heinz plant were destroyed to make way for a city-subsidized Heinz expansion that made national news back in 1999 and 2000. And, a few former tannery and slaughterhouse buildings survive in the Spring Garden valley. Now with the demolition of the Millvale Industrial Park buildings, Pittsburgh has lost yet another link to its rich and largely unwritten industrial past." Read more here.

On New Geography, Joel Kotkin (this blogger liked his book, The City, quite a bit) says that smaller cities are the future: "In fact, the era of bigger-is-better is passing as smaller, more nimble urban regions are emerging. These efficient cities, as I call them, provide the amenities of megacities—airports, mass communication, reservoirs of talent—without their grinding congestion, severe social conflicts and other diseconomies of scale." According to Kotkin, "smaller, more nimble urban regions" like Fargo, Raleigh-Durham, and Houston are the future.

Stephen Smith at Market Urbanism argues that preservation should be a tool for development, rather than a hindrance: "So while historical preservation may have its place, it is very shortsighted to use it against developers who want to retain the facade and vast majority of the original structure of a pre-war building...Additions add value to buildings, and this market value is the best way to ensure preservation in a profit-driven society. In its dogmatic opposition to even non-destructive redevelopment, this form of total preservationism is sowing the seeds of its own destruction." Read more here.

Time Tells muses on diversity in public spaces. The Tenement Museum Blog offers some gift suggestions. We (the National Trust for Historic Preservation) really, really want you to save the windows. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is now taking submissions for its 10 most endangered places list. The Architect's Newspaper discovers sustainability doesn't always have to come with a disclaimer about the end of the world.

With that, enjoy your Monday! Got any tips, news, or otherwise preservation-related fluff? We’d love to include it in the next round. Send us your links on Twitter and Facebook, and maybe you’ll see it here next week!

Alex Baca, a senior at the University of Maryland, is an intern in the Online Communications department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and also at the Washington City Paper.

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