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Discovering Philadelphia's Favorite Places

Posted on: June 27th, 2012 by David Garber

 

If you haven't heard of them already, there's a great organization called Hidden City Philadelphia. Their goal is to highlight the city's unique and under-known special places by connecting them with resources in order to activate them in new and interesting ways.

As self-described on their site, "Hidden City is about transforming that innate, childlike sense of wonder that we all have into inspiration, ideas, and social action around place, making our urban environment a more vibrant, productive, and desirable place to live, work, and play."

This idea is translatable across all cities and towns -- and as much as I could write about all sorts of great things that Hidden City is putting on and getting together (hmm ... sounds like a great idea for an interview), I wanted to call attention to a series of videos they're creating called "My Favorite Place." Check out a couple of the videos below, or click through to see the entire set.

What are your favorite places in the city, town, or countryside that you call home? Are there places out there that people don't know enough about now that could use some creative marketing? Let us know in the comments!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: Demolition Edition

Posted on: June 25th, 2012 by David Garber 1 Comment

 

Did we hook you with that title? As our regular readers know, we at the National Trust are absolutely not in the business of condoning demolition. So we couldn't help but notice the provocatively titled 25 Buildings to Demolish Right Now list put out by California Home + Design last week.

Take a look at the list -- and the other articles we share today -- and let us know: What do you think could be done with these sites (particularly the historic ones)?


The Geisel Library at University of California San Diego made California Home + Design's list of "25 Buildings to Demolish Right Now." Those are some dramatic angles!

25 Buildings to Demolish Right Now -- California Home + Design

"When proportion, balance, form and function come together in a delicate harmony, architecture is nothing short of an art form. But when, on occasion, those principles clash, the results can be eye-searingly awful. We asked 15 architects and our own staff to weigh-in on what buildings, given the chance, they'd take a wrecking ball to."

The Real High Line Effect: A Transformational Triumph of Preservation and Design -- The Huffington Post

"The success of New York's High Line -- a stretch of abandoned elevated railroad on New York's West Side that has undergone a Phoenix-like resurrection to become one of the city's most popular destinations -- has generated much conversation about the so-called "High Line effect." Several cities are looking at their own long-disused sections of track, hoping they can literally replicate New York's success. Perhaps, but that narrow interpretation ignores the confluence of unique factors that made New York's High Line an instant classic."

Revitalizing Neighborhoods: Over-the-Rhine -- Metro Jacksonville

"Metro Jacksonville visits what is believed to be the largest most intact urban historic district in the United States: Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine. [...] What's slowly taking place in Over-the-Rhine indicates that when a city invests in itself and quality-of-life, privately financed market rate development tends to follow."

Renovated, Repurposed Buildings in Massachusetts -- Boston.com

"Boston is well-known as a historical city -- the Cradle of Liberty produced some sturdy buildings. If one goes into disrepair, there are numerous restoration societies that aim to keep the city's historic buildings up and running. Here’s a look at some of Boston's renovated and repurposed buildings where the outside is the same, but the inside is very different."

Texan Lighthouses a Preservation of History -- Galveston Daily News

"Mention the state of Texas and it brings to mind barbecue, the Alamo, football, real cowboys, longhorns, spring break, astronauts, big hats and lighthouses. Lighthouses? Maine and North Carolina have lighthouses, but Texas? The truth is that about 90 lighthouses and lightships have dotted the Texas coast through the years, guiding mariners through barrier island gaps into thriving ports at Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Indianola, Galveston, Houston and Beaumont."

 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

 

As a social network, Twitter is a celebration of real-time human experience. It's ephemeral: Messages come and go as the Twitter feed updates, and news and messages sink to the bottom of the screen -- and the reader's consciousness -- within a matter of seconds. The social media network seems to be built on the idea that what's happening is valued above what happened, and that new is more important and relevant than old.


The planted roof deck of Twitter's new headquarters inside the 1939 Merchandise Mart building.

Which is why Twitter's real-life move to the 1939 Art Deco San Francisco Merchandise Mart building in the city's up-and-coming Mid-Market neighborhood, instead of something more UFO-like in the middle of Silicon Valley (see Apple's proposed new headquarters), is a pleasant surprise. With the move, Twitter is helping to prove that being on the cutting edge doesn't have to mean "out with the old," and that where we've been -- architecturally, historically -- is as relevant as where we're going.

According to Ed Axelsen, Twitter's Director of Facilities:

"A revitalized building like SF Mart offered Twitter several key advantages: it's centrally located for public transportation; the building has lots of light, it has huge floor plates, it offered the possibility of outdoor space; and perhaps most appealing, it's an historic building that is being revitalized for modern use."

Check out their new old building in the slideshow below. As you can see, they've adapted the interior to fit their brand -- dynamic, fun, and innovative --  while acknowledging the critical importance of urban and historic context for moving modern communication, their company, and this corner of San Francisco forward.

(All photos by Troy Holden / @Twitter on Flickr)

Editor's note: This seems as good a time as ever to remind you that, yes, the National Trust is on Twitter! Follow us at @PresNation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Preservation Round-Up: Mini Golf Edition

Posted on: June 18th, 2012 by David Garber

 

Myrtle Beach Says Goodbye to Historic Inn, Will Be Replaced by Mini Golf and Restaurant -- Myrtle Beach Online

"The Chesterfield Inn -- a quaint, three-story brick building that has stood on the oceanfront at Seventh Avenue North since the 1940s, with earlier versions dating back even further -- has outlived its time as a go-to place to stay, its owners say, overshadowed by the trendy high-rises with modern amenities such as lazy rivers and in-room kitchens that weren’t even thought of during the Chesterfield’s heyday."

Saving a Rosenwald School -- CNN

"The little white building with tall windows is off a main road, miles from the busier patches of town. This was the school where Marian Coleman sang nursery rhymes, the same school where her parents met when they were just kids. For about 30 years, any black child in this northwest Georgia community came here to learn to read and write, to understand math, geography and health. They shared books, brought their own lunches and shared those, too."

Transforming Historic Buildings into Magnets for Future Growth -- BuffaloNews.com

"Renovation of historic buildings is gaining momentum in downtown Buffalo, as derelict buildings like the AM&A warehouse, Hotel Lafayette and others are revived by developers to meet demand for innovative living and office space."

Yorkville Bank, Three Firehouses and Two Hotels Are City's Newest Landmarks -- DNAinfo.com New York

"All six structures, built in the early 20th century were named new landmarks on Tuesday for their architectural distinction and significant roles they played in the rapidly growing metropolis shortly after the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. "All of these buildings illustrate how far New York City had come by the start of the 20th century and signaled the promising direction in which it was headed," Commission Chairman Robert Tierney said in a statement."

Saying Farewell to The Georgetown, a Boat With a 'Soul' -- Georgetown Patch

"NPS, which operates the C&O Canal and its historic outreach programs, determined that repairs to the mule-drawn 1870's replica boat would be "cost prohibitive," according to John Noel, a regional spokesperson for the agency."

Ford School moved to its old home in McHenry County -- Chicago Tribune

"The building, which replaced an even older schoolhouse on the site, stopped functioning as a school in 1938. Andreas' husband, Weldon, was the last teacher there, and their son Duane, now 78, recalled playing under his dad's desk at the school when he was 4. In the 1940s, a farmer bought the structure for $250 and moved it a few blocks west, where it was used as housing for migrant workers. Later it became a private home and, most recently, an office for a nursery business that shut down about three years ago."

Want a Lighthouse? -- Maine Morning Sentinel

"The federal government wants to give away two historic Maine lighthouses -- but not to just anyone. Agencies interested in owning Boon Island Light Station, off York, or Halfway Rock Light Station, off Harpswell, must be committed to preserving the structures' historical integrity and willing to try to make the islands they are located on accessible to the public, said Patrick Sclafani, spokesman for the U.S. General Services Administration in Boston."

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

 

Nikki Giovanni is a widely-read American poet, equality activist, professor of English at Virginia Tech, and the keynote speaker at this week's National Rosenwald Schools Conference. Built over the past 45 years, her collection of poetry is some of the most influential on issues of black American culture and experience.

We are excited for her to lend her voice to the issue of preserving the Rosenwald Schools -- the 4,977 mostly humble buildings paid for by businessman-turned-philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and built by community members throughout 15 states between 1912 and 1932, specifically to educate black children.


Left: A Mural of Giovanni's "Revolutionary Dreams" poem on 113th Street in Los Angeles.

I had the opportunity to ask Nikki Giovanni some questions leading up to her time at the conference. Take a look below, then tune in on Twitter on Saturday, June 16, at 10:30 a.m. CDT, where we'll live-tweet her plenary session from our @PresNationLive account.

What were your first feelings or takeaways after learning about the history of the Rosenwald Schools?

As a history major at Fisk University I was, of course, aware of the Rosenwald Schools and their marvelous history.  I remember thinking how wonderful that people reached out to help the newly freed folk who had the desire and the talent but were not given the tools.  I consider the Rosenwald schools right up there with the Carnegie Libraries:  something needed to help those who had been denied not just an education but a personhood to begin to emerge from the shadows.

What do you find most compelling about the schools?

The most compelling aspect is still the correct reason: a people without access to education cannot go forward.  The Sears/Roebuck family [Julius Rosenwald was the president of Sears until 1924] were terrific partners as many in the black community felt that Roebuck was a black American and was simply giving back to those who had helped him.

The Rosenwald Schools are important, but off the radar for many Americans. What actions do you think would better get them into the public eye?

A lot of black history is off radar, as is a lot of white history.  Why do we have classic films of gangsters but not union workers?  Why does every kid in America know Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Billy the Kid and any other robber and thief but not A. Phillip Randolph and the great story of the Pullman Porters? The only cure for ignorance and hatred is education and truth.  Words are as meaningful as places.

Who or what do you hope the Rosenwald Schools inspire?

I hope these schools remind us what our ancestors have endured to bring us this far.  It has been a good journey, but we still have a ways to go.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.