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La pyramide du Louvre (The Louvre Pyramid) rises from Cour Napoléon in central courtyard of Musée du Louvre. Credit: wallyg, flickr
La pyramide du Louvre (The Louvre Pyramid) rises from Cour Napoléon in the central courtyard of Musée du Louvre.

I recently spotted this great piece about re-reading books that we loved. Author Guy Gavriel Kay says, “There's an anxiety I feel when picking up a book I loved when young, preparing to read it again. I think it has to do with how we define ourselves, in part, by what we've loved. Books (not only books, of course) that reach deeply into us at twelve or seventeen or twenty-two shape the person we see ourselves as being.”

Substitute “book” with “historic places,” and his words still resonate. Some of my first experiences with history went hand-in-hand with family vacations. We would always take a two-three day stop in a European city on our way to Mumbai, or embark on road trips around the United States. I know for other people that these memories sprouted from post-college graduation escapes, the last summer before work and life kicked in. These were the trips that helped fashion our opinions about the world beyond the comfort of our hometowns.

But what if you had a chance to go back?... Read More →

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.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

 

New York Hall of Science. Credit: bondidwhat, flickr
New York Hall of Science

February is an admirable month. Long past the tinkle of holiday cheer, it encourages gatherings near the hearth, warm drinks in hand, with vistas of hibernating landscapes and stillness. Yet it can feel hum-drum, too; long past the eagerness of a New Year, it becomes a revolving door of sleep, work, eat, sleep.

Thankfully, my February wasn’t completely devoid of historical inspiration:... Read More →

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.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

My Preservation Resolution: Build the Movement in 2013

Posted on: January 4th, 2013 by Priya Chhaya 2 Comments

 

Shutterbug series at Central Terminal, Buffalo, NY. Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Local preservationists at Buffalo's Central Terminal.

Observation: This is my fourth year putting pen to paper to map out my annual goals (see 2010, 2011, and 2012), and I’ve noticed that as the years go by, my list gets less specific.

Look at last year’s resolution, for example:

My 2012 Preservation Resolution is to not back down, to be inventive, to be engaged, and to look outside every box to find workable solutions in a challenging environment. For 2012 I vow to make connections and find tools that will allow preservationists to be all that they can be -- to turn opportunity into something tangible.

It could be that my resolutions are increasingly aspirational, and thus a little broader. But to look at it another way, my resolutions increasingly commit me to taking a stand, to changing minds and changing hearts -- not just with one action, but with a whole year of actions, one at a time.... Read More →

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.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

Putting the Puzzle Together: Reflections on Travel in Seattle

Posted on: November 21st, 2012 by Priya Chhaya 1 Comment

 


Seen on the Seattle Underground tour.

A metaphor I often use when talking about the past is that of a puzzle. Getting to know the whole picture of place means fitting together a number of disparate pieces that when snapped together give you a single picture -- a snapshot in time that is one in a series that make up the past.

I also approach visiting new cities through this lens. A few weeks ago as a prelude to my visit to Spokane for the National Preservation Conference, I went to Seattle to visit with some friends and family. What I ended up doing was not just visiting to a popular tourist destination but also getting a sense of the place itself.

I started, in a sense, with the history. On the recommendation of many people, I took the Seattle Underground tour where I gained a sense of a city that changed after a disastrous fire. Following the fire, the city was raised about 15 feet, creating subterranean passages with skylights that filtered in light from the sidewalk above. Piece 1.


Exhibit at the Chihuly Gardens and Glass Exhibition.

Pushing forward in time, I spent a few hours at Seattle Center, home of the 1962 World's Fair. I took the obligatory ride up the Space Needle where, like at any high point in a city, I gained a visual sense of the city’s geography -- water and land, ships and sky. Piece 2.

The cool thing about Seattle Center is that it is also a mecca of museums. Science. Art. Music. Pop culture. There is something here to feed all matter of interests. Luckily, for a few extra bucks, my ticket up the Space Needle also came with entry into the Chihuly Gardens and Glass exhibition next door. Now for those of you who aren't familiar with Dale Chihuly's work, it’s … phenomenal. His work with glass is indescribable -- the shapes, the colors -- and you can tell that he takes some of his inspiration from Washington state itself, from sea life to Native American baskets. Piece 3.


Seattle EMP Museum.

After a tour of the Icons of Science Fiction exhibition at the EMP Museum (designed by Frank Gehry) I stepped into even more recent history -- a narrative about the band Nirvana. Amidst their story is a broader examination of the DIY music movement. Using its extensive collection of sound samples, the exhibition talks about the role of Seattle and Washington State in the alternative music scene -- letting visitors listen to a wide array of predecessors to Nirvana, other bands that were contemporary to the band, and those that Nirvana influenced. Piece 4.

I took a walk around the neighborhood wandering through Pike Place Market, the Seattle Public Library, and Pioneer Square. The library alone intimated a city filled with creativity; the Market and Pioneer Square were fixtures of a community. Piece 5.

And finally, by staying in the suburbs I got an idea of the role Microsoft and Boeing play in the region’s economy. Seeing the planes being put together -- wing, engine, tail, body -- provided one more example about how pieces come together into a cohesive whole. Piece 6.

As I rode the train to Spokane, I thought about the city I experienced and saw each of these six pieces came together into a single snapshot. As visitors to a city, our visions of what that place is and what's important in that space depends on the connections we forge. Being able to see the magic of Chihuly next to the vibrations of Smells Like Teen Spirit while smelling the fish and eating doughnuts in the market gave me a picture of a place that I won't forget. This was my Seattle.

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.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

Tonight: National Preservation Conference Kicks Off in Spokane!

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Priya Chhaya

 

This post is adapted from the Preservation Leadership Forum blog. Follow along there for daily recaps of all conference activities!

Happy Halloween! Most of the staff today has embraced the holiday and turned out in shades of red, orange and black. But there is an even bigger event going on today -- the kick-off of the National Preservation Conference in Spokane!... Read More →

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.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.