Letter from a Birmingham Jail: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms..." [mlkonline]

Guide to Catching the Inauguration from Anywhere: [LifeHacker]

Accidental Maps: [StrangeMaps]

Town Center's Urban Planning Bumps into Wal-Mart: "Eden Prairie envisions a new "town center'' in its future, and Wal-Mart -- to the company's dismay -- has a store right in the middle of it." [Minn-St Paul Star Tribune]

Superb Idea: Bike Lane that Travels With You: "The system projects a virtual bike lane (using lasers!) on the ground around the cyclists, providing drivers with a recognizable boundary they can easily avoid. The idea is to allow riders to take safety into their own hands, rather than leaving it to the city." [Good]

Pneumatic Post in Paris: "Introduced to combat the shortcomings of the telegraphic network in Paris, the subterranean Poste Pneumatique (Pneumatic Post) moved written telegraph messages from 1866 until 1984. The pneumatic tube network relieved the saturated telegraph network, delivering physical messages across the city and to the suburbs faster and more reliably than the telegraph." [active social plastic]

What Will Save the Suburbs?: "The problem now isn’t really how to better design homes and communities, but rather what are we going to do with all the homes and communities we’re left with." [New York Times]

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.

My Historic Washington: Southwest

Posted on: January 19th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

For some reason, I always knew I wanted to live in Washington, D.C. It was probably my early interest in politics that brought me here or maybe it was a sense of needing to move to a big city that wasn’t too big. Either way, in August of 2003, I found myself renting a house in American University Park, which is located in Northwest near Tenleytown. Its a wonderful neighborhood, designed and developed in the 1920s, with lots of families and beautiful historic houses. It was a great place to start out in Washington because it offered not only the small neighborhood feel I was accustom to but also a great deal of accessibility to other areas of the city via the metro. The Tenleytown Historical Society has an excellent series of photographs and background information on Tenleytown if you’re interested in reading more on this area.

After living in Washington for two years, I knew that I wanted to call this place my home. I still find it hard to describe why I feel at home here, but I do. In 2005 I decided it was time to begin the house hunting process. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best time to be looking for houses since it was the peak of the housing bubble and affordable housing, already limited in D.C., was even harder to find. While I love the more traditional historic districts like Logan Circle and Capitol Hill, I was drawn to Southwest where housing was somewhat more affordable, and to my surprise, the neighborhood was distinctively different.

River Park, Designed by Charles Goodman

River Park, Designed by Charles Goodman (Photo: Ross Bradford)

I’ll never forget the first time my realtor took me to Southwest. I visited a cooperative known as River Park. As we drove through the neighborhood I quickly realized this place was like no other in the city. Filled with an abundance of mid-century architecture, I was quickly captivated by the area. It had a totally different feel from other places, due in part to a radical and controversial urban renewal plan that occurred in the 1950s which brought in architects such as I.M. Pei, Harry Weese, Marcel Breuer, Charles Goodman, and Chloethiel Woodard Smith to design open space areas, federal office buildings, and residential housing complexes.

Southwest’s story doesn’t begin in the 1950s; instead, it begins as early as the late 1700s with one of the city’s oldest sets of buildings, known as Wheat Row, and Fort McNair. The area slowly developed into a thriving residential neighborhood for both African-Americans and European immigrants during the turn of the 20th century. Like other residential areas in the district, Southwest’s streets were lined with rowhouses of varying sizes. Over time, however, overcrowding in the area led to deteriorating housing conditions and the construction of numerous alley dwellings. In the 1950s Congress and city planners decided that Southwest should undergo a huge transformation, which resulted in the eviction of the area’s residents and the demolition of most of the buildings. While the displacement of the area’s residents and the loss of community that occurred in this area was devastating, it’s an important part of my neighborhood’s history that shouldn’t be overlooked or forgotten.

Maine Avenue Fish Market (Photo: Ross Bradford)

Maine Avenue Fish Market (Photo: Ross Bradford)

With the expansive redevelopment underway, only a few historic buildings were saved, these include Wheat Row, the Thomas Law House, Saint Dominic’s Church, and selected row houses on Half Street. The Maine Avenue Fish Market has also survived, in one form or another, since the early 1800s. Aside from these destination points, there are a variety of interesting mid-century housing developments, like Tiber Island and River Park, and the L’Enfant Promenade, which also includes a park dedicated to Benjamin Banneker.

Southwest Waterfront (Photo: Ross Bradford)

Southwest Waterfront (Photo: Ross Bradford)

As the first decade of the 21st century quickly approaches its end, Southwest is again experiencing another renewal with the nearby construction of the National’s baseball stadium and a second redevelopment of the Waterfront area, both are attempts to make this area a destination point for visitors and residents. As these plans move forward, it’s important that that the area’s history is not forgotten, but it’s also equally important that we protect and preserve the community that developed over the last fifty years.

Benjamin Banneker Park (Photo: Ross Bradford)

Benjamin Banneker Park (Photo: Ross Bradford)

I hope you’ll take some time to visit Southwest; it’s included in Cultural Tourism DC’s Neighborhood Heritage Trail system.  A map of the trail, which is lined with poster-sized street signs telling the neighborhood’s story is available along with a walking tour brochure.

-- Ross Bradford

Ross Bradford is an Assistant General Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Stay tuned leading up to the inauguration as more National Trust staffers share their stories about the greater D.C. area. Coming to town for the historic event? Be sure to visit our new Preservationist’s Guide to Washington.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

World Trade Center Model to Get New Home

Posted on: January 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Tthe last authentic 3-dimensional representation of the World Trade Center complex. (Photo: Lee Stalworth)

The last authentic 3-dimensional representation of the World Trade Center complex. (Photo: Lee Stalworth)

This past week, the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) announced it will loan its iconic architectural model of the World Trade Center to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. This original presentation model was built by the office of project architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986) between 1969 and 1971 to provide the Port Authorities of New York and New Jersey a to-scale sense of the planned project. It is the last authentic 3-dimensional representation of the World Trade Center complex—the only other that remained was on display at the bottom of the Towers and destroyed with the buildings. Like most architectural models, it was not built with the intention of a permanent existence, but rather, to temporarily illustrate the scope of Yamasaki’s controversial yet extraordinary architectural and engineering feat. This model, more than any other, symbolizes the skyscraper, a building style indigenous to America-- but while architecturally and historically valuable on its own merit, its significance and symbolic importance dramatically increased following the events of 9/11.

The Memorial and Museum will remember and honor those who perished in the horrific attacks of 1993 and 2001. Through a sensitive presentation of artifacts and intimate stories of loss, compassion, recovery and reckoning, it will communicate key messages to tell the story of September 11th and its aftermath. When the museum opens in 2012, the World Trade Center model will be an integral component and serve as a visual reminder and emotional symbol for all people and nations around the world of the tragedy that occurred on 9/11.

Like historic photographs, drawings and scrapbooks, architectural records are an important part of America’s historic legacy. They help trace the architectural development of our nation’s cities and towns, and reflect contributions of American ingenuity, creativity and innovation. This World Trade Center model is huge. Measuring eight feet by ten feet at the base, with the twin towers rising over seven feet high, it vividly demonstrates the sheer size and mass of the original site. Built to accurately resemble the towers, every detail was considered. The model was even painted with a special gloss to produce a shiny appearance and illustrate the towers’ extraordinary and unique cladding system. Primarily made of wood, plaster, plastic and paper, tiny, finely crafted pieces were cast from specially designed and milled brass molds and injected with special plastics. Each piece was designed to fit a specific area and was individually painted and affixed by hand. The model is testimony to the extraordinary talent and craftsmanship of the art of model fabrication thirty years ago.

... 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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

My Historic Washington: Anacostia

Posted on: January 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

Greetings From Anacostia: Our Postcard View of the Capitol and the National Mall

I have lived in the D.C. area for over eight years, but I am still a newbie to Anacostia.

If you are at all familiar with the District and its many neighborhoods, you probably know that a raised eyebrow and a look of disbelief is a common reaction when you hear someone say, "I just moved to Anacostia." However, as someone new to the area, I am proud to report that those reactions are finally changing. Now I get, "Oh, really great things are happening there," or "Good for you, very smart investment."

It would be dishonest of me to pretend like these promising predictions did not factor into my decision-making process before purchasing a home here with my partner. But truth be told, there are many great reasons to consider making Anacostia your home or at least a stop on your tour of Washington. Here are just four of them:

  1. The View: Most of Anacostia is situated on high ground, affording us some of the best views of Washington. In fact, the photo above was taken on my own roof-top deck.
  2. The Neighborhood: My neighbors - young and old - always look me in the eye as I walk to the Metro and take a moment to say "hello" or "good morning." That's not something you get in other neighborhoods.
  3. The Green Space: Anacostia is full of parkland, bike trails and recreation areas.
  4. The Sense of Place: There is a sense here of being a part of history as it is taking place, a progression of positive growth and renewal for a historic community. Check out our riverfront project at Poplar Point to see for yourself.

So, if you are like many of my D.C. friends who comment that they haven’t been to Anacostia since they took that "wrong turn a few years ago," please consider taking another look. We have a blossoming Main Street program, the historic Fredrick Douglass House, the Honfleur Art Gallery (a project of ARCH, a community-based non-profit in Anacostia) and the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum.

I am proud to call Anacostia home because I am part of a neighborhood that is looking to the future for the positive, sustainable growth that will give our overlooked gem its chance to shine.

– Lisa Turgeon-Williams

Lisa Turgeon-Williams is the manager of product development for National Trust Tours. Stay tuned leading up to the inauguration as more National Trust staffers share their stories about the greater D.C. area. Coming to town for the historic event? Be sure to visit our new Preservationist’s Guide to Washington.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Lincoln Sculpture Model is En Route to Washington

Posted on: January 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Two of the models of Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French. The larger of the two will be on loan to the National Gallery of Art.

Two of the models of Lincoln sculpted by Daniel Chester French. The larger of the two will be on loan to the National Gallery of Art.

Take out a five dollar bill and you’ll see one of the most iconic buildings in America depicted on the back: the Lincoln Memorial. Each year, more than four million visitors make the pilgrimage to the Memorial in Washington, DC, walking along the reflecting pool and up a great flight of stairs into an immense temple. There, they confront an enormous seated marble figure who radiates dignity and wisdom. Now this is a place that matters.

For the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the National Gallery of Art will open a special exhibit on this building on February 12. Designing the Lincoln Memorial: Daniel Chester French and Henry Bacon will explore the making of the statue and the Memorial, the careers of sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon, and the role the Lincoln Memorial has played in American life. On loan from Chesterwood, a National Trust Historic Site owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will be the six-foot high plaster final model of the statue. This is only the second time this model has been allowed to travel from the site. Even though it comes apart in seven pieces, it’s still big and fragile so a special crew from the National Gallery of Art will crate and transport the sculpture from Massachusetts to Washington, DC. Along with this exhibit, the enormous gilt Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment by Augustus Saint-Gaudens (French’s contemporary) and the American paintings galleries are returning to public view after nearly two years of renovations. (Read the full release on the loan of the sculpture.)

This year will be a great one to visit Washington, DC, but do visit Chesterwood in western Massachusetts during the summer. Daniel Chester French chose the site for the views and it continues to be a very special place, especially in combination with his home and studio filled with his sculpture, a contemporary sculpture show on the grounds, formal gardens, and woodlands. The place has hardly changed—the road in front is still unpaved!

Here are my suggestions for a nice long weekend in Stockbridge, Massachusetts: visit Chesterwood, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and Naumkeag to get your fill of art and architecture; walk around downtown to enjoy an historic Main Street (Lightworks Arts and Crafts Gallery is topnotch, the First Congregational Church is wonderfully rustic, and the stone horse trough that survives is charming); and finally have a great dinner at the Red Lion Inn (and a good place to stay as well: it’s a Historic Hotel of America). If you’re a food lover, look for Berkshire Blue cheese at a local market—it’s among the best I’ve tasted.

-- Max van Balgooy

Max van Balgooy is the director of interpretation and education for National Trust Historic Sites.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.