Cover image for History in urban places : the historic districts of the United States
Title:
History in urban places : the historic districts of the United States
Author:
Hamer, D. A. (David Allan)
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Columbus : Ohio State University Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xiii, 277 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780814207895

9780814207901
Format :
Book

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E159 .H19 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Historic Districts in the United States now number over 8,000; the phenomenon of the Historic District has been of special interest to those concerned with historic preservation and town planning, but there has not yet been an analysis of such districts' significance from a historian's point of view. History in Urban Places explores the connections between American urban history and historic preservation.

A frequent criticism of historic districts is that they convey sanitized versions of the past and that their creation is prompted more by the needs of present-day real estate values, the impulse to gentrify, or the urgent need to rehabilitate inner-city areas than by a desire to preserve the past. David Hamer claims that historic districts are best understood as part of the growth and development of urban communities -- examples of applied urban history that should be studied as such.

Hamer argues that four stages of history are represented by historic districts. The first is the history that the district actually embodies; the second is the story of what happened to the district from the time the historically significant events occurred until the present, when those events are judged to be significant; the third is the process leading to the district's classification as historic; and the fourth is the history of the district once the designation is official.


Summary

"This is the first book devoted to an examination of the significance of historical districts from a historian's point of view." - Urban Studies Historic Districts in the United States now number over 8,000; the phenomenon of the Historic District has been of special interest to those concerned with historic preservation and town planning, but there has been no analysis of such districts' significance from a historian's point of view. History in Urban Places explores the connections between American urban history and historic preservation. A frequent criticism of historic districts is that they convey sanitized versions of the past and that their creation is prompted more by the needs of present-day real estate values, the impulse to gentrify, or the urgent need to rehabilitate inner-city areas than by a desire to preserve the past. David Hamer claims that historic districts are best understood as part of the growth and development of urban communities-examples of applied urban history that should be studied as such. Hamer argues that four stages of history are represented by historic districts. The first is the history that the district actually embodies; the second is the story of what happened to the district from the time historically significant events occurred until the present, when those events are judged to be significant; the third is the process leading to the district's classification as historic; and the fourth is the history of the district once the designation is official. David Hamer is a professor of history at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is the award-winning author of New Towns in the New World.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Relatively rare before the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, historic districts can now be found virtually anywhere in the nation. Some of these districts have qualified for National Register status, while many others meet state or local requirements. In thus study Hamer explores the historical experience of the district process in urban areas and examines the nature of the history involved in their designation and subsequent interpretation. According to Hamer, historic districts are not just a presentation of a particular stage of urban development. They are best understood as part of an interwoven process of change and continuity that is a central feature of the American urban past. After tracing the history of these districts and analyzing selected districts, Hamer discusses interpretative strategies available for these areas. He concludes with the reminder that history can be used to detach the past or as the glue that binds communities together. He believes that historic districts, all their limitations notwithstanding, reflect the desire to reach back to the past, capture what was good, and use it to sustain liveable communities today. All levels. P. Melvin; Loyola University


Choice Review

Relatively rare before the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, historic districts can now be found virtually anywhere in the nation. Some of these districts have qualified for National Register status, while many others meet state or local requirements. In thus study Hamer explores the historical experience of the district process in urban areas and examines the nature of the history involved in their designation and subsequent interpretation. According to Hamer, historic districts are not just a presentation of a particular stage of urban development. They are best understood as part of an interwoven process of change and continuity that is a central feature of the American urban past. After tracing the history of these districts and analyzing selected districts, Hamer discusses interpretative strategies available for these areas. He concludes with the reminder that history can be used to detach the past or as the glue that binds communities together. He believes that historic districts, all their limitations notwithstanding, reflect the desire to reach back to the past, capture what was good, and use it to sustain liveable communities today. All levels. P. Melvin; Loyola University