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Cultural Landscapes

Cultural Landscapes: Balancing Nature and Heritage in Preservation Practice

Richard Longstreth Editor
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Cultural Landscapes
    Book Description:

    The essays collected in this volume—case studies that include the Little Tokyo neighborhood in Los Angeles, the Cross Bronx Expressway, and a rural island in Puget Sound—underscore how cultural landscape preservation can be fruitfully applied. Contributors: Susan Calafate Boyle, Susan Buggey, Michael Caratzas, Courtney P. Fint, Heidi Hohmann, Hillary Jenks, Randall Mason, Robert Z. Melnick, Nora Mitchell, Julie Riesenweber, Nancy D. Rottle, Bonnie Stepenoff.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5648-6
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: The Challenges of Cultural Landscape for Preservation
    (pp. 1-20)

    The concept of cultural landscape has evolved over several generations. Yet that concept is still relatively new to the field of historic preservation, and while it has made a substantial contribution, it remains misunderstood or marginalized in many quarters.¹ Indeed, the number of preservationists who have not heard of the term or have only a vague notion of what it represents is substantial. Cultural landscape—or simply “landscape,” as it is known in some circles—is frequently misconstrued as being synonymous with designed landscape—a garden, park, campus, boulevard system, and the like—or with landscaping—the act of manipulating...

  5. PART I Interpreting Landscape

    • 1. Landscape Preservation and Cultural Geography
      (pp. 23-34)

      When preservationists think of cultural landscapes, they usually regard them as something resulting from the impact of human activity on a natural environment. In the secretary of the interior’s guidelines, for example, a cultural landscape is “a geographic area (including both cultural and natural resources and the wildlife or domestic animals therein), associated with a historic event, activity, or person or exhibiting other cultural or aesthetic values.” The geographer Arnold Alanen and landscape architect Robert Melnick emphasize that these places may be found “virtually everywhere that human activities have affected the land.”¹ Such definitions treat landscape as a material thing...

    • 2. The Politics of Preservation: Power, Memory, and Identity in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo
      (pp. 35-54)

      Thorny issues of “ownership” of the cultural landscape and of the relationship between ethnic identity and physical space are vividly illustrated in the evolution of what is now the Little Tokyo National Historic Landmark District, located just east of downtown Los Angeles (Figure 2.1). Little Tokyo has been dynamically created by the place-making actions of multiple groups of people. Comprehending and preserving the cultural landscapes of such urban and “ethnic” places are an especially complex and controversial undertaking due to the diversity as well as the number of concerns of those involved over time. Although the landscape of Little Tokyo...

    • 3. Cross-Bronx: The Urban Expressway as Cultural Landscape
      (pp. 55-72)

      URBAN expressways have earned a reputation for destroying historic buildings and damaging neighborhoods among their other professed ills.¹ But because many of these highways are now at least half a century old, they beg reexamination in a more historical framework as features of the urban landscape.² New York’s Cross-Bronx Expressway is a revealing example in several respects. It is historically significant, making it an important part of the city’s cultural landscape. But it is also a cultural landscape in its own right, showcasing the values of an era. In addition, it is significant experientially, serving as an urban gateway into...

    • 4. The American Summer Youth Camp as a Cultural Landscape
      (pp. 73-90)

      The summer youth camp movement emerged during the late nineteenth century in response to a growing concern among parents, educators, and civic leaders in the United States that the purported vagaries of the industrial age threatened traditional values and the positive development of children. Much as with the maturation of the suburban ideal and of landscape design in the decades immediately previous, the creation of the summer camp was spurred by the pursuit of a more “authentic” life—physically, morally, and socially—through contact with nature. The setting created for this experience was viewed as an essential tool for furthering...

    • 5. Wild Lands and Wonders: Preserving Nature and Culture in National Parks
      (pp. 91-106)

      Natural areas may be significant for historical reasons as well as for biological, geological, and aesthetic ones. As an open glade in a secluded valley shelters species of wildflowers, insects, and animals that would not thrive in an altered environment, so a clear spring gushing from a rocky bluff possesses visual qualities we admire. The ecological and scenic values of natural areas deserve protection, but so do the historical qualities that arise from connections between the land and human activities. A preservationist’s first impulse might be to treat wild areas as we do cultivated landscapes, buildings, structures, and objects, but...

  6. PART II Balancing Change and Continuity

    • 6. Mediating Ecology and History: Rehabilitation of Vegetation in Oklahoma’s Platt Historic District
      (pp. 109-128)

      Over the past decade, the National Park Service’sGuidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapeshas defined landscape preservation methodology.¹ Despite the advancement in historic landscape preservation that this document represents, challenges remain in effectively bridging the gap between nature and culture and in incorporating ecological principles into landscape treatment. In their current form, the guidelines contribute to those challenges.

      One area in which the problem is particularly apparent is the guidelines’ approach to vegetation. Following general landscape preservation practices, they focus primarily on vegetation from a structural standpoint (vegetation as physical fabric), not an ecosystem standpoint (vegetation as living...

    • 7. A Continuum and Process Framework for Rural Historic Landscape Preservation: Revisiting Ebey’s Landing on Whidby Island, Washington
      (pp. 129-149)

      Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve on Whidbey Island, Washington, was established in 1978 to “preserve and protect a rural community which provides an unbroken historical record from nineteenth century exploration and settlement in Puget Sound to the present time.” The fertile landscape of this 17,400-acre reserve—a National Park Service unit wherein the land remains primarily in private ownership—has supported farming and forestry since the 1850s. This legacy is evident in the spatial patterning of the landscape, an impressive collection of historic farmsteads and unbroken vistas across active agricultural fields (Figure 7.1). Because lands are still privately held, they...

    • 8. Natural and Cultural Resources: The Protection of Vernacular Landscapes
      (pp. 150-163)

      An ecological perspective should be an essential part of analyzing vernacular landscapes—those that evolve through use by people—and of their protection and management. Classifying and treating all landscapes as “traditional” cultural resources in the currently conventional manner have meant that a major segment of our nation’s cultural landscapes has been ignored. The methodology developed for the study of cultural landscapes needs to be modified so that it can be successfully applied to resources that have strong natural components, are dynamic in complexion, and are not easily defined.¹

      The need for action is nowhere more critical than in the...

    • 9. Cultural Landscapes: Venues for Community-based Conservation
      (pp. 164-179)

      Over the past two decades, recognition of the heritage value of cultural landscapes has contributed to an expanded vision for the field of historic preservation in the United States, Canada, and other countries.¹ Considering cultural landscapes led to the inclusion of diverse worldviews, cultural traditions, and natural resources as determinants of heritage values and management objectives. This broadened perspective has transformed ideas of what is significant and authentic and has fostered integration with other cultural interests and community goals alike. Contributions from interdisciplinary partnerships and innovations in community-based approaches to landscape management have also added new insights and methodologies. Perhaps...

    • 10. Management for Cultural Landscape Preservation: Insights from Australia
      (pp. 180-196)

      By their changeful nature, cultural landscapes present many obstacles to preservation. Standard models and methods used in historic preservation—based on “arresting decay,” narrow conceptions of cultural significance, or other specialist concerns—fall short of the target of allowing landscapes to change while ensuring the core aspects of their significance are preserved. Cultural landscape scholarship, led by geographers, has advanced the understanding of significant places immensely but rarely makes the leap to questions of managing landscapes and implementing preservation measures.¹ The pragmatic question for those interested in landscape preservation, therefore, is how one can take advantage of the holistic, dynamic...

    • 11. Are We There Yet? Travels and Tribulations in the Cultural Landscape
      (pp. 197-210)

      My title is taken from that great vernacular expression of impatience that I suspect we have all uttered or have had spoken to us by our children: “Are we there yet?” To cut to the end, no, we are not there yet, but we have come far on this journey of discovery, recognition, and protection of the cultural landscape. This reflection on what has been accomplished—and not accomplished—in the past twenty-five years is a rather personal one, with a bit of nostalgia as well as hope for what we have yet to do. I am taking the opportunity...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 211-212)
  8. Index
    (pp. 213-218)