Historic Preservation and the Imagined

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

It was also during this time (late 1960s and early 1970s) that the inhabitants of Seattle began to identify more with the initial spirit of the settlers, who had found the right solution during times of economic hardships, similar to those occurring in that particular period of time. The Pioneer Place transformed itself to embody the spirit of Seattle itself.

One particular characteristic of the Pioneer Place was the fact that the different groups that worked towards recreating the identity of the square also clashed in terms of the heritage that the square should embody. The two directions usually in play were either that of the Skid Row, place of vagabondism and debauchery, or that of the initial entrepreneur and survival spirit of the inhabitants. The result was that the Pioneer Place remains today an eclectic combination of beautiful architecture and bums, along with shopping centers and small neighborhood shops.

The case of Albuquerque was somewhat different than Seattle. First of all, the Old Town, as the old historical part of the city was called, had lived an almost separate existence well into the 20th century, with the community grouped around the local church and generally out of contact with the other parts of the city, notably the New Town. As a consequence, the historical dimension of this part of the city and the cultural heritage remained virtually unchanged and unaffected by the passage of time, to the degree to which, in many cases, the modern developments, such as running water, had not been introduced.

There are two important elements that marked the evolution of Old Town Albuquerque into a historical neighborhood. First, the original Old Town was populated with inhabitants of Spanish and Mexican decent and this was the original background of the population there. As the population of Anglo-Saxon decent began to settle in, generally attracted by the countryside flavor of the neighborhood, it also began to stimulate the idea of the creation of a historical area in this part of the town. As such, they proposed the Old Town as "a quaint vestige of an earlier era rather than a tight-knit ethnic community" (Morley, 2006). The historical neighborhood would thus transform itself.

The second element worth noting was the fact that the historic Old Town was eventually placed under city control. This meant that the city board proposed and supported a project by which the Old Town would become the historical and cultural heritage for all the inhabitants of Albuquerque, meaning the population of the New Town as well. This had not been the case previously, with the populations of New and Old Town having virtually different backgrounds and following different roads of development ahead.

The result in Albuquerque was that the Old Town transformed itself into something of "fake authenticity" (Morley, 2006): the city council and the new inhabitants proposed the initial Mexican and Spanish heritage of historical Albuquerque and the heritage on which to build the cultural background of the entire city. Despite the fact that the Old Town had also partially transformed, it was recreated to fit into the image that had thus been created. At the same time, the Old Town also became architecturally uniform, since many of these buildings were created or recreated to fit the image that had been proposed.

Bibliography

1. Morley, Judy Mattivi. Historic Preservation and the Imagined…