#ForewordFriday: Our Diverse History

When it comes to the future of our cities, the secret to urban revival lies in our past. Stephanie Meeks and Kevin C. Murphy's, The Past and Future City is an engaging look at how historic preservation can create thriving communities by explaining how historic buildings and the preservation movement can make our cities more desirable, prosperous,and equitable.

In this inspiring book, Meeks takes readers on a journey through our country’s historic spaces to explain why preservation is important for all communities. Along with spurring economic growth, nurturing start-up businesses, and creating jobs, historic preservation reduces energy costs and environmental impact while encouraging healthy living practices like walking and cycling.

Preservation is not just about keeping old buildings around. It is about retaining valuable historic buildings and districts while updating them for current uses and needs. It is about capturing our history—both the good and the bad—for future generations to understand.

The book also addresses the need for preservationists to protect historic spaces like Shockoe Bottom in Richmond, once the nation’s second-largest slave market, from inappropriate development. Telling the full American story means preserving spaces that have historical significance to all Americans—including African Americans, women, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, and others. With passion and expert insight, The Past and Future City shows how historic places explain our past and serve as the foundation of our future. These places matter, Meeks reminds us, and we are richer and stronger when they remain.

Check out Chapter 5 “Our Diverse History: Toward More Inclusive History and Communities” below, or download the PDF here.