The Past and Future City
6 x 9
11 photos, 15 illustrations
6 x 9
11 photos, 15 illustrations
At its most basic, historic preservation is about keeping old places alive, in active use, and relevant to the needs of communities today. As cities across America experience a remarkable renaissance, and more and more young, diverse families choose to live, work, and play in historic neighborhoods, the promise and potential of using our older and historic buildings to revitalize our cities is stronger than ever.
This urban resurgence is a national phenomenon, boosting cities from Cleveland to Buffalo and Portland to Pittsburgh. Experts offer a range of theories on what is driving the return to the city—from the impact of the recent housing crisis to a desire to be socially engaged, live near work, and reduce automobile use. But there’s also more to it. Time and again, when asked why they moved to the city, people talk about the desire to live somewhere distinctive, to be some place rather than no place. Often these distinguishing urban landmarks are exciting neighborhoods—Miami boasts its Art Deco district, New Orleans the French Quarter. Sometimes, as in the case of Baltimore’s historic rowhouses, the most distinguishing feature is the urban fabric itself.
While many aspects of this urban resurgence are a cause for celebration, the changes have also brought to the forefront issues of access, affordable housing, inequality, sustainability, and how we should commemorate difficult history. This book speaks directly to all of these issues.
In The Past and Future City, Stephanie Meeks, the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, describes in detail, and with unique empirical research, the many ways that saving and restoring historic fabric can help a city create thriving neighborhoods, good jobs, and a vibrant economy. She explains the critical importance of preservation for all our communities, the ways the historic preservation field has evolved to embrace the challenges of the twenty-first century, and the innovative work being done in the preservation space now.
This book is for anyone who cares about cities, places, and saving America’s diverse stories, in a way that will bring us together and help us better understand our past, present, and future.
"Thoughtful and engaging, Meeks reveals how historic preservation is about more smart, managed change than simple conservation."
"An impassioned and well-argued case for the economic, environmental, and social value of preservation and active resuse of the nation's historic buildings...the book is an articulate call to action."
"The Past and Fuure City will offer a well-researched and clearly stated argument in favor of historic preservation as a key tool in the development of livable, prosperous cities."
"Meeks wrote the book not just to advocate, although she is clear that 'the combination of preservation and adaptive reuse is not just the best way forward for our cities. It is in many ways the only way forward'...The book's arguments are buttressed at every turn by quotations and detailed discussions of recent books and studies. Old-timers may profitably read it by scanning the endnotes, while newcomers and fencer-sitters will enjoy the avalanche of stories Meeks provides."
"If you thought historic preservation was just about saving grand, classic structures from the wrecking ball, you would be wrong. According to The Past and Future City...the role of historic preservation is evolving, touching not just the buildings that many consider some of the best parts of their cities, but the cities themselves."
"The US suburb may be on the wane...so suggests Stephanie Meeks in this punchy study of the 'great inversion'—the flow of younger people into historic city centres."
"[Meeks] makes a comprehensive and forceful case that historic preservation, despite the way that many view it, is actually about function, newness, and vitality...Practical and often eye-opening, The Past and Future City is a guide to a tremendously important tool for making our cities better and more livable."
"With fervor and clarity, The Past and Future City highlights the significance of honoring the varied and vivacious history of America, and explains why and how the preservation of historic buildings and places is essential in the present and future world of urban planning."
"A well-researched and impassioned celebration of the role of historic preservation (conservation) in the regeneration of America's cities...an important book."
"Meeks makes a strong case for the preservation of our historic built environment, backing her beliefs up with statistical information and a wealth of examples from around the country."
"An extraordinary and exceptional study that is especially commended to the attention of anyone who cares about cities, places, and saving America's diverse stories as a way to help us better understand our past, present, and future."
Midwest Book Review
"Stephanie Meeks explains how historic preservation is one of the most exciting aspects of revitalizing both large and small communities. Understanding, protecting, and enhancing our heritage makes these communities come alive. Ms. Meeks provides a guide to help enrich any community."
Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Co-Chair of the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus
"With passion, conviction, and clarity, this book underlines the importance of celebrating all of America's rich and diverse history and makes a compelling case for preservation as the key urban planning tool of the twenty-first century. In Birmingham, we've seen firsthand how historic buildings rejuvenate neighborhoods. Here, Stephanie Meeks takes the case nationwide."
William Bell, Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama
"In The Past and Future City, Stephanie explains how preservation can enrich cities across America in a way that is both equitable and sustainable."
Mtamanika Youngblood, Executive Director, Historic District Development Corporation
"Nothing more convincingly shows the face of the new preservation movement than this visionary book. In these pages, the National Trust's president, Stephanie Meeks, shows a preservation movement dedicated to building economically vital, equitable, and sustainable cities using the raw materials of places that matter."
Max Page, Professor of Architecture and Director of Historic Preservation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Introduction: The Powers of Place
Chapter 1: Downtown Is For People: Competing Visions of the Ideal American City
Chapter 2: Older, Smaller, Better: How Older Buildings Enhance Urban Vitality
Chapter 3: Making It Work for Your City: Unleashing the Power and Potential of Historic Fabric
Chapter 4: Buildings Reborn: Keeping Historic Properties in Active Use
Chapter 5: Our Diverse History: Towards More Inclusive History and Communities
Chapter 6: Mitigating the Great Inversion: The Problems of Affordability and Displacement
Chapter 7: The Greenest Buildings: Preservation, Climate Change, and the Environment
Conclusion: The Future of the Past: Livable Cities and the Future of Preservation
About the Authors
Author Stephanie Meeks discusses her new book The Past and Future Ciity: How Historic Preservation is Reviving America's Communities and its themes at the famous DC bookstore and coffeehouse, Politics and Prose. More details here.
SPUR San Francisco: The Past and Future City with Stephanie Meeks
SPUR Urban Center
654 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-4015
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
12:30 p.m. | Monday, January 9, 2017
As our cities continue to grow, the potential to use historic buildings becomes greater than ever. The new book The Past and Future City addresses how historic preservation can go beyond the physical renovation and activation of old buildings and address issues like affordable housing, inequality, sustainability and displacement. Join SPUR for a discussion about the changing role of preservation in our cities with the book’s author.
Free to the public
Pre-registration is not required for this event.
Place Makers' Recommended Reading
Planetizen's Top Planning Books for 2017
Summertime brings picnics, baseball games, family vacations, and, increasingly, record-busting temperatures. Each of the 10 hottest years on record has happened since 1998, including the hottest of all, 2014. As a preservation community, we are starting to grapple with the effects of this changing climate in very concrete ways.
Beloved destinations are confronting the new reality of rising sea levels, which contribute to coastal Louisiana losing a football field of land every hour. Powerful storms such as Katrina and Sandy are damaging historic places with tragic regularity. And roughly 100 of the National Park Service's more than 400 park units are already experiencing climate-related transformations.
In the face of this growing climate crisis, our work as preservationists is twofold.
First, we should encourage the use of historic buildings as a way to reduce carbon emissions—the engine that is overheating the planet. Nearly half of the greenhouse gases in the United States are produced by the construction and operation of buildings.
It makes no sense for us to recycle newsprint, bottles, and aluminum cans while we’re throwing away entire neighborhoods. Our Preservation Green Lab has conducted groundbreaking research that emphasizes the environmental value of reusing historic buildings, which is far better for our planet than demolition and new construction. As the saying goes, “The greenest building is the one that is already built.”
Continue reading the full post at SavingPlaces.org
Stephanie Meeks is the author of The Past and Future City and has been the president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation since July 2010. Before joining the National Trust, she served in several senior executive positions, including chief operating officer as well as acting president and chief executive officer, during her 17-year career with The Nature Conservancy.
As cities in America redevelop, they face challenges to citizens’ wellbeing, i.e. gentrification and sustainability concerns. In her new book, The Past and Future City author of the book as well as president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Stephanie Meeks makes the case for historic preservation which often takes slights from detractors as being only for wealthy, elite whites. Meeks addresses these concerns while still defending Historic Preservation as the best way forward for American cities. In the second chapter, featured below, Meeks describes three case studies of Washington, San Francisco, and Seattle. She breaks down what was successful in these cities and displays historic preservation as not just a novelty, but economically feasible and environmentally conscious. Read below to learn about Historic Preservation from an empirical, grounded standpoint that is interesting, accessible, and relevant for any person concerned about their neighborhood’s future to read.
David Hall is the Marketing and Publicity intern at Island Press.
This holiday season, give the gift of an Island Press book. With a catalog of more than 1,000 books, we guarantee there's something for everyone on your shopping list. Check out our list of staff selections, and share your own ideas in the comments below.
For the OUTDOORSPERSON in your life:
Water is for Fighting Over...and Other Myths about Water in the West by John Fleck
Anyone who has ever rafted down the Colorado, spent a starlit night on its banks, or even drank from a faucet in the western US needs Water is for Fighting Over. Longtime journalist John Fleck will give the outdoors lover in your life a new appreciation for this amazing river and the people who work to conserve it. This book is a gift of hope for the New Year.
Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man by Jason Mark
Do you constantly find your friend waxing poetic about their camping tales and their intimate connection to the peaceful, yet mysterious powers of nature? Sounds like they will relate to Jason Mark’s tales of his expeditions across a multitude of American landscapes, as told in Satellites in the High Country. More than a collection of stories, this narrative demonstrates the power of nature’s wildness and explores what the concept of wild has come to mean in this Human Age.
What Should a Clever Moose Eat?: Natural History, Ecology, and the North Woods by John Pastor
Is the outdoorsperson in your life all dressed up in boots, parka, and backpack with nowhere to go? Looking for meaning in another titanium French press coffeemaker for the camp stove? What Should a Clever Moose Eat leaves the technogadgets behind and reminds us that all we really need to bring to the woods when we venture out is a curious mind and the ability to ask a good question about the natural world around us. Such as, why do leaves die? What do pine cones have to do with the shape of a bird’s beak? And, how are blowflies important to skunk cabbage? A few quality hours among its pages will equip your outdoor enthusiast to venture forth and view nature with new appreciation, whether in the North Woods with ecologist John Pastor or a natural ecosystem closer to home.
Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change by Yoram Bauman
This holiday season, give your favorite climate-denier a passive aggressive “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” with The Cartoon Introduction to Climate Change featuring self –described Stand-up Economist Yoram Bauman and award-winning illustrator Grady Klein. Give the gift of fun, entertaining basic understanding of what is, undeniably and not up for subjective debate, scientific fact!
For the HEALTH NUT in your life:
Unnatural Selection: How We Are Changing Life, Gene by Gene by Emily Monosson
Give the health nut in your life the gift of understanding with Unnatural Selection. Your friends and family will discover how chemicals are changing life on earth and how we can protect it. Plus, they’ll read fascinating stories about the search for a universal vaccine, the attack of relentless bedbugs, and a miracle cancer drug that saved a young father’s life.
For the ADVOCATE in your life:
Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay by Sanderson, et. al
Need an antidote to the doom and gloom? Stressed-out environmental advocates will appreciate Prospects for Resilience: Insights from New York City's Jamaica Bay. It’s a deep dive into one of the most important questions of our time: how can we create cities where people and nature thrive together? Prospects for Resilience showcases successful efforts to restore New York’s much abused Jamaica Bay, but its lessons apply to any communities seeking to become more resilient in a turbulent world.
Ecological Economics by Josh Farley and Herman Daly
Blow the mind of the advocate in your life with a copy of Ecological Economics by the godfather of ecological economics, Herman Daly, and Josh Farley. In plain, and sometimes humorous English, they’ll come to understand how our current economic system does not play by the same laws that govern nearly every other system known to humankind—that is, the laws of thermodynamics. Given recent financial and political events, there’s a message of hope within the book as it lays out specific policy and social change frameworks.
For the CRAZY CAT PERSON in your life:
An Indomitable Beast: The Remarkable Journey of the Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz
The cat lovers in your life will lose themselves in An Indomitable Beast, an illuminating story about the journey of the jaguar. This is the perfect book for any of your feline loving friends, whether they want to pursue adventure with the big cats of the wild, or stay home with a book and cup of tea.
For the GARDENER in your life:
Wild by Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes by Margie Ruddick
Give your favorite gardener an antidote to the winter blues. The lush photographs of Wild by Design, and inspirational advice on cultivating landscapes in tune with nature, transport readers to spectacular parks, gardens, and far-flung forests. This book is guaranteed to be well-thumbed and underlined by the time spring planting season arrives!
For the STUBBORN RELATIVE in your life:
Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator by Lucy Moore
For the person keeping the peace in your family this holiday season, the perfect gift is Common Ground on Hostile Turf, an inspiring how to guide demonstrating it is possible to bring vastly different views together. This book gives lessons learned on setting down at the table with the most diverse set of players and the journey they take to find common grounds and results. If your holiday dinner needs some mediation, look to the advice of author Lucy Moore.
Also consider: Communication Skills for Conservation Professionals by Susan Jacobson, Communicating Nature by Julia Corbett
For the HISTORY BUFF in your life:
The Past and Future City: How Historic Preservation is Reviving America's Communities by Stephanie Meeks with Kevin C. Murphy
When it comes to the the future of our cities, the secret to urban revival lies in our past. Tickle the fancy of your favorite history buff by sharing The Past and Future City, which takes readers on a journey through our country's historic spaces to explain why preservation is important for all communities. With passion and expert insight, this book shows how historic spaces explain our past and serve as the foundation of our future.
For the BUSINESS PERSON in your life:
Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature by Mark Tercek
For the aspiring CEO in your life who drools at phrases like "rates of return" and "investment," share the gift of Nature's Fortune, an essential guide to the world's economic (and environmental) well-being.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
Listen below as Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, speaks with Kai Ryssdal on NPR's Marketplace about why our economy needs old buildings, what types of places we need to do a better job protecting and how they prioritize what gets saved and what doesn't.
Read an excerpt from Stephanie's book, The Past and Future City, below.
Island Press' Associate Director of Marketing.
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.
Chidinma is our web and social media intern.