The theme for this week is “Preservation,” and through this week’s readings, my understanding and appreciation for preservation increased drastically.
I’ll begin with Dolores Hayden’s Claiming Urban Landscapes as Public History, in which her opening anecdote sets up the focus of the text. This anecdote involves a sociologist and an architectural critic arguing over which buildings are worth preserving historically. Herbert Gans, the sociologist, argued that common buildings, like mills, factories, tenements, etc. have as much historic significance as architecturally prominent buildings, whereas Ada Huxtable, the critic, asserted that architecturally and aesthetically remarkable buildings deserved particular attention. Both of these individuals, in their own ways, were right, but there was a disconnect preventing them from seeing so. This question of “what gets preserved?” is one that all three of the readings for this week tackled, and the crucial answer is “whatever places hold significance to public memory and experience,” whether that be an architecturally and historically renowned building, or the lowliest of tenements in New York City.
This question of “what should be preserved, and why?” is specifically addressed in the Introduction to Marla Miller and Max Page's book Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States. Much of the discussion about what gets saved and why, according to Miller and Page, hinges “on two key-and controversial and highly charged-concepts: integrity and significance.” In order to figure out what should be preserved, and why, we, as public historians and preservationists need to figure out what integrity these locations or buildings have, and what makes them significant enough to warrant status as a protected site.
This brings me to Andrew Hurley’s Beyond Preservation. Hurley incorporates this concept into his writing, using his book to make historic preservation a more effective instrument for revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods through public history as a medium. He argues for finding the significance and integrity in the common as a means of serving inner-city communities and revitalizing their economies. He argues that there is a way for historic preservation to better serve those communities; that one could, with moderate ease, lure investment, “back to the urban core,” but that added import must be given to “[fostering] stable, diverse, and enriching communities.”
Although there are countless complicating factors that render historic preservation, particularly in cities, especially difficult, I found each of these readings truly enlightening. In conclusion, I enjoyed and learned much from these readings. Using history to give back to communities in a long-term fashion that puts the focus on them, their integrity as a community, and the significance of the locations within those neighborhoods and cities is something that speaks to me. Given my desire to work in LGBT+ History, I would greatly enjoy the opportunity to take what I learned from this week's readings and put it to use in serving and preserving the nation's LGBTQ+ historical places, places that currently, with few exceptions, are not being preserved.
 Dolores Hayden, “I: Claiming Urban Landscapes as Public History,” in The Power of Place (The MIT Press, 1997): p. 3.
 Marla Miller and Max Page, “Introduction,” in Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2016): p. 18.
 Andrew Hurley, “Preface,” in Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities (Temple University Press, 2010): p. ix.
 Andrew Hurley, Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities (Temple University Press, 2010): p. 30.