Changing Landscapes: Redefining Preservation for Legacy Neighborhoods
Historic Preservation and Conservation
This thesis offers a critical examination of traditional preservation policies and practices, which have long prioritized the physical form and fabric of heritage places over other values. This disproportionately favors dominant cultures in historic narratives and perpetuates harmfully narrow definitions of significance, authenticity, and integrity. With a specific focus on legacy neighborhoods, urban areas suffering from sustained disinvestment and wide-spread vacancy, a more equitable preservation process is proposed. One which views the preservation of a neighborhood’s existing social fabric (its health, culture, and connectivity) as essential to the that of its physical fabric (both built and natural). Grounded in a cultural landscapes approach and fortified with ideas of resiliency, peacekeeping, and values-centered preservation, this process is ultimately applied to the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Strawberry Mansion; a community—for better or worse—poised for change.