Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:
Chan, Rebecca C. (2011). Old Buildings, New Ideas: Historic Preservation and Creative Industry Development as Complementary Urban Revitalization Strategies. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


The cultivation of the creative sector through the implementation of arts districts has been employed as an urban revitalization tool with increasing frequency in recent years, often occurring within historic building stock. In a departure from previous models of economic development in which workers are drawn to an area by jobs, footloose and often self-employed creative industry workers are more likely to locate based on quality of life and an area's so-called livability factors present in historic areas throughout the U.S.

Creative sector research and policy making stress the importance of character-rich places and the co-location of spaces for production and consumption of creative goods as a components in developing a region's creative industry. Yet the existing literature does not specifically seek out or incorporate historic preservation as a mechanism in creative district planning strategies. This thesis explores the critical role historic preservation can play in the development of the creative industries, thus ensuring preservation is considered a component in future policy initiatives. It addresses the relationship between historic preservation and arts districts (one aspect of creative industry cultivation), seeking to identify strategies that build effectively on historic preservation policy and arts districts as complementary components of community economic development strategy. It identifies policy tools that advance both historic preservation and the development of the creative industry and describes instances in which these tools have been successfully applied in concert.



Date Posted: 04 May 2012