Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Gao, Di (2014). Historic Preservation in Legacy Cities: Preservation and Revitalization in Camden, New Jersey. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


The post-industrial cities of America are rife with significant cultural heritage that contribute to the national historic narrative. Many of these cities have experienced issues associated with disinvestment and population loss stemming from changing globalizing economic forces beginning in the latter half of the 20th century, jeopardizing their urban cultural heritage as these cities face decisions concerning vital redevelopment and revitalization plans in their efforts to regain relevancy in the contemporary global economic climate. Increasingly, cities facing these issues have turned towards local values and preservation based approaches to revitalization. This research examines the potential impact of historic preservation as a revitalization approach in the city of Camden, New Jersey through an investigation of best practices in other comparable legacy cities that have successfully utilized preservation as a form of strategic revitalization. These comparable cities were selected based off of their similarity to Camden in terms of several key indicators with regard to the challenges they face, their political structure, and their economic conditions. This study of the potential beneficial impact of preservation on the long-term sustainable revitalization of economically disinvested communities contributes knowledge of preservation best practices to the discourse on urban regeneration, and identifies the factors that have led to the successful preservation-based rebirth of vibrant urban communities. This research may serve as a means to advocate for the protection of legacy assets in post-industrial cities.


CDC, Camden, economic development, revitalization, redevelopment



Date Posted: 03 September 2014