Although Philadelphia is widely recognized as a city with abundant historic buildings and neighborhoods, the city has never had a historic preservation plan or a citywide survey of historic resources. According to a recent study for the Preservation Alliance, only four percent of the properties in the city have ever been evaluated in terms of their historic significance. Data about historic resources in Philadelphia is woefully inadequate for setting preservation priorities and integrating historic preservation into planning and development decisions and neighborhood revitalization.
To fill this gap, the Preservation Alliance, in cooperation with the Philadelphia Historical Commission and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, is at work on the first phase of a multi-year project to create a preservation plan and citywide survey of historic resources.
The phase of the plan that is underway has three key components:
• Creation of a strategic preservation plan for Philadelphia. Working with Penn Praxis and the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, the Preservation Alliance is currently engaging a wide range of individuals and organizations, including the general public, in a discussion of the state of historic preservation in Philadelphia and our vision for the future.
• Creation of a statement of historic significance for the city. Historic resource surveys need to be guided by a framework that outlines the significant themes in the history of the physical development of the city. The Alliance is working with a group of historians, coordinated by Emily Cooperman, Ph.D., to identify the key themes in the development of the city and develop initial statements of significance as models for further work.
• Citywide historic resources survey. Current technology, such as GIS mapping and digital technology, makes it much more feasible to undertake a citywide survey of historic resources than has been possible in the past. The Alliance has been experimenting with a technological approach to historic resource surveys for several years. Now, the Preservation Design Partnership and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia are working with the Alliance to refine the use of technology and establish a methodology for undertaking a citywide survey.
Watch here for a link to a new web site which will report on the preservation plan as it proceeds, and allow members of the public to participate in a survey about historic preservation and to submit photographs and comments about historic buildings, sites and distinctive neighborhoods worthy of preservation.
CLICK HERE to take the public survey about historic preservation.
To learn more, visit www.preservephiladelphia.org
Preserve Philadelphia is funded with grants from the William Penn Foundation, Barra Foundation and the Heritage Philadelphia Program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
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