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The citizens of New York were still over 75 percent white in the Census. By , New York had a white population of only 38 percent, outnumbered by African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans who comprised 71 percent of the city, including both long-term residents and new immigrants. Environmental problems are concentrated there as well—unhealthy air, polluted harbors, abandoned housing units, rusting bridges, broken water mains. While the urban landscape may be less attractive, there are far more claims being made upon it to furnish resources for public history and public culture.

An African American group seeks support for the protection of the remaining traces of the African Burial Ground near the present City Hall in Manhattan, and its sympathetic interpretation as a site where people of color were buried in the colonial period. Centuries of neglect of ethnic history have generated a tide of protest—where are the Native American, African American, Latino, and Asian American landmarks?

Gender involves similar, interconnected questions. Why are so few moments in women's history remembered as part of preservation? Why are so few women represented in commemorative public art? And why are the few women honored almost never women of color? Issues about working-class and poor neighborhoods remain—what, if anything, can public history or preservation projects add to their identity and economic development?

How do these issues intersect with the claims for ethnic history and women's history? And what kind of public processes and techniques best represent commitment to social history in public places?

Private nonprofit institutions such as museums and preservation groups , as well as public agencies city landmarks commissions and arts councils , are challenged daily to become accountable to the diverse urban public, whose members are both taxpayers and potential audiences. Current census statistics suggest that it is indeed appropriate to find new ways to deploy tax dollars in cultural programs that may range from exhibits to the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes, or the creation of permanent works of public art.

Indeed, interest in themes of identity is not limited to the city. Women's history and ethnic history drive many preservation controversies across the country. Recently, the National Trust for Historic Preservation established goals for cultural diversity in preservation. Anthony Slept Here. Architecture, as a discipline, has not seriously considered social and political issues, while social history has developed without much consideration of space or design.

Yet it is the volatile combination of social issues with spatial design, intertwined in these controversies, that makes them so critical to the future of American cities. Change is not simply a matter of acknowledging diversity or correcting a traditional bias toward the architectural legacy of wealth and power. It is not enough to add on a few African American or Native American projects, or a few women's projects, and assume that preserving urban history is handled well in the United States in the s. Nor is it enough to have a dozen different organizations advocating separate projects.

They are asking for an extremely subtle evocation of American diversity, which at the same time reinforces our sense of common membership in an American, urban society. Public space can help to nurture this more profound, subtle, and inclusive sense of what it means to be an American. Identity is intimately tied to memory: both our personal memories where we have come from and where we have dwelt and the collective or social memories interconnected with the histories of our families, neighbors, fellow workers, and ethnic communities.

Contested Terrain

Urban landscapes are storehouses for these social memories, because natural features, such as hills or harbors, as well as streets, buildings, and patterns of settlement, frame the lives of many people and often outlast many lifetimes. Yet even totally bulldozed places can be marked to restore some shared public meaning, a recognition of the experience of spatial conflict, or bitterness, or despair. At the same time, in ordinary neighborhoods that have escaped the bulldozer but have never been the object of lavish municipal spending, it is possible to enhance social meaning in public places with modest expenditures for projects that are sensitive to all citizens and their diverse heritage, and developed with public processes that recognize both the cultural and the political importance of place.

The power of place—the power of ordinary urban landscapes to nurture citizens' public memory, to encompass shared time in the form of shared territory—remains untapped for most working people's neighborhoods in most American cities, and for most ethnic history and most women's history. The sense of civic identity that shared history can convey is missing. And even bitter experiences and fights communities have lost need to be remembered—so as not to diminish their importance.


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To reverse the neglect of physical resources important to women's history and ethnic history is not a simple process, especially if preservationists are to be true to the insights of a broad, inclusive social history encompassing gender, race, and class. Restoring significant shared meanings for many neglected urban places first involves claiming the entire urban cultural landscape as an important part of American history, not just its architectural monuments. This means emphasizing the building types—such as tenement, factory, union hall, or church—that have housed working people's everyday lives.

Second, it involves finding creative ways to interpret modest buildings as part of the flow of contemporary city life. A politically conscious approach to urban preservation must go beyond the techniques of traditional architectural preservation making preserved structures into museums or attractive commercial real estate to reach broader audiences. It must emphasize public processes and public memory. This will involve reconsidering strategies for the representation of women's history and ethnic history in public places, as well as for the preservation of places themselves.

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Quality teaching discourses: A contested terrain | QUT ePrints

Hela arkivet Nuvarande samling. Vaara, Eero ; Tienari, Janne. Politicians and lobbyists? Or the people who live and work here?

A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks

But in order to try to do so, an understanding of how this place came to be in its current state is a must. Terrie is able to frame Adirondack history with an eye toward the present, while not losing sight of its gritty past. Today, the Adirondacks are a place where communities are shrinking.