Downtown Phoenix Business Improvement District promotes historic buildings during National Historic Preservation Month
Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix. Photo: Lauren Potter.
Hmm, this sticks out so much because other business improvement districts aren't leveraging National Historic Preservation Month to call attention to historic assets in their districts.
Since Phoenix is the poster child of sprawl, it's hard to think about it in terms of "historic buildings," but they are there, in landmarks and in cool neighborhoods with historic architecture, for example the Roosevelt Row district of bungalows, which is now a thriving arts district.
-- "Celebrate Historic Preservation Month with these 7 Downtown gems," Downtown Phoenix Inc.
"Main Street" commercial revitalization programs are obvious candidates for doing something like this because they are revitalization efforts built on a foundation of historic preservation.
The article also calls attention to other state and local organizations--ArizPreservation Foundation, Preserve Phoenix, and Phoenix Historic Neighborhoods Coalition-- working on historic preservation.
Many downtown revitalization programs do develop and present brochures, walking tours, etc. on historic properties. But there are many more opportunities to do so than have been realized.
It bugs Suzanne that I want to stop in practically every visitor center that we pass by as we travel.
I consider such places--at least the ones that haven't dropped brochures in favor of digital screens--"best practice learning centers," because the promotional materials they hold are supposed to be the ultimate scintillation about what makes those places special, and usually the design of these brochures is also quite good.
(It took me years to figure out to file such brochures by state. I still haven't gotten around to reorganizing these files into sub-files for commercial districts, historic preservation, arts, transportation, etc.)
Years ago I was struck by the visitor materials on architecture and place for the town of Bedford in Pennsylvania. For a small community--the town has fewer than 3,000 residents and the county not quite 50,000 residents--they put many other places to shame in terms of the quality of their visitor marketing program.
In some communities, the main placemaking advocacy or architecture group, like Municipal Arts Society in New York City or the Chicago Architecture Foundation have an active schedule of tours and other programs, not just during Preservation Month, but throughout the year.
Those organizations, business improvement districts like Downtown Phoenix, and visitor marketing organizations like Visit Bedford are great examples for other places in terms of upping the way they call attention to historic preservation as an element of place that is attractive to visitors through destination development and marketing, but especially residents--a point that former Mayor of Charleston, Joseph Riley, always makes.
From Mayor Riley's standard speech:
Now downtown was like every downtown in America. It was dying, if not dead. People moved out. All the things we discussed today, and all the things we understand. We worked hard at it, and we all must work hard at it. It’s the hardest thing we do. But the reason we have to work hard at it is, that is our public realm. That is the most democratic space of a city. We cannot relegate the next generation of Americans to living in a community where things are increasingly privatized and where there aren’t the opportunities for mutual celebration. That’s what the marketplace means! That’s what downtown means! That’s why Main Street is so important!
You own the sidewalk. It belongs to you if you’re the richest person, the poorest person. You have the same equal enjoyment of it. It will never happen in the malls. The malls are wonderful and they’re convenient, but where the buildings come to the sidewalk, the public buildings, the shopping buildings, the marketplaces and the hearts of our cities are something that belongs to everyone, and at all costs we’ve got to work to save them and to make them more beautiful and to make them more inspirational places. That’s why we work so hard at it. It’s not just about the buildings. It’s about saving the public realm for human beings who need it in their cities. Every city needs a center, and human beings need centers.====
Well, our downtown was like everyone else’s and we started with a program to show what the buildings used to look like, and get owners to fix them up. ...
Interestingly, seeing King Street in Charleston and the Savannah Historic District, on a road trip with a college friend around 2000, helped me to better appreciate historic preservation aesthetically as well as its utility as a sustainable and successful urban revitalization practice.
The Preservation Society of Charleston even has a "store front" on King Street, which we visited. More historic preservation organizations need to have such prominently located and visible offices in their own communities.
I came back to DC with the realization that my then neighborhood of H Street NE was no less beautiful than Capitol Hill or Georgetown or Charleston, just different.
Rowhouses on 8th Street NE (by Gallaudet University), Washington DC. Photo by Elise Bernard, Frozen Tropics.