A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the news. Click on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.
India’s Forgotten Stepwells – Arch Daily
” It’s hard to imagine an entire category of architecture slipping off history’s grid, and yet that seems to be the case with India’s incomparable stepwells. Never heard of ‘em? Don’t fret, you’re not alone: millions of tourists – and any number of locals – lured to the subcontinent’s palaces, forts, tombs, and temples are oblivious to these centuries-old water-structures that can even be found hiding-in-plain-sight close to thronged destinations like Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi or Agra’s Taj Mahal.
But now, India’s burgeoning water crisis might lead to redemption for at least some of these subterranean edifices, which are being re-evaluated for their ability to collect and store water. With any luck, tourist itineraries will also start incorporating what are otherwise an “endangered species” of the architecture world.”
High Mileage Alterations – NYT
Many people believe owning property in a historic district regulated by the city will prevent them from making alterations to their homes in a timely, inexpensive manner and/or to suit their tastes and needs. Therefore, they approach architectural review boards or landmark commissions as enemies. In this NYT piece, residence of the city’s landmark districts were pleasantly surprised by their experiences. They get to live in some of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, with the assurance that the commission will safeguard the character, atmosphere, and property values. And will help them to make the best possible changes to their property. Win/win!
In the Badlands a Tribe Helps Buffalo Make a Comeback – Washington Post
“The Oglala Sioux and National Park Service are drafting legislation to create the first tribal national park — giving the tribe the right to manage and operate the lands — in an effort to bring buffaloes back to the grasslands where they roamed long before human settlement. These steps would reshape only a portion of the Great Plains, a landscape that has been transformed by cornfields, highways and big box stores. But for the Oglala Sioux, the wildlife that has defined their tribe and the region’s ranchers, it is a chance to reclaim an area that served as a crucible for the nation’s economic and political expansion in the 1800s.”
It’s Time To Do a Small City Well – The Burg
Many small cities could benefit from the advice this editorial directs to Harrisburg, PA. “So, what does it mean to do small city well?” asks its author, “It means putting aside grand visions and oversized projects, focusing instead on a handful of basic services that will attract more residents and visitors.” These basics include repairing its streets, sidewalks, curbing and water/sewer system. Repairing streetlights, collecting trash, and fighting dumping. Enforcing building codes and ensuring that police are effectively deployed. “It must take pains not to lose another [historic] townhouse or commercial building to neglect and the wrecking ball.” And ensure that new construction seamlessly fits into historic streetscapes. Because, “If it can do small city well, it will be able to attract people – and their money – back into town. A more prosperous Harrisburg then can make greater investments in education, neighborhood development and a variety of other good works that, currently, are utterly beyond its means.”
Examining Place Through Google – Preservation and Place
Have you ever used Google to examine a historic property? I know I have. PaP points out that when examining a historic place from Google’s bird’s eye view, you can often see more than what still exists on the property. Patterns in the grass can show you where paths, buildings, and even individual rooms within those buildings once were!