This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

Saved from Demolition: The Cleveland House Where Langston Hughes Became a Writer – The Atlantic Cities

langston

Former Cleveland home of poet Langston Hughes. Image via Atlantic Cities

“It’s a modest but substantial dwelling, a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath colonial built in 1890 at 2266 East 86th Street in Cleveland. Walking by, you might not even notice it.  But under the steeply pitched roof in the third-floor attic, high school-aged Langston Hughes rented a room between 1917 and 1919.  The milepost was in danger of demolition not long ago. The home, like many structures in this part of town, had been neglected and then abandoned. At one point it was condemned, despite its Cleveland landmark designation.  But now the space has been completely renovated by the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation, a community housing organization, and put on the market for $85,000.”

MIT Study: Benefits of Placemaking Go Deeper Than Better Places – DC Street Blog

Placemaking

Cleveland residents led the design of “Intersection Repair,” cleaning and beautifying blighted areas. Image: Neighborhood Connections

“‘Placemaking’ activities like this one — defined as the ‘deliberate shaping of an environment to facilitate social interaction and improve a community’s quality of life’ – have important benefits that last far beyond when the street barriers are packed up and traffic returns, according to a new report by Susan Silberberg and her research team at MIT. According to their report — Places in the Making: How Placemaking Builds Places and Communities — the actual process of placemaking can be even more important than the physical outcome….Projects build social capital and empower citizens to drive change in their communities. And that can have a powerful impact long after the project’s completion. ‘The act of advocating for change, questioning regulations, finding funding, and mobilizing others to contribute their voices engages communities — and in engaging, leaves these communities better for it,’ Silberberg writes.'”

How An Aqueduct Turned Los Angeles Into a Garden of Eden – NPR

Los Angeles

Los Angeles saw a dramatic boom in growth after the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. The system delivers water from the Owens River in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to the city. Image via NPR

“‘The state of California would be different, arguably the world would be different, without the L.A. Aqueduct,’ says Jon Christensen, the editor of Boom Magazine. The publication’s latest issue looks at the 100-year anniversary of the aqueduct.  While the aqueduct brought water to Los Angeles, it also took it from somewhere else: Owens Valley. Christensen tells NPR’s Arun Rath that over the years there was a lot of anger and accusations that L.A. took the water by force.”

The Brains Behind Better Blocks – DC Street Blog

Better Blocks

Better Blocks project in Kansas City. Image via DC Street Blogs

“The Better Block project, founded less than 10 years ago in Dallas, Texas, is not only changing streets for the better — in many ways, it’s changing the urban planning process.  Better Block brings “pop-up,” temporary businesses into abandoned buildings, creates temporary bike lanes with chalk and cones, turns underused parking spaces into outdoor cafés, and generally celebrates the awesome potential of ordinary urban places. The strategy of using temporary installations — a prime example of ‘tactical urbanism‘ — allows people to reimagine their neighborhoods while circumventing time-consuming and potentially hostile regulatory and political processes.”

Report of Nazi-Looted Trove Puts Art World in an Uproar -NYT

German Art

Lennart Preiss/Getty Images
The Munich apartment building where the authorities were said to have found about 1,400 works of art that were confiscated under the Nazis or sold cheaply by owners trying to flee Hitler. Image via NYT

“The Bavarian authorities swooped in on Cornelius Gurlitt’s home and seized about 1,500 works estimated to be worth $1.4 billion, according to the news magazine Focus. German officials said the raid occurred on Feb. 28, 2012.  If confirmed, the discovery would be one of the biggest finds of vanished art in years. But word of it left almost equally big questions unanswered: Why did the German authorities let nearly two years pass before such a sizable find was disclosed? What will become of the recovered works of art? Did Mr. Gurlitt continue to make sales even after the raid? And where is he today?”

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