Title

Historic Preservation’s Urban Renewal Roots: Preservation and Planning in Midcentury Philadelphia

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-2013

Publication Title

Journal of Urban History

Abstract

This article analyzes the intersection of historic preservation and city planning in post-WWII Philadelphia. Using over forty-five area plans, the city’s 1960 Comprehensive Plan, and contemporary media reports, the article explores the relationship between the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the Philadelphia Historical Commission, the first citywide preservation commission in the United States. The article debunks the conventional wisdom that midcentury clearance and redevelopment strategies galvanized the historic preservation movement. Rather, the Philadelphia case demonstrates that the preservation community adopted a narrow definition of “historic,” while a rehabilitation ethic permeated the Planning Commission’s conservative approach to renewal, ultimately resulting in the retention of existing buildings, the integration of older fabric with modern infill, and the implicit preservation of much of the city’s residential built environment.

DOI

10.1177/0096144212440177

Volume

39

Issue

2

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