Historic Preservation in the U.S.

The physical beauty of the United States comes not only from its diverse landscape, but also from the cities and towns that reflect our pioneer spirit and ingenuity. Our historic built resources beautifully illustrate the story of America’s transformation from a primarily rural nation to a diverse industrial society. The buildings that comprise our historic neighborhoods tell us who we are as a nation and what has happened over the past 200 plus years. They provide a living monument to our predecessors and a history lesson to our youth. The idea that the historic built environment exemplifies our national, industrial, and social development is not a new one. Since the dawn of our nationhood, Americans have seen built resources as crucial reminders of our collective history and have worked in various ways to preserve them. To understand historic preservation in the U.S. today, it is important to understand the history of historic preservation – its motivations, themes, players, places, programs, and laws.