National Historic Landmark

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Independence National Historical Park is one of the most widely visited National Historic Landmark Districts. Exterior of the Independence Hall, Aug 2019.jpg
Independence National Historical Park is one of the most widely visited National Historic Landmark Districts.
Navajo Nation Council Chamber, the seat of government for the Navajo Nation, Window Rock, Arizona. Navajo Nation Council Chamber, January 2019.jpg
Navajo Nation Council Chamber, the seat of government for the Navajo Nation, Window Rock, Arizona.

A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding historical significance. Only some 2,500 (~3%) of over 90,000 places listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.

Contents

A National Historic Landmark District may include contributing properties that are buildings, structures, sites or objects, and it may include non-contributing properties. Contributing properties may or may not also be separately listed.

Creation of the program

Prior to 1935, efforts to preserve cultural heritage of national importance were made by piecemeal efforts of the United States Congress. In 1935, Congress passed the Historic Sites Act, which authorized the Interior Secretary authority to formally record and organize historic properties, and to designate properties as having "national historical significance", and gave the National Park Service authority to administer historically significant federally owned properties. [1] Over the following decades, surveys such as the Historic American Buildings Survey amassed information about culturally and architecturally significant properties in a program known as the Historic Sites Survey. [2] Most of the designations made under this legislation became National Historic Sites, although the first designation, made December 20, 1935, was for a National Memorial, the Gateway Arch National Park (then known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) in St. Louis, Missouri. The first National Historic Site designation was made for the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on March 17, 1938. [3]

In 1960, the National Park Service took on the administration of the survey data gathered under this legislation, and the National Historic Landmark program began to take more formal shape. [4] When the National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966, the National Historic Landmark program was encompassed within it, and rules and procedures for inclusion and designation were formalized. Because listings (either on the National Register, or as an NHL) often triggered local preservation laws, legislation in 1980 amended the listing procedures to require owner agreement to the designations. [5]

On October 9, 1960, 92 places (properties or districts) were announced as eligible to be designated NHLs by Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton. Agreements of owners or responsible parties were subsequently obtained, but all 92 have since been considered listed on that 1960 date. [note 1] The origins of the first National Historic Landmark was a simple cedar post that the Corps of Discovery placed to commemorate the passing (from natural causes) of Sgt. Charles Floyd in 1804. In time the cedar post was replaced by a 100 foot marble monument. Floyd was the only member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to perish during their historic 2 1/2 year, 8 thousand mile trek to the Pacific. [6] The Sergeant Floyd Monument in Sioux City, Iowa, was officially designated on June 30 of that year, but for various reasons, the public announcement of the first several NHLs was delayed.

Criteria

Central Park in New York City is a prominent National Historic Landmark. New York City has 116 NHLs, more than any other city in the US. Global Citizen Festival Central Park New York City from NYonAir (15351915006).jpg
Central Park in New York City is a prominent National Historic Landmark. New York City has 116 NHLs, more than any other city in the US.

NHLs are designated by the United States Secretary of the Interior because they are:

Current NHLs

More than 2,500 NHLs have been designated. Most, but not all, are in the United States.

The American Legation in Tangier, Morocco, was the first National Historic Landmark on foreign soil. Museo del Antiguo Legado Estadounidense, Tanger, Marruecos, 2015-12-11, DD 44-46 HDR.JPG
The American Legation in Tangier, Morocco, was the first National Historic Landmark on foreign soil.

There are NHLs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Three states (Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York) account for nearly 25 percent of the nation's NHLs. Three cities within these states (Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City, respectively) all separately have more NHLs than 40 of the 50 states. In fact, New York City alone has more NHLs than all but five states: Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York (the latter of which has the most NHLs of all 50 states). There are 74 NHLs in the District of Columbia.

Some NHLs are in U.S. commonwealths and territories, associated states, and foreign states. There are 15 in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other U.S. commonwealths and territories; five in U.S.-associated states such as Micronesia; and one in Morocco. [7] [8]

Over 100 ships or shipwrecks have been designated as NHLs.

Other

About half of the National Historic Landmarks are privately owned. [9] The National Historic Landmarks Program relies on suggestions for new designations from the National Park Service, which also assists in maintaining the landmarks. A friends' group of owners and managers, the National Historic Landmark Stewards Association, works to preserve, protect and promote National Historic Landmarks.

If not already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, an NHL is automatically added to the Register upon designation. About three percent of Register listings are NHLs. [10]

See also

Notes

  1. The October 9, 1960 document is included in correspondence with the City of Charleston, South Carolina, whose Charleston Historic District was included in the list, as one of five historic districts named amongst the 92. What NARA currently provides at "Charleston Historic District" is very different from a regular NRHP or NHL submission; it includes no NRHP or NHL forms at all. Instead it includes correspondence relating to the designation of the Charleston Historic District as an NHL, and correspondence on later threats, and further on some properties in the district. It in fact includes the nation-wide study of which places were deemed eligible for NHL designation in 1960, a list including the Charleston Historic District. This was conveyed in an October 9, 1960 release from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton (pages 36-55). This includes a nation-wide list of sites eligible (p.38-53). An outline of themes identified in the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings (which the Department of the Interior was authorized to undertake in 1935 legislation) is (p.54-55). (Charleston Mayor J. Palmer Gaillard, Jr. formally accepted the designation in 1961 (pages 57, 92); three NHL candidate places were named as not having indicated interest to accept the designation.) Two letters, in 1966 and 1970, refer to the Charleston Historic District having been designated a NHL in October 1963 (pages 64 & 70). [However later NPS documents including this archived 2007 list of NHLs treats the Charleston HD and others as having been listed as NHLs on October 9, 1960.] Includes correspondence, photos, plans, more. NARA collection of documents associated with Charleston Historic District. NARA. Archived from the original on May 29, 2022. Retrieved September 8, 2022. 347 pages.

Related Research Articles

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance or "great artistic value". A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Historic districts in the United States</span> Overview of historic districts in the United States

Historic districts in the United States are designated historic districts recognizing a group of buildings, properties, or sites by one of several entities on different levels as historically or architecturally significant. Buildings, structures, objects and sites within a historic district are normally divided into two categories, contributing and non-contributing. Districts greatly vary in size: some have hundreds of structures, while others have just a few.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charleston Historic District</span> Historic district in South Carolina, United States

The Charleston Historic District, alternatively known as Charleston Old and Historic District, is a National Historic Landmark District in Charleston, South Carolina. The district, which covers most of the historic peninsular heart of the city, contains an unparalleled collection of 18th and 19th-century architecture, including many distinctive Charleston "single houses". It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.

References

  1. Robinson, Nicholas. Environmental Regulation of Real Property, Volume 1. New York: Law Journal Press, 1982. pp. 6:22–23.
  2. Lee, Antoinette Josephine. The American Mosaic: Preserving a Nation's Heritage. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997. ISBN   978-0-8143-2719-7. p. 7
  3. McDonnell, Janet; Mackintosh, Barry. The National Parks: Shaping the System. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2005. ISBN   978-0-912627-73-1. p. 52
  4. Frank, Karolin; Petersen, Patricia. Historic Preservation in the USA. Berlin: Springer, 2002. ISBN   978-3-540-41735-4. p. 66
  5. Robinson, p. 6:24
  6. Lewis and Clark Expedition Journals, August 20, 1804
  7. National Park Service (November 2007). "National Historic Landmarks Survey: List of National Historic Landmarks by State" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 30, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
  8. The counts and locations of NHLs are described most accurately in List of National Historic Landmarks by state. This extends, and corrects errors from, the National Park Service's "National Historic Landmarks Survey List of National Historic Landmarks by State", also referenced.
  9. National Historic Landmarks Update Archived September 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine , National Park Service, October 2004
  10. "Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 65". US Government Printing Office. Archived from the original on February 17, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2008.

Further reading