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 of over 90,000 places (~3%) listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places, are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.
The U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) classifies its listings by various types of properties. Listed properties generally fall into one of five categories, though there are special considerations for other types of properties which do not fit into these five broad categories or fit into more specialized subcategories. The five general categories for NRHP properties are: building, district, object, site, and structure.
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the president and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of Congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.
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.
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.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. Most of the designations made under this legislation became National Historic Sites, although the very 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.
The Historic Sites Act of 1935 was enacted by the United States Congress largely to organize the myriad federally own parks, monuments, and historic sites under the National Park Service and the United States Secretary of the Interior. However, it is also significant in that it declared for the first time "...that it is a national policy to preserve for public use historic sites, buildings, and objects of national significance...". Thus it is the first assertion of historic preservation as a government duty, which was only hinted at in the 1906 Antiquities Act.
The United States secretary of the interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior in the United States is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources; it oversees such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Park Service. The secretary also serves on and appoints the private citizens on the National Park Foundation board. The secretary is a member of the president's Cabinet. The U.S. Department of the Interior should not be confused with the Ministries of the Interior as used in many other countries. Ministries of the Interior in these other countries correspond primarily to the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. Cabinet and secondarily to the Department of Justice.
The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. It was created on August 25, 1916, by Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act and is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The NPS is charged with a dual role of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of the places entrusted to its management, while also making them available and accessible for public use and enjoyment.
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.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.
On October 9, 1960, 92 properties were announced as designated NHLs by Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton. The first of these was a political nomination: 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.
Frederick Andrew Seaton was an American newspaperman and politician. He represented the U.S. state of Nebraska in the U.S. Senate and served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration.
The Sergeant Floyd Monument is a monument on the Missouri River at Floyd's Bluff in Sioux City, Iowa, USA. The monument honors Charles Floyd, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who died on the upstream voyage in 1804 and was buried here.
Sioux City is a city in Woodbury and Plymouth counties in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 82,684 in the 2010 census, which makes it the fourth largest city in Iowa. The bulk of the city is in Woodbury County, of which it is the county seat, though a small portion is in Plymouth County. Sioux City is located at the navigational head of the Missouri River. The city is home to several cultural points of interest including the Sioux City Public Museum, Sioux City Art Center and Sergeant Floyd Monument, which is a National Historic Landmark. The city is also home to Chris Larsen Park, commonly referred to as “the Riverfront,” includes the Anderson Dance Pavilion, Sergeant Floyd Riverboat Museum and Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Sioux City is the primary city of the five-county Sioux City, IA–NE–SD Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), with a population of 168,825 in 2010 and a slight increase to an estimated 169,405 in 2018. The Sioux City–Vermillion, IA–NE–SD Combined Statistical Area had a population of 182,675 as of 2010 but has decreased to an estimated population of 178,448 as of 2018.
NHLs are designated by the United States Secretary of the Interior because they are:
More than 2,500 NHLs have been designated. Most, but not all, are in the United States.
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 (Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City) 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.
Over 100 ships or shipwrecks have been designated as NHLs.
About half of the National Historic Landmarks are privately owned.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.
A historic house generally meets several criteria before being listed by an official body as "historic." Generally the building is at least a certain age, depending on the rules for the individual list. A second factor is that the building be in recognizably the same form as when it became historic. Third is a requirement that either an event of historical importance happened at the site, or that a person of historical significance was associated with the site, or that the building itself is important for its architecture or interior.
National Historic Site (NHS) is a designation for an officially recognized area of national historic significance in the United States. An NHS usually contains a single historical feature directly associated with its subject. A related but separate designation, the National Historical Park (NHP), is an area that generally extends beyond single properties or buildings, and its resources include a mix of historic and sometimes significant natural features.
The History of the National Register of Historic Places began in 1966 when the United States government passed the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which created the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Upon its inception, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) became the lead agency for the Register. The Register has continued to grow through two reorganizations, one in the 1970s and one in 1980s and in 1978 the NRHP was completely transferred away from the National Park Service, it was again transmitted to the NPS in 1981.
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