Press Release | Washington, D.C. | December 12, 2016

National Trust for Historic Preservation Launches New Research Tool Focused on American Cities

Atlas of ReUrbanism is the “Wikipedia meets Google Maps” of the Urban Built Environment

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is launching a new research tool that, for the first time, brings together the massive amount of existing data focused on the urban built environment. Called the “Atlas of ReUrbanism,” this tool is positioned to be a go-to source for city leaders, journalists, academics, and others for understanding how our cities are—and can be—built and shaped. This new tool will help to broaden the comprehension of cities and inform national conversations around a range of urban issues, from population density to building demolition to the percentage of women and minority-owned businesses located in America’s cities.

“Today, with more Americans than ever living in cities, the Atlas of ReUrbanism is a valuable new tool that helps us to understand the factors behind this 21st century urban resurgence,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “By bringing together the data that demonstrates the clear connections between the built environment and urban vitality, the Atlas will become an invaluable tool for city leaders, planners, and others interested in the continued success of our nation’s cities.”

The Atlas takes the massive amount of data currently available about cities and makes it more accessible for the exploration and discovery of connections between older buildings and economic, demographic, and environmental measures. The Atlas currently includes interactive maps for the five largest cities in the country – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. Later iterations will expand this data set to include information about the economic vitality, inclusiveness, density, and diversity of 50 major cities across the country, from Anchorage to Miami, Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon.

The Atlas’ initial findings include:

  • In New York, there are more racially and ethnically diverse populations, more than twice as many jobs in new and small businesses, and nearly twice as many women and minority-owned businesses in blocks with older, smaller, mixed-age buildings.
  • For Los Angeles, these areas have more than twice as many affordable rental housing units and more than twice the number of women and minority-owned businesses.
  • Chicago has 25 percent more units of affordable rental housing and 65 percent more population density in areas with older, smaller, and mixed-age buildings.

“In cities across the country, people of diverse ages and backgrounds are beginning to notice—and value—the qualities of older neighborhoods and commercial corridors,” said Mike Powe, Director of Research at the Preservation Green Lab and lead developer of the Atlas of ReUrbanism. “From walkable streets with distinct architectural diversity to adaptable buildings offering space for local entrepreneurs, the unique contributions of older buildings and blocks are essential to the success of American cities.”

The Atlas is part of the National Trust’s broader ReUrbanism work, which explores the many ways that reusing existing buildings contributes to the vitality, equity, and environmental sustainability of America’s cities.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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