22 Noteworthy Preservation Anniversaries in 2016
The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus famously observed that time is a river, constantly flowing and is always in flux, making every moment in history ephemeral and bound to be washed away by the current. While we cannot change the properties of time and make a bygone event return in the literal sense, commemoration is a way for us to ensure that something from the past doesn’t disappear entirely.
2016 in particular brings many anniversaries of major events in American history and the historic preservation movement. So we at SavingPlaces.org have compiled a list of 22 events (in years divisible by five), some of which everyone learned about in grade school and some that might surprise you.
170 Years Ago
September 4, 1846: Daniel Burnham is born in Henderson, New York. Burnham was an architect and urban planner strongly influenced by Greco-Roman classicism and was an important figure in the Chicago School of architecture. His most famous works include the Flatiron building (New York, New York) and Union Station, now a National Treasure (Washington, D.C.).
160 Years Ago
September 3, 1856: Louis Sullivan is born in Boston, Massachusetts. He is considered to be the father of American modern architecture and had a strong influence on the Prairie School. His most famous buildings include the Prudential Building (Buffalo, New York), the Chicago Stock Exchange building (Chicago, Illinois), and the Wainwright Tomb mausoleum (St. Louis, Missouri). Sullivan was also the inspiration for the character of Henry Cameron in Ayn Rand’s novel "The Fountainhead".
140 Years Ago
June 25-26, 1876: The Battle of the Little Bighorn takes place in Montana. Allied Arapahoe, Lakota, and Northern Cheyenne troops defeat Colonel George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. Read about archaeological digs at the site of the pivotal battle.
130 Years Ago
March 27, 1886: German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is born in Aachen, Germany. Mies van der Rohe is considered to be one of the pioneers of modern architecture. His most recognizable works include Lafayette Park in Detroit; the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.; IBM Plaza in Chicago; and National Trust Historic Site Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. (Bonus: Read about how Farnsworth House inspired Batman’s Modernist house in the recent Batman vs. Superman movie.)
120 Years Ago
May 18, 1896: The United States Supreme Court upholds the “separate but equal” doctrine. The landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision maintained that state laws allowing for the racial segregation of schools are constitutional. Read more about a historian’s study of the struggle to desegregate schools.
110 Years Ago
June 8, 1906: President Theodore Roosevelt signs the Antiquities Act. This law gives the American president the authority to create national monuments in order to protect lands with cultural, scientific, or natural significance. (And on the lighter side, these lands make terrific movie sets!) In September that same year, Roosevelt declared Devil's Tower in Wyoming the country's first National Monument. Since then, however, this useful law has been under constant threat in Congress—take action today and urge your representatives to support it.
100 Years Ago
January 1916: Dr. Carter G. Woodson establishes the Journal of Negro History. This academic publication has since been renamed The Journal of African American History and is the leading scholarly journal on African-American history. In 2001, the Carter G. Woodson House was placed on the list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
May 4, 1916: Jane Jacobs is born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Jacobs was a journalist and early preservationist. She organized a movement that protested against the building of a highway across Lower Manhattan that would destroy many historic buildings and displace families and businesses. Ultimately, Jacobs and her followers were successful in blocking the proposed highway. Read more about this great victory for preservationists.
July 8, 1916: Philip Johnson is born in Cleveland, Ohio. Johnson was a luminary of modern architecture. His most iconic buildings include the Meteor Crater Visitors Center (Winslow, Arizona) and National Treasure New York State Pavilion and Seagram Building (both in New York City). Perhaps his most famous work, however, is the Glass House, a site of the National Trust in New Canaan, Connecticut.
August 25, 1916: The National Park Service is established. On that day, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created this new bureau in the Department of the Interior whose purpose was to conserve national parks and monuments with historical or natural significance. This year, in honor of the National Park Service’s Centennial, we have joined with National Geographic and American Express for Partners in Preservation: National Parks to award $2 million in grants—as decided by your votes—to historic sites at our beloved national parks. Vote today!
90 Years Ago
October 12, 1926: Cesar Pelli is born in San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina. The Argentine-American architect is known for being a master designer of skyscrapers. His famous works include the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which used to be the tallest buildings in the world.
80 Years Ago
March 1, 1936: Completion of the building of the Hoover Dam (Nevada/Arizona). When the Hoover Dam (see top photo) was completed, it was the largest hydroelectric facility in the world. Today, it is one of the 20 largest dams in the world, and the largest concrete gravity dam.
75 Years Ago
December 7, 1941: Japan bombs the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, Hawaii). The unprovoked attack, which resulted in more than 2,000 American deaths, caused the United States to enter the Second World War. In 2001, the National Trust listed Ford Island, the centerpiece of the Pearl Harbor National Historic Landmark District, as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
70 Years Ago
May 12, 1946: Daniel Libeskind is born in Lodz, Poland. Libeskind is one of the most influential contemporary architects. His many famous works include the One World Trade Center in New York, New York; Zlota 44 tower in Warsaw, Poland; Jewish Museum Berlin in Germany; and Imperial War Museum North in Greater Manchester, England.
60 Years Ago
June 29, 1956: President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. This creates a large intercontinental network of highways, transforming American tourism forever. Check out our story on retro rest stops.
December 20, 1956: The Montgomery bus boycott ends. This famous example of civil disobedience in response to racial segregation began in response to rider Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger. Learn what happened to the bus where the incident took place.
50 Years Ago
1966: With Heritage So Rich is published. This 1966 volume of essays, poetry, photography, and policy recommendations laid the foundation for the passage that year of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and jumpstarted the modern preservation movement. With five decades now in the rear view mirror, the Fall 2015 issue of Forum Journal dove into the opportunities and challenges facing the preservation movement in the coming 50 years.
October 15, 1966: President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the National Historic Preservation Act, the primary federal law governing the preservation of cultural and historic resources in the United States. The act also created the National Register of Historic Places, the National Historic Landmarks list, and State Historic Preservation Offices. The impact of the NHPA cannot be overstated; it recognized historic preservation as an important policy of the United States and emphasized the need to provide national leadership in furthering this policy. To that end, the act directs the federal government to actively promote the preservation of historic and prehistoric resources by administering the national preservation program in partnership with state and local governments, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiians
October 15, 1966: The Department of Transportation Act establishes Section 4(f), one of historic preservation's most important legal tools. The law states that any federally assisted transportation projects may not "use" land from a historic site or park, among other environmentally-sensitive areas, unless 1) there is "no feasible and prudent alternative" to using the site, and 2) the project includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the site.
45 Years Ago
July 1, 1971: The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s San Francisco office opens. It is located in the historic Hearst Building, where the San Francisco Examiner was headquartered for many years.
15 Years Ago
September 11, 2001: Al-Qaeda terrorists hijack planes and fly them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (New York City) and Pentagon (Washington, D.C.). Thousands of civilians are killed in what was one of the most tragic events in American history. In 2006, the National Trust listed the World Trade Center Vesey Street Staircase as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
5 Years Ago
January 26, 2011: Walmart drops its plans to construct a super-store at Wilderness Battlefield. After a multi-year effort, the retail giant announced that it would preserve and not develop its 52-acre site on the Wilderness Battlefield, adjacent to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park in Orange County, Virginia. The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition included the Civil War Trust, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, National Parks Conservation Association, Piedmont Environmental Council, Preservation Virginia, and National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Did this list jog your memory about other preservation-related anniversaries? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your additions!