A few days ago, I posted about a new book and a 1966 movie that claimed that there was a strong connection between 1960s era urban renewal projects in Victoria and the historic preservation movement. Yesterday, the Journal of Urban History released its March 2013 edition online, and one of the articles is a case study about the connection between urban renewal and historic conservation. Here are the central arguments of the article:
This article debunks the dominant narrative that midcentury city planning practices incited the preservation profession, which then embraced the conservation and rehabilitation of everyday urban landscapes. The research, focusing on urban renewal planning in Philadelphia, shows how preservationists in that city held a limited view of what counted as “historic,” leaving planners with the power to decide the fate of the vast majority of the city’s built environment… Overall, midcentury planners, facing market constraints, combined demolition and redevelopment, conservation and stabilization, and pristine historic restorations. Their retention of older buildings was not based on a sense of historic value, but rather a pragmatic desire to ease plan implementation and use limited funds to make the greatest impact in a struggling city. In the end, it was planners—not preservationists—who saved vast swaths of the city’s landscape.
Citation: Stephanie R. Ryberg, “Historic Preservation’s Urban Renewal Roots: Preservation and Planning in Midcentury Philadelphia,” Journal of Urban History, 39:2 (March 2013), 193-213.
This case study seems to suggest that the connection between urban renewal and historic conservation may be similarly complex in Victoria, an idea that I will seek to verify or reject in my continuing research on this topic.