America's Most Endangered Places
Little Havana in Miami, Florida is among American sites most at risk
Each year since 1998, the National Trust for Historic Preservation
(www.nationaltrust.org) has released a list of 11 historic sites across the country that are in danger of being lost forever. Inclusion on the list does not guarantee a site's survival, but it does generate publicity for the locations and in many cases leads to increased conservation efforts. Here is the 2015 list, in no particular order.
1. A.G. Gaston Motel
The A.G. Gaston Motel was a luxury hotel for African-Americans during segregation. Civil Rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. stayed at the motel and used it as a hub for strategic planning. Today, the motel sits vacant and faces increased deterioration.
2. Oak Flat
Oak Flat is a sacred site to the San Carlos Apache and other Native American tribes. A land exchange that was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 would open the site up to mining. Protected in the past by Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, Oak Flat houses many cultural resources including archaeological, historical, and gathering sites.
3. The Factory
West Hollywood, California
The Factory was built in 1929 to accommodate the booming success of the Mitchell Camera Corporation. Mitchell Cameras revolutionized filmmaking and continued to influence camera technology until the digital era arrived in the early 2000s. Following the camera company’s move to the suburbs in 1946, The Factory was converted to serve a series of new uses--most famously, Studio One, a pioneering gay disco that opened in 1974.
4. Grand Canyon
A sacred site for numerous Native American tribes as well as a National Park and a World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon is threatened by encroaching development proposals ranging from uranium mining to elaborate tourist resorts that would forever mar this beautiful and sacred place. Not only would these proposals threaten the grandeur and majesty of the Grand Canyon, they could also disrupt an underground aquifer that is the main water source for the region.
5. Fort Worth Stockyards
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth Stockyards National Register historic district is emblematic of the establishment of the livestock industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was central to the cultural and economic development of several western states. As the first industry in Fort Worth, the stockyards, and later the adjacent packing plants, transformed Fort Worth from a small frontier community into a major economic center. Today, the area attracts more than three million visitors annually, and its historic architecture, streetscapes and cultural identity are economic drivers for heritage tourism and local businesses. The stockyards are threatened by plans to implement a nearly one billion square-foot, $175 million redevelopment project in the Historic District.
6. Old U.S. Mint
San Francisco, California
Significance: Built in 1874, the Old U.S. Mint in San Francisco is a National Historic Landmark and one of the very few downtown buildings to survive the 1906 earthquake and fire that devastated the city center. The "Granite Lady" remains a commanding presence just south of Market Street, an area that is being transformed by an unprecedented tech-fueled construction boom.
7. East Point Historic Civic Block
East Point, Georgia
The East Point Historic Civic Block is a rare cohesive example of civic architecture. Located at the heart of the predominantly African American community of East Point, the block has not only born witness to decades of the community’s history, but speaks to the city’s Depression era experience and to the Roosevelt Administration’s determination that New Deal programs be crafted for the American public. The four iconic historic properties are suffering a potential fate of demolition by neglect. The National Trust and partners like the East Point Preservation Alliance and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation encourage the City of East Point to preserve, protect and consider alternatives to demolishing the community’s most iconic publically-owned properties.
8. Little Havana
Little Havana is mixed use, walkable, series of neighborhoods that has long been home to generations of Cuban Americans. It is composed of residential blocks intersected by commercial streets, creating a self-sustaining community where goods and services are located within walking distance of area residents. Little Havana contains unique local variations of iconic American architectural typologies, such as the bungalow, the walk-up apartment, and the courtyard apartment.
There are two main threats to the Little Havana neighborhood: upzoning; and the lack of protections for scattered, historic building types. Owing to Little Havana’s ideal location—close to Downtown Miami and the Brickell Financial District—upzoning represents a critical threat to the historic scale and character of Little Havana, while the lack of protections for its scattered historic buildings leaves many important buildings in Little Havana unprotected.
9. Carrollton Courthouse
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Carrollton Courthouse served as the seat of government for Jefferson Parish until the City of Carrollton was annexed by New Orleans in 1874. It is one of the most important public buildings from Carrollton’s days as an independent city and is one of the city’s most significant landmarks in New Orleans located outside of the French Quarter.
Now, this stately Greek Revival building, designed by one of New Orleans’ most noteworthy architects, Henry Howard, is threatened with an uncertain future as the Orleans Parish School Board prepares to sell it with no preservation safeguards in place.
10. South Street Seaport
New York, New York
The South Street Seaport features some of the oldest architecture in New York City. The Seaport’s restored 19th-century commercial buildings transport visitors back in time, evoking the commercial trade of that era. Located along the East River, adjacent to the Financial District, the South Street Seaport is unique for its continuous relationship to the waterfront and its status as the focal point of the early maritime industry in New York City.
While the Seaport is a locally designated historic district, and is separately listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is currently under threat due to a series of development proposals that would disrupt the look, feel and low-scale historic character of the Seaport.
11. Chatauqua Amphitheater
Chautauqua, New York
Chautauqua Amphitheater is a National Historic Landmark located 70 miles southwest of Buffalo, N.Y. Known colloquially as the Amp, the Chautauqua Amphitheater, which has hosted a wide range of leaders, activists and artists over its 122-year history, is threatened by the Chautauqua Institution’s plan to demolish the Amp to make way for a new building. Chautauqua transformed American life as the first multi-use retreat in the U.S. that is an arts colony, music festival, village square and summer encampment all in one, spawning dozens of “daughter” Chautauquas throughout the U.S. Chautauqua programs have explored important religious, social and political issues of the day; engaged individuals and families in response to these issues; and fostered excellence in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.