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Balancing progress and preservation (the two aren’t mutually exclusive, you know)

November 18, 2010

Art in the Age of Reproduction's storefront

Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction recently did a post called “Losing Landmarks” on history, landmarks, loss and what we lose.  The focus of the post was Philadelphia’s threatened Church of the Assumption (previously discussed in this blog) and Cramp’s Shipyard, but the big question is:  “What price progress?” The blog notes:

While it is important to focus on the needs of today, we can’t forget that the present is ephemeral and will soon be a part of history, that unwavering beacon lighting our way.

Then highlights the insightful Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed by Michael Greenle, excerpted here (click link below for full piece)

Outmoded buildings are difficult to reuse. But rather than abandoning them, we should ask that our public institutions be more patient in protecting them, identifying developers, and extending their lives for future generations. This means supporting the Callowhill Neighborhood Association’s appeal of the Assumption decision, working with groups such as the Preservation Alliance and the [Partners] for Sacred Spaces to nominate and reuse outmoded but significant buildings, and asking city officials to fully fund Historical Commission staff to handle building and district nominations. We should encourage public officials to preserve the city’s fabric as not just a legacy of the city’s past, but a keystone of its future.  — Michael Greenle in the Philadelphia Inquirer

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