On October 15th, 1966, the United States promised its citizens that the government would take steps to ensure that historical buildings and structures would be protected for our posterity. This promise came in the form of the National Historic Preservation Act. The act outlines that federal agencies will review any federally funded projects to evaluate a potential impact on nearby historic properties. The act also created the National Register of Historic Places, the list of National Historic Landmarks, and the State Historic Preservation Offices.
At the time this act was passed, it was the most far-reaching piece of preservation legislation enacted in the over 100 years of the preservation movement in the United States. It was a huge win for the historical preservation community, and since the time it has been enacted it has been amended several times to strengthen its protection.
However, a piece of history is of no benefit to a society if no one visits or explores it; it comes down to the everyday person to learn for themselves the lessons that these historical buildings and structures have to teach us. Fortunately for us situated in Riverside, we have a multitude of historic destinations available for us to visit nearly every day. However, nearly every city or town has at least one historic destination nearby. All it takes is a short drive or bus ride, and a majority of these locations are family friendly. The National Historic Preservation Act plays an important role in protecting our heritage as Americans by ensuring that our children and following generations will be able to visit places and structures that played roles in the development of the country. Areas that might have been paved over in the name of progress now exist side by side our advancements, as a reminder from where we have come. These historic structures are our humble reminders that progress cannot be made overnight, and that we are constantly striving to achieve the best.
Take a short day this summer to visit one or more of these historic locations and perhaps learn a bit more about local, state, or national history as a result. For, in the words of Winston Churchill, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
Picture credit: http://www.riversideavondale.org/index.php?id=32
-Melina, Law Library Intern