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As repeatedly demonstrated in this paper, uncertainty is the only constant in historic preservation. From local landmark laws to the sites themselves, historic preservation is an imprecise science, susceptible to the whims of the surrounding community. However, this subjectivity should not invalidate preservation's importance – if anything, it should reinforce it. Architectural landmarks openly reflect aesthetic, historic, and cultural values in a way that other media cannot. Consensus is rare in preservation projects, and the agency required to save some structures can undermine popular sentiment; but ultimately, what a community once was – for better or worse – is seldom as telling as what it elects to keep. Sentimentality aside, preservation has proven itself a valuable economic development tool and an eco-friendlier way to adapt to changing markets than continual demolition and reconstruction. However, there will always be tension between history and progress, and properly mediating the two will usually require more than a development pro forma, an environmental impact statement, or an angry public meeting.


CMAP would like to thank the following people listed below who assisted by providing data and/or gave useful insight on the topic of historic preservation. The contents and recommendations contained herein do not necessarily reflect their opinions or the policies of the organizations they represent.

Nicholas P. Kalogeresis, AICP, Vice-President, The Lakota Group
Anthony Rubano, Project Designer, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency


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