Research & Policy Lab Insight: Percent Locally and Nationally Designated

By Carson Hartmann posted 05-31-2019 14:55


The staff of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Research & Policy Lab will be sharing short insights that use the lab’s data analysis and visualization capabilities to demonstrate the power and potential of preservation. We hope you’ll find these insights engaging, dynamic, and fun. 

We have leveraged data from the Atlas of ReUrbanism to display the percent of all buildings in cities that are either on the National Register of Historic Places or designated locally historic—individually or as part of a district. National averages for rates of local and national designation are presented as dotted lines for easy comparison. 

As you might notice, rates of designation vary widely by city and between regions. For example, nearly one-fifth of properties in Washington, D.C., are locally designated compared to just 0.5 percent of Seattle’s properties. In Baltimore, the rate of National Register designation is a whopping 34 percent. In Austin, Texas, it’s less than 1 percent. Discrepancies like these point to the differences between cities—be they in local political context, in economic climate, or in perspective on historic preservation. 

You also might notice higher-than-expected designation rates or the lack of data in some cities. Due to the lack of information on contributing status in historic districts, we included noncontributing properties in our counts. On the other hand, some data simply weren’t available digitally. These limitations in detail and availability point to a larger opportunity to collect, digitize, and democratize more data on America’s historic resources. 

What city-by-city differences or patterns stand out to you? Any surprising discrepancies, rates, or data gaps? Join the conversation on Forum Connect.

Carson Hartmann is the research manager for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Research & Policy Lab.