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National Historic Landmarks





A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, site, structure, or object that is officially recognized by the United States government for its national-level historical significance. Out of more than 85,000 places on the National Register of Historic Places only about 2,500 are NHLs.

A National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) is a historic district that has received similar recognition. The district may include contributing properties that are buildings, structures, sites or objects, and it may include non-contributing properties. Contributing properties may or may not also be separately listed.

Creation of the National Historic Landmark program

Prior to 1935, efforts to preserve cultural heritage of national importance were made by piecemeal efforts of the United States Congress. In 1935 Congress passed the Historic Sites Act, which authorized the Interior Secretary authority to formally record and organize historic properties, and to designate properties as having "national historical significance", and gave the National Park Service authority to administer historically significant federally-owned properties[1] Over the following decades surveys such as the Historic American Building Survey amassed information about culturally and architecturally significant properties in a program known as the Historic Sites Survey.[2] Most of the designations made under this legislation became National Historic Sites, although the very first designation, made December 20, 1935, was for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri. The first National Historic Site designation was made for the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on March 17, 1938.[3]

In 1960 the National Park Service took on the administration of the survey data gathered under this legislation, and the National Historic Landmark program began to take more formal shape.[4] When the National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966, the National Historic Landmark program was encompassed within it, and rules and procedures for inclusion and designation were formalized. Because listings (either on the National Register, or as an NHL) often triggered local preservation laws, legislation in 1980 amended the listing procedures to require owner agreement to the designations.[5]

On October 9, 1960, 92 properties were announced as designated NHLs by Secretary of the Interior Fred Andrew Seaton. The first of these was a political nomination: the Sergeant Floyd Grave and Monument in Sioux City, Iowa was officially designated on June 30 of that year, but for various reasons, the public announcement of the first several NHLs was delayed.

Criteria

NHLs are designated by the United States Secretary of the Interior because they are:

  • Sites where events of national historical significance occurred;
  • Places where prominent persons lived or worked;
  • Icons of ideals that shaped the nation;
  • Outstanding examples of design or construction;
  • Places characterizing a way of life; or
  • Archeological sites able to yield information.

Overview of current NHLs

Of the approximately 2,500 NHLs, three states (Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York) account for nearly 25 percent of the nation's NHLs. In addition to these states, three cities within these states (Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City) all separately have more NHLs than forty of the 50 states. In fact, New York City alone has more NHLs than all but five states: Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York (the latter of which has the most NHLs of all 50 states). There are NHLs in all 50 states. There are 74 in the District of Columbia, 15 in Puerto Rico and other U.S. commonwealths and territories, five in U.S.-associated states such as Micronesia, and one in Morocco.[6][7]

One hundred-twenty-eight ships or shipwrecks have been designated as NHLs.

Other

About half of the National Historic Landmarks are privately owned.[8] The National Historic Landmarks Program relies on suggestions for new designations from the National Park Service, which also assists in maintaining the landmarks. A friends' group of owners and managers, the National Historic Landmark Stewards Association, works to preserve, protect and promote National Historic Landmarks.

If not already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, an NHL is automatically added to the Register upon designation. About three percent of Register listings are NHLs.[9]

See also

References

External links

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  • National Historic Landmarks Program – official website
    • A History of the NHL Program
    • List of NHLs
  • National Historic Landmarks: Archaeological Properties
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