About Us: Why

Every day, preservationists work to save New York City’s architectural, cultural, and community treasures.

In our City this effort has been going on for well over 100 years. We have a series of laws, a Supreme Court case, and a track record of successes that demonstrate the legitimacy and urgency of preservation. New York City’s preservation movement has served as a model and inspiration for countless other communities striving to preserve their own heritage.

So why is preservation still under attack? Why must preservationists constantly reaffirm and defend their place in the life of our City?

The New York Preservation Archive Project believes that the answer to this question lies partly in the ongoing loss of a sense of preservation’s own past. As preservation pioneers pass away, their irreplaceable knowledge and their personal papers often disappear with them. As a result, preservationists themselves—not to mention the general public—are often unaware of precisely what the movement has accomplished and how those goals were achieved. How can we articulate the importance of preservation if we cannot describe its historic effects and significance?

By documenting and publicizing the history of the preservation movement, we can ensure that preservation’s influence on the architectural, cultural, and economic growth of New York City becomes a vital and intrinsic part of New Yorkers’ everyday understanding of their City.