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The Idea of Heritage Development

Executive summary

Buffalo's Opportunity

The Economics of Heritage Development

Urban Design and Heritage Development

Exhibit of Historic Views

Heritage Development
- a Case Study

Group Discussion Sessions

A Summary of the Conversation

Content Analysis
(coming soon)


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There are seven miles of paddling on the Augusta Canal, upstream of the city of Augusta - Courtesy of The Augusta Canal National Heritage AreaNow what are the lessons for Buffalo? I donít know because thatís for you to decide. What kind of people does this sort of work take? Money magazine just published their list of the 250 best and worst jobs in the United States and I think the best ó number one ó was financial planner and number 250 was something like commercial fisherman or fire fighter. A friend of mine commented on that list, and she didnít see heritage developer in that list anywhere. We decided that maybe thatís because what we do, what you do, requires a bit of skill from number one to number 250. From financial planner all the way down to cleaning up some bloody, smelly messes and putting out fires.

Get ready for that. Itís very hard work. Itís very challenging work. But it can also be the most satisfying work in the world. And this really is the first step. Itís the culmination of a lot of little steps that youíve taken, but this conversation is the first major step.

Twenty-five years ago this kind of thing didnít happen. Twenty years ago it started to happen in a number of cities. I think all of you know the names of these places: Baltimore, Burlington, San Antonio, Boulder, Minneapolis, Charleston. It is no accident that these places are now also some of Americaís top tourism destinations.

Charleston, for example: Mayor Joseph P. Riley and a half a million Charlestonians have utterly performed miracles in the last 20 years. They now attract 1.2 million visitors who leave behind 2.5 billion dollars. Now, Mayor Riley will tell you that most of this economic activity is due to the fact that they embarked upon a very strong and strict heritage preservation program. Thatís the real fabric of the city. Visitors come there to enjoy this fabric. But, more and more, they are learning the stories behind those facades: that every one of those buildings we see in the historic district in Charleston really represents 10,000 acres and 5,000 slaves somewhere out in the country.

They also come to eat and to shop and to drink and to stroll and to drink some more. And because of that, Mayor Riley claims that another 2.5 billion is left behind in the city. Now, Iím not suggesting that you can, or should, do in Buffalo and the Niagara region what Augusta or Charleston did, but there are lessons to be learned.

Remember from our colleague in South Carolina: you use what you got to make money. The logic of this is pretty basic. Itís taking place in Charleston, in Savannah and in a lot of other places that weíve mentioned, but also in Fort Collins, Colorado; Pittsburgh; Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Cleveland; the lower Susquehanna area of Pennsylvania; Chicago; Louisianaís Atchafalaya Basin; and Decorah, Iowa, to name a few of these 150 places.

Now for some of these places I wouldnít pack my bags just yet because theyíre still very much works in progress. But the same can be said of Augusta and Charleston because now theyíre having to plan what happens next. Remember what Jerry Adelmann said last night? Constant change. Constant refreshment. You gotta keep that going. And a lot of these places that are embarking on heritage development are doing so with considerably fewer resources than you people have right here.

Iíve learned a lot about heritage development over the last ten years, particularly the last three years. Even though, in every place, the geography is different, the history is different, the weather is different, the foods are different, the stories are different, the politics are different, the financing is different, the early actions are different, there is something quite wonderful going on. All of us that you are going to hear today have the great good fortune to travel to a lot of these places, and to help the residents begin to think about what they want to do with their heritage.

Whenever I go to a new place ó and just in the past month Iíve been able to see some remarkable things in Louisiana and Alabama ó I have developed a little checklist of my own. And, it doesnít really matter the priority that they end up in. Itís a checklist of ten items. It changes all the time. And it dawned on me, particularly after a recent trip to Louisiana, that Iím not the one who makes the priorities on this list because the consultant doesnít do heritage development. The community does heritage development. You do heritage development. Iím going to share that list with you anyway.

First: Does this place have a unique story to tell? Is this unique story compelling? Are there physical resources to help you tell the story? Do residents really care about the story?

Second: Does this place have interesting geography, mountains, rivers, lakes?

Third: Does this place think regionally? Because heritage development has to be regional.

Fourth: Are the ideas grassroots, homegrown? Are they fairly mature ideas or are they just knee-jerk reactions against something? Can the process of heritage development actually suit the place? Itís essential that heritage development come from the grassroots, and at least the grass tops, up and not from the top down.

Fifth: Can the people in the organizations in this place form partnerships? Is there enough civility, enough good humor, and enough good will, to form partnerships and to at least meet your potential partners half way? Heritage development is built on partnerships and there are some remarkable partnerships out there.

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