An appreciation of American history is creating significant economic benefits for a number of modern cities today. It turns out that communities that make extra effort to preserve historic sites, buildings and districts are creating healthy, wealthy sectors where tourism and businesses thrive.
A prime example is San Antonio, Texas, which is home to one of America’s most famous historic sites, The Alamo. But San Antonio also has 28 other districts that enjoy special protection under historic preservation zoning ordinances.
Areas that contain one or more buildings listed for special protection as historic heritage sites are protected from demolition orders and aggressive development. They are zoned in ways that give them special tax breaks, but more importantly, attract tourist and the money that comes along with tourist traffic.
Even though development is carefully controlled and restricted, historic sectors of cities are not frozen in time – rather, a lot of work is done to keep these facilities modernized to accommodate current building codes and make them attractive. Extra efforts are also made to make them safe for the heavy traffic generated by visitors from outside the city.
Historic neighborhoods generate not just more tourist dollars but actually stimulate more new construction than areas of non-historic consequence.
Other examples prospering historic districts are Greenwich Village in New York, , Boston’s 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, Florida’s St. Augustine Square and the Magnolia Plantation and Garden in Charleston, South Carolina.
Studies show that despite the location within the U.S., or the relative wealth of a historic neighborhood, real estate appreciation rates in these districts easily outpace similar neighborhoods and the city as a whole. This is not always good for people or businesses located in these areas because they tend to pay much higher real estate taxes and may face other ongoing improvement or maintenance fees.
However, the bottom line is that historic sites in American cities create vibrant and economically viable places to live, work and visit.