The Alexandria, Virginia, historic district has been considered one of the best national examples of the application of historic preservation principles to guide development of a city while preserving historic resources. A superficial examination finds a town rich in historic resources, ranging from the eighteenth century to the twentieth, that has grown and changed while keeping appropriate scale and massing. However, after a critical look at a variety of planning issues, one finds that the legacy of preservation has been mixed. With ever-increasing impact over the last fifty years, development in the core of the city has been managed primarily through preservation controls. One of the results is a cap on the height of buildings and a resulting uniformity of design. These limits may inhibit both future growth and the flexibility to incorporate changes in transportation, parking, and building technology. Looking ahead, these issues will have to be faced as public funding and resources diminish and support for historic preservation research and documentation dwindles.
The full article is available at Project Muse.
Image: Map showing Georgetown, Washington, D.C., to the north with Alexandria, Virginia, to the south, 1835. The District of Columbia was an emerging city at this time between the two areas. (Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division)