National Historic Landmark
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A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the
United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the Federation#Federal governments, national government of the United States, a federal republic located primarily in North America, composed of 50 ...
for its outstanding historical significance. Only some 2,500 (~3%) of over 90,000 places listed on the country's
National Register of Historic Places The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official United States National Register of Historic Places listings, list of Historic districts in the United States, districts, sites, buildings, struc ...
are recognized as National Historic Landmarks. A National Historic Landmark District may include
contributing properties In the law regulating historic districts in the United States, a contributing property or contributing resource is any building, object, or structure which adds to the historical integrity or architectural qualities that make the historic distric ...
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 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 The National Park Service (NPS) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency of the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government within the United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of ...
authority to administer historically significant federally owned properties. Over the following decades, surveys such as the
Historic American Buildings Survey Heritage Documentation Programs (HDP) is a division of the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) responsible for administering the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), and Historic American Landscapes ...
amassed information about culturally and architecturally significant properties in a program known as the Historic Sites Survey. Most of the designations made under this legislation became National Historic Sites, although the first designation, made December 20, 1935, was for a National Memorial, the
Gateway Arch National Park
Gateway Arch National Park
(then known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) in
St. Louis
St. Louis
, Missouri. The first National Historic Site designation was made for the Salem Maritime National Historic Site on March 17, 1938. 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. When the
National Register of Historic Places The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official United States National Register of Historic Places listings, list of Historic districts in the United States, districts, sites, buildings, struc ...
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. On October 9, 1960, 92 places (properties or districts) were announced as eligible to be designated NHLs by Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton. Agreements of owners or responsible parties were subsequently obtained, but all 92 have since been considered listed on that 1960 date.The October 9, 1960 document is included in correspondence with the City of Charleston, South Carolina, whose was included in the list, as one of five historic districts named amongst the 92. What NARA currently provides at "Charleston Historic District" is very different from a regular NRHP or NHL submission; it includes no NRHP or NHL forms at all. Instead it includes correspondence relating to the designation of the Charleston Historic District as an NHL, and correspondence on later threats, and further on some properties in the district. It in fact includes the nation-wide study of which places were deemed eligible for NHL designation in 1960, a list including the Charleston Historic District. This was conveyed in an October 9, 1960 release from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton (pages 36-55). This includes a nation-wide list of sites eligible (p.38-53). An outline of themes identified in the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings (which the Department of the Interior was authorized to undertake in 1935 legislation) is (p.54-55). (Charleston Mayor J. Palmer Gaillard, Jr. formally accepted the designation in 1961 (pages 57, 92); three NHL candidate places were named as not having indicated interest to accept the designation.) Two letters, in 1966 and 1970, refer to the Charleston Historic District having been designated a NHL in October 1963 (pages 64 & 70). [However later NPS documents includin
this archived 2007 list of NHLs
treats the Charleston HD and others as having been listed as NHLs on October 9, 1960.] Includes correspondence, photos, plans, more. 347 pages.
The origins of the first National Historic Landmark was a simple cedar post, placed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition on their 1804 outbound trek to the Pacific in commemoration of the passing, (from natural causes) of Sgt. Charles Floyd. In time the cedar plank was replaced by a 100-foot marble obelisk. The
Sergeant Floyd Monument The Sergeant Floyd Monument is a monument on the Missouri River at Floyd's Bluff in Sioux City, Iowa Sioux City () is a city in Woodbury County, Iowa, Woodbury and Plymouth County, Iowa, Plymouth counties in the northwestern part of the U ...
in
Sioux City, Iowa Sioux City () is a city in Woodbury County, Iowa, Woodbury and Plymouth County, Iowa, Plymouth counties in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 85,797 in the 2020 United States Census, 2020 census, making it the f ...
, was officially designated on June 30, 1960, 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 The United States secretary of the interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior. The secretary and the Department of the Interior are responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land along with natural ...
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.


Current NHLs

More than 2,500 NHLs have been designated. Most, but not all, are in the United States.There are NHLs in all 50 states and the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle (Washington, D.C.), Logan Circle, Jefferson Memoria ...

District of Columbia
. Three states (
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania (; (Pennsylvania Dutch language, Pennsylvania Dutch: )), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state, state spanning the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern United States, Northeastern, Appa ...
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (Massachusett language, Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut assachusett writing systems, məhswatʃəwiːsət'' English: , ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous U.S. state, state in the New England ...
, and New York) account for nearly 25 percent of the nation's NHLs. Three cities within these states (
Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the List of municipalities in Pennsylvania#Municipalities, largest city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the List of United States cities by population, sixth-largest city i ...
,
Boston Boston (), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, state capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as the cultural and financ ...
, and
New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the L ...
, respectively) all separately have more NHLs than 40 of the 50 states. In fact, New York City alone has more NHLs than all but five states:
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States, between the East Coast of the United Stat ...
,
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, located along the West Coast of the United States, Pacific Coast. With nearly 39.2million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territori ...
, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York (the latter of which has the most NHLs of all 50 states). There are 74 NHLs in the District of Columbia. Some NHLs are in U.S. commonwealths and territories, associated states, and foreign states. There are 15 in
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico), is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
, the
Virgin Islands The Virgin Islands ( es, Islas Vírgenes) are an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. They are geology, geologically and biogeography, biogeographically the easternmost part of the Greater Antilles, the northern islands belonging to the Puerto Ric ...
, and other U.S. commonwealths and territories; five in U.S.-associated states such as
Micronesia Micronesia (, ) is a subregion of Oceania, consisting of about 2,000 small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has a close shared cultural history with three other island regions: the Philippines to the west, Polynesia to the east, and ...
; and one in
Morocco Morocco (),, ) officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is the westernmost country in the Maghreb region of North Africa. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and has land borders with Algeria to A ...

Morocco
. Over 100 ships or shipwrecks have been designated as NHLs.


Other

About half of the National Historic Landmarks are
privately owned A privately held company (or simply a private company) is a company whose shares and related rights or obligations are not offered for public subscription or publicly negotiated in the respective listed markets, but rather the company's stock is ...
. The National Historic Landmarks Program relies on suggestions for new designations from the
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency of the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government within the United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of ...
, which also assists in maintaining the
landmarks A landmark is a recognizable natural or artificial feature used for navigation, a feature that stands out from its near environment and is often visible from long distances. In modern use, the term can also be applied to smaller structures or f ...
. 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 The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official United States National Register of Historic Places listings, list of Historic districts in the United States, districts, sites, buildings, struc ...
, an NHL is automatically added to the Register upon designation. About three percent of Register listings are NHLs.


See also

* American Water Landmark * List of U.S. National Historic Landmarks by state * List of churches that are National Historic Landmarks in the United States *
Listed building In the United Kingdom, a listed building or listed structure is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, in Wales, and the Northern Irel ...
, a similar designation in the
UK
UK
* National Historic Sites,
Events Event may refer to: Gatherings of people * Ceremony A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritualistic event with a purpose, usually consisting of a number of artistic components, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan language, ...
, and
Persons A person (plural, : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of pr ...
, similar designations in
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world ...

Canada
*
National Natural Landmark The National Natural Landmarks (NNL) Program recognizes and encourages the conservation of outstanding examples of the natural history of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United Stat ...
* United States Memorials * United States National Register of Historic Places listings


Notes


References


Further reading

*Mackintosh, Barry (1985
"The Historic Sites Survey and National Historic Landmarks Program: A History"
published by the
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency of the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government within the United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of ...
, provides a much more complete accounting of the history leading to creation of the National Historic Landmarks program, and of its first decades of operation.
This collection of correspondence and documents associated with the NHL designation of Charleston Historic District
347 pages, published by
NARA The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an "Independent agencies of the United States government, independent federal agency of the United States government within the executive branch", charged with the preservation and doc ...
, includes, in PDF pages 36-55, the October 9, 1960 press release issued by Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton announcing designation of the first 92 NHLs in five major historic theme areas. Correspondence between Charleston's mayor and the National Park Service provides additional perspective.


External links


Official ''National Historic Landmarks Program'' website

A History of the NHL Program


{{US Fed Hist Sites Landmarks in the United States National Register of Historic Places Historic preservation in the United States Historic preservation 1960 establishments in the United States National Park Service areas