One of the oldest, largest and best preserved bison cliff jump locations in North America and one of the earliest planned and most fully-realized urban renewal projects of the mid-twentieth century are two of four sites designated today as national historic landmarks.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump, in Cascade County, Mont., is a prime monument to how hunter-gatherer societies herded bison and drove them off cliffs as a mass procurement strategy.
Detroit’s Lafayette Park is the first project in the country to earn the landmark designation for its role in the urban renewal process and joined the recent surge of new sites significant to the history of people of color in the U.S.
Last month, the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service designated as national historic landmarks four courthouses significant to the civil rights movement.
The national historic landmark designation recognizes the sites as places that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump’s monumental record of stone surface architecture, deeply stratified bison bone deposits, multiple tipi ring concentrations, and extensive evidence of ceremonies indicate that, for approximately 5,700 years, First Peoples Buffalo Jump held the paramount position in the Northern Plains “bison culture.”
Lafayette Park succeeded in creating an ethnically-diverse community that continues to thrive today and is generally regarded as one of the best and most successful examples of a residential urban renewal development in the nation. It was a collaborative design endeavor between architect (Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), developer (Herbert Greenwald), planner (Ludwig Hilberseimer), and landscape architect (Alfred Caldwell).
The Detroit development holds the largest collection of works by Mies van der Rohe, one of the pioneers of modern architecture. It also was a lightning rod for controversy as the Black Bottom neighborhood, poor and largely African American, was razed to make way for modern housing for wealthier people.
The two other designees are:
George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, Va.: Among the most architecturally significant projects to honor George Washington and one of the boldest private efforts to memorialize him, this eclectic building combines neoclassical architecture common to American memorials and civic buildings with a modern skyscraper design.The Grand Lodges of the states and territories, which usually operate independently, joined forces to build this national memorial.
Red Rocks Park and Mount Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, Jefferson County, Colo.: The amphitheater in the park is one of America’s best known performing arts venues, famous for its natural acoustics, design, and setting. The outstanding architecture and landscape architecture illustrate the principles and practices of New Deal-era naturalistic park design and master planning in a metropolitan park as well as the use of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) labor to develop such a park. Mount Morrison CCC Camp is one of the few surviving camps in the nation that retains a high concentration of original resources.
Established in 1935, the National Historic Landmarks Program is administered by the National Park Service on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior. The agency works with preservation officials, private property owners, and other partners interested in nominating properties for National Historic Landmark designation. Completed nominations are reviewed by the National Park System Advisory Board, which makes recommendations for designation to the Secretary of the Interior. If designated, property ownership remains the same, but each site receives a plaque and is eligible for technical preservation advice.