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Archive for the ‘Historic Preservation’ Category

In July of this year Asian Longhorned Beetles were found in six red maple trees in a wooded area about a mile from my house in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood. Asian Longhorned Beetles bore into hardwood trees like birch, maple, and elm, eventually killing them if left untreated. Authorities consequently set up a quarantine area that includes my street. This means no one is allowed to transport firewood or yard waste out of the area, and an inspection is being conducted within the quarantine zone. There is a particular concern for the trees of Arnold Arboretum, which lies within the quarantine area.

In 2008 there was an Asian Longhorned Beetle outbreak in Worcester, Massachusetts. The city was forced to cut down 25,000 trees. Here’s a before and after comparison:

Worcester Street before, by Kenneth R. Law

Worcester Street before, by Kenneth R. Law

Worcester Street after, by Kenneth R. Law

Worcester Street after, by Kenneth R. Law

With old trees, as with historic buildings and artifacts, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. (more…)

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You’re looking at a birds-eye view of the historic district in the port city of Rauma, on the southeastern coast of Finland. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991, Old Rauma consists of about 600 wooden buildings, a particularly high concentration of 18th- and 19th-century Finnish vernacular architecture. I was there on Friday for an expert tour given by Tanja Vahtikari. The photo was taken from the tower of Rauma’s 15th-century Church of the Holy Cross.

I know Tanja through the network of urban historians at the Universities of Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku. Tanja is about to complete her PhD dissertation on UNESCO World Heritage sites, and she is using Rauma as a case study. As we spent the day meandering through the old town, with Tanja pointing out sites of interest on each block, we had a meandering conversation about historic districts, heritage policy, and 21st-century compromises.

(more…)

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