National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark (NHL) is a site, structure, or object that is officially recognized by the United States government for its outstanding degree of historical significance. Out of over 85,000 places that have been listed on the country's National Register of Historic Places only about 2,500 are recognized as National Historic Landmarks.
A National Historic Landmark District (NHLD) is a historic district that has received similar recognition. The district may include contributing properties 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 National Historic Landmark program 1
- Criteria 2
- Overview of current NHLs 3
- Other 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- External links 7
Creation of the National Historic Landmark 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 National Park Service authority to administer historically significant federally owned properties. Over the following decades surveys such as the Historic American Buildings Survey 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 very first designation, made December 20, 1935, was for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 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 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 properties were announced as designated NHLs by Secretary of the Interior Fred Andrew Seaton. The first of these was a political nomination: the Sergeant Floyd Monument in Sioux City, Iowa was officially designated on June 30 of that year, but for various reasons, the public announcement of the first several NHLs was delayed.
NHLs are designated by the United States Secretary of the Interior 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.
Overview of 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. Three states (Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York) account for nearly 25 percent of the nation's NHLs. Three cities within these states (Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City) 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, California, 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, the Virgin Islands, and other U.S. commonwealths and territories; 5 in U.S.-associated states such as Micronesia; and 1 in Morocco.
Over 100 ships or shipwrecks have been designated as NHLs.
About half of the National Historic Landmarks are privately owned. The National Historic Landmarks Program relies on suggestions for new designations from the National Park Service, which also assists in maintaining the landmarks. 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, an NHL is automatically added to the Register upon designation. About three percent of Register listings are NHLs.
- American Water Landmark
- List of U.S. National Historic Landmarks by state
- Listed building, a similar designation in the UK
- National Natural Landmark
- United States Memorials
- United States National Register of Historic Places listings
- Robinson, Nicholas. Environmental Regulation of Real Property, Volume 1. New York: Law Journal Press, 1982. pp. 6:22–23.
- Lee, Antoinette Josephine. The American Mosaic: Preserving a Nation's Heritage. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997. ISBN 978-0-8143-2719-7. p. 7
- McDonnell, Janet; Mackintosh, Barry. The National Parks: Shaping the System. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2005. ISBN 978-0-912627-73-1. p. 52
- Frank, Karolin; Petersen, Patricia. Historic Preservation in the USA. Berlin: Springer, 2002. ISBN 978-3-540-41735-4. p. 66
- Robinson, p. 6:24
- The counts and locations of NHLs are described most accurately in List of National Historic Landmarks by state. This extends, and corrects errors from, the National Park Service's "National Historic Landmarks Survey List of National Historic Landmarks by State", also referenced.
- National Historic Landmarks Update, National Park Service, October 2004
websiteNational Historic Landmarks ProgramOfficial
- A History of the NHL Program
- List of National Historic Landmarks
- National Historic Landmarks: Archaeological Properties