Civil Rights and Historic Preservation: A Case Study from Northern Virginia

The civil rights debates of the 1960s and 1970s influence city planning in Alexandria, Virginia to this day.

Read Time: 1 minute

December 23, 2020, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Old Town Alexandra

King Street in Old Town Alexandria. | Stephen B. Goodwin / Shutterstock

Vernon Miles shares news of a new book that tells the history of civil rights and historic preservation Alexandria, Virginia, and how these two goals came into conflict in the development of the county's old town historic district since the 1970.

Local historic preservation consultant John Sprinkle presented excerpts from a forthcoming book to the Alexandria Board of Architectural Review, highlighting the central role of historic preservation in debates about development and displacement over the years. The narrative shared by Sprinkle is one of a dual process of desegregation and displacement: As Alexandria expanded Old Town in the 1970s, Black residents displaced by higher property taxes moved into "formerly all-white working class communities in Del Ray and Arlandria."

Violent conflicts that took place in the area had a "profound impact" on planning in Arlington, according to Sprinkle. "The historic preservation at the time started to shift toward neighborhood conservation. The city pursued grants from National Endowment for the Humanities that focused on conservation as part of an experiment designed to address forecasted displacement of African Americans in the north-western quadrant,” writes Miles.

Friday, December 18, 2020 in ALX Now

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee