Historic Houses In Baghdad Being Destroyed By Owners

An upper middle-class neighborhood in Baghdad is using the opportunity of the recent 'breakdown of law and order' to demolish their homes, which are protected by stringent historic preservation laws.
September 29, 2003, 11am PDT | Connie Chung
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"With the breakdown of law and order and the wholesale destruction of government ministries that once held meticulously maintained property records, entrepreneurial Baghdad residents, whose valuable homes had been nearly untouchable under the city's former historic preservation act, have begun to demolish them so they can build income-generating commercial or retail buildings in their place....The trend in many of the city's older districts is alarming to architects and historic preservationists who watch as Baghdad's cultural patrimony disintegrates into urban blight. Unlike other historic cities in the Arab world...Baghdad's original architectural heritage was destroyed by the Mongols in the 12th Century, and the city never fully recovered. Baghdad's urban core now is largely a collection of uninspiring concrete buildings that were constructed in the mid-20th Century, which makes the city's remaining historic houses even more significant."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Sunday, September 28, 2003 in The Chicago Tribune
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