The aging icons of New York City's waterfront are vanishing faster than the Brooklyn accent of "dese, dem, and dose." A preservation group wants to do something about it, declaring the area one of the most endangered places in the country.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation on Thursday placed the industrial waterfront of Brooklyn on its list of 11 most endangered historic places.
It is the 20th year the trust has sought to save distinctive examples of architecture from the wrecking ball.
The group warns that development could destroy the 1925 Hialeah Park race course in Florida; mom-and-pop motels stretching west along Route 66 from Illinois to California; and historic tribal lands of the Kashia Pomo Indians in Sonoma County, Calif.
In New York, a frenzy of residential development threatens to devour much of Brooklyn's working-class waterfront.
"Change is inevitable in this history-rich area, but it must be managed," said the organization's president, Richard Moe.
Lofts as way to save heritage?
He urged city planners and developers to adapt the warehouses to residential lofts, much like the trendy Manhattan neighborhood of Soho.
The Municipal Art Society is particularly upset over the destruction of a Civil War-era ship repair dock still in use until it was dismantled to make way for a parking lot for an IKEA store.
Also on the trust's list are huge swaths of seven East Coast states where the federal government is trying to spur the construction of power lines to improve the aging electricity grid.
"We shouldn't have to choose between the electricity we need and the heritage we cherish," said Moe.
The government says local authorities have stymied high-power transmission lines for so many years that Washington needs to step in to reduce the threat of sweeping blackouts like the one that struck the Northeast in 2003. Small towns along the proposed paths of these lines are fighting the decision.
The proposed East Coast corridor includes large parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.
It is unclear where new lines would go up. Opponents fear the construction could despoil the historic battleground at Gettysburg, as well as the Piedmont area of Virginia and upstate New York.
Other areas named to the most endangered list were el Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail, N.M.; H.H. Richardson House, Brookline, Mass.; historic structures in Mark Twain National Forest, Mo.; Minidoka Internment National Monument, Jerome County, Idaho; master blacksmith Philip Simmons' workshop and home, Charleston, S.C.; and Pinon Canyon, Colo.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit group founded in 1949. It has compiled a "most endangered" list since 1988.
Additional background is online at www.nationaltrust.org