America's Most Endangered Places Suffer From Neglect, Popularity

America's Most Endangered Places Suffer From Neglect, Popularity

FeatheredTar, flickr

The National Trust for Historic Preservation released its annual list of America's 11 most endangered historic places on Thursday, highlighting a motley crew of besieged attractions including a Minnesota mill, a Confederate fort and John Coltrane's home.

For the first time, the Trust also amended its rankings by putting a city, Charleston, on a watch list.

The list is so wide ranging that extracting particularly trends is difficult: The oil issues surrounding Bear Butte, a mountain in the Black Hills with traditional importance to the Lakota tribe, are significantly dissimilar to the to the development issues surrounding the mill where Charles Pillsbury first produced his tasty rolls.

It would be easy to take away a "development bad, preservation good" sort of lesson, but the list reads less like a "Who's Who" than like a "Who's that?" Many of these sites are suffering from obscurity and lack of development, specifically when it comes to tourism.

For example, China Alley, a former haven for immigrant workers in Hanford, California that featured restaurants, casinos and a Taoist temple, sounds like it would be an appealing enough place to wander around and learn about Chinatown cultures from tour guides or exhibits. There aren't any. There are just some buildings. Coltrane's house is just an abandoned ranch home outside New York.

Of course there is a flip side to embracing tourism as well: The NTHP's says Charleston was placed on its watch list because "expanding cruise ship tourism could jeopardize the historic character of the city."

After residents of Charleston's old quarter filed suit against Carnival Cruise lines earlier this week, citing the effect 1,026 cabin "Fantasy" has had on their community, a lawyer representing several neighborhood organizations told Aol Travel that local politicians had failed to enact any rules governing the behavior of visiting ships.

The National Trust is now calling for a more public discussion between the citizens of Charleston and their elected officials to find ways of controlling the growth of the tourism industry, but neither side seems ready to offer specific suggestions.

So there is your weekly reminder that tourism is a profoundly fraught issue. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming: Did you see that the crazy drunk airplane lady is out of jail?

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