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Video: Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

What It Is

Why is Section 106 compliance important? Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act ensures that Federal agencies consider how their actions could impact cultural resources.

Section 106 requires the Federal government consult with State and Tribal Preservation Offices and the public about potential effects to historic and cultural resources. The Federal government must identify historic assets and assess and resolve adverse effects with the intention of protecting invaluable and precious historic and cultural resources.

Why It Matters

In this short, four minute video you’ll learn about the demolition of New York City’s iconic Pennsylvania Station. Once one of the most spectacular buildings in the country, it now rests in a New Jersey landfill. The loss of Penn Station helped spark the historic preservation movement, as well as the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966.

“We will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.”

-Ada Louise Huxtable, Architecture Critic for the New York Times, October 30, 1963

Reflection

How did this video increase your understanding of Section 106 and the National Historic Preservation Act and the importance of protecting historic resources?

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  1. How did this video increase your understanding of Section 106 and the National Historic Preservation Act and the importance of protecting historic resources?
    This building was obliterated and erased from history before I was born so I was completely surprised and saddened to see such a beautiful American building now destroyed and placed in a garbage dump/landfill. The visuals in this video as well as the narrative illustrated the point that it isn’t just the “Big” structures that need to be preserved. The quotes were also particularly moving to me.

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  2. I was not aware that the demolition of Pennsylvania Rail Station and the New York Landmarks Preservation law led to the establishment of the National Historic Preservation Act. I understand that in the name of progress buildings were destroyed to allow modern structures, but what a significant loss!

  3. I was not aware that this was the historic moment in time that led to the establishment of historic preservation law. I remember as a young person mourning the loss of old buildings in my hometown that had significant history being torn down or burned in a fire exercise. Even as a young person I felt my history had been stolen by carelessness. I can imagine how devastating the destruction of this building was to those who called NY home. There is meaning invested in these places and a great responsibility to carry out our duties in preservation. Loved the video!

  4. As famous and filmed that it was, I’m surprised that a public movement didn’t rise up to save this structure. This story only affirms the importance of the law that was created.

  5. Truly a significant loss of historic architecture that can only be remember from pictures and photograghs. This decision by a handful of people had an impact upon hundreds of thousands in public outcry. There is comfort knowing that out of the rubble the National Historic Preservation Act was born .

  6. I learned that the Pennsylvania Rail Station removal led to passage of the the New York Landmarks Preservation law and eventually culminated in the passage of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act . As a result of this incident, and others, there was a national recognition of the need to preserve America’s historical and cultural landmarks, historic sites–and later–landscapes, battlefields, and prehistoric sites.

  7. It enables us to better understand the ramifications of actions without proper forethought. The key to protecting our history is to understand it from other points of view not just a single one. What is extremely important to one sector of the country may not ever seem important to another, but for future generations is is imperative we save what we can at all costs.

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  11. the Penn Station tear-down constantly comes up in conversation, over 50 years later. It’s like quotes from the Bible or quotes from Shakespeare – everyone has some notion of it. this video is a great intro, really capturing the essence of what 106 is and does. though just a youngster, I actually remember the to-do about the structure’s demise.

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  13. I’m surprised that it took so long to come up with a safeguard such as the NHPA. I suppose it took a loss as significant as Penn Station to drive home what can be lost if we aren’t diligent.
    Seeing the station in all it’s splendor only to realize how much was lost is sad. It occurs to me that it never existed in my lifetime. I would liked to have seen it.
    The act is important but it must always be remembered and never neglected or marginalized or we risk another effigy Mounds, a Penn Station or something equally tragic. The framework and process created by section 106 should always be forefront in our minds and those that aren’t aware should be introduced to it and it’s importance.

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