Echoes in a Changing Urban Landscape: Memories and Place Identity in Durham, North Carolina Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Ward, Ashley
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • As former manufacturing cities attempt to participate in a modern economy no longer dependent upon manufacturing, aging infrastructure like factory warehouses become a potential asset. Rather than demolishing historic buildings, some cities are taking advantage of tax incentives and a public shift toward hip urban spaces, and remaking their city to fit a Creative Class culture. The process of remaking place incorporates the historic legacy of the place, the collective identity of its residents, and the contemporary ideal of a creative urban space. Much of the literature discussing place remaking or the rise of the Creative Class city focuses upon the recent transformation of demographics, culture, and economy. Often overlooked is the historic context and the role of the place's collective identity. Demonstrated here are the benefits of incorporating historic context. Also demonstrated are the important role played by residents' collective identity and how this identity is an intimate contributor to the landscape. The renovation of the historic landscape is efficient for cities and it is an attraction for the Creative Class, but it is also a critical period for people who are attached to historic sites. Through the use of oral histories, I am able to examine the complex nature of these relationships, discovering intricacies in the process of place remaking that are otherwise difficult to determine. GIS mapping technology is used to further investigate historic trends and their role in current identity making. Three major points regarding collective identity and place remaking are uncovered. First, the oral histories reveal that the formation of a collective identity connected to a particular place is not dependent upon a shared, identical experience. Second, a collective understanding about the quality of a place can be generated based upon the unique circumstances of one group. The creation of a shared place identity is not only dependent upon the agents involved in the place making, but also the bystanders (or witnesses) to such efforts. Finally, when the integrity of place is honored and sites retain meaning, the function of the place can be fluid. Place is not static.
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  • In Copyright
  • Birdsall, Stephen
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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