Photo by Stephanie Cavacini

Historic Preservation

DVRPC's Long-Range Plan addresses elements such as climate change and energy initiatives, local food production, and cultural and historic landscapes, among others. Inclusion of these topics illustrates the linkages between land use, the environment, the region's economic competitiveness, and the transportation network, and the need for comprehensive solutions.

Historic preservation is an essential tool in two of the four key strategies of DVRPC's Long-Range Plan: Create Livable Communities and Manage Growth and Protect the Environment.

DVRPC has identified over 120 livable communities that already exist in our region. These livable communities are diverse and range from Center City Philadelphia and large employment centers to first generation suburbs and rural villages. Many of these centers, having developed before the Second World War, are designed at a human-scale, encourage walking, and are aesthetically appealing. DVRPC advocates for the region to protect the historic and cultural resources that make these places livable through historic preservation and context sensitive design.

The Long-Range Plan aims to permanently protect one million acres of open space. Many of the places that are already protected and those that are threatened are significant cultural landscapes – another type of historic resource that includes not just buildings and structures, but also the lands, or "landscapes," around those buildings and structures that define their context. Cultural landscapes reveal aspects of our region's origins and development through their form, features, and characteristics and point toward the region's interdependence on its natural resources.

Preservation Tool Maps

Beginning in 2007 and further supported by a Preserve America grant, DVRPC catalogued different tools municipalities are employing to protect historic resources. Some of these tools are traditionally accepted as historic preservation tools, such as a historic district zoning ordnance, while other tools are traditional economic development tools that can often support historic preservation. This inventory includes municipalities that are Certified Local Governments, those that have passed historic district zoning ordinances, and/or created business improvement districts. Other tools and regional examples that are available to municipalities are detailed in the Tools section.

Tools and Sample Ordinances

In addition to inventorying traditional and nontraditional historic preservation tools, DVRPC has posted exemplary tools municipalities can employ to protect historic resources and use historic preservation as a place-based economic development strategy. Such tools include historic preservation plans or historic preservation elements to master or comprehensive plans, design guidelines, and façade grant programs.

Success Stories

Interest in the region's historic and cultural sites is strong. Many communities have protected their historic resources by creating historic zoning districts. Other communities, non-profit groups, and individuals are investing in historic sites as catalysts for redevelopment. Additionally, the region markets its history and heritage, attracting millions of tourists from throughout the country and world each year to visit our historic sites, charming towns, and scenic landscapes. This section highlights the region's established preservation success stories or success stories in the making.


Many organizations believe that historic preservation is an important part of retaining the region's identity and making the region more livable. This section highlights some national, state, county-based organizations, and some of the overlapping programs DVRPC undertakes to support historic preservation.


The activity that is the subject of these webpages has been financed in part with Federal funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior.

This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to:

Office of Equal Opportunity, National Park Service, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.

Alison HastingsAssociate Director, Communications and Engagement
Air Quality Partnership

190 N Independence Mall West, 8th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1520