This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, which was signed by President Lyndon Johnson in October 1966. The act was passed in response to the loss of historic buildings across the country during the postwar boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Historic monuments across the country were demolished in a wave of highway construction and urban renewal. Here in Nebraska, landmark buildings such as the old Omaha Post Office were demolished as part of the redevelopment of city centers, while highway construction isolated neighborhoods and threatened historic landscapes.
Old Omaha Post Office, demolished 1966
The National Historic Preservation Act established a system to identify and protect historic resources across the nation from damage or demolition by federally funded projects. The act built upon previous federal laws, dating back to the 1906 Antiquities Act, which protected historic monuments and archaeological sites. Cities joined the federal government in passing local ordinances that embraced preservation and established commissions to identify, document, and protect historic buildings. These laws were modeled on ordinances passed by cities such as New Orleans, Charleston, and Santa Fe, which began in the 1930s to protect their historic colonial downtowns. Visit preservation50.org to learn more about the 50th anniversary of the Preservation Act and nationwide commemorations. Participate in the National Park Service’s 50 for 50 social media campaign by visiting their website. The Nebraska Historic Preservation Office will continue to provide information on the commemoration and future events via its newsletter. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here! For more information, please contact Ruben Acosta, National Register Coordinator, at [email protected]. — Ruben Acosta, Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office