13 New Historic Landmarks Celebrate U.S. Diversity

Vice President Biden and U.S. Representative John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement, lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 3 to commemorate the 48th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” U.S. officials March 11 announced the designation of 13 new national historic landmarks that recognize a more complete story of America.

The new landmarks include an Alabama bridge that was the site of “Bloody Sunday” during the civil rights movement, a 400-year-old historic district showcasing the influence of Spanish culture in Puerto Rico, the home of author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, and a historic stadium used by “Negro league” baseball teams in 20th-century segregated America.

“These national historic landmark designations span more than two centuries of our country’s history, from 17th-century architecture to a Civil War battlefield to a 19th-century-Kentucky whiskey distillery that continued to operate through the Prohibition era,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in announcing the new landmarks, according to a March 11 Interior Department press release.

“Today’s designations include significant sites that help tell the story of America and the contributions that all people from all walks of life have made as we strive for a more perfect union,” Salazar said.

“From the Civil War to civil rights, to the struggles and accomplishments of women, African Americans and Latinos, these sites highlight the mosaic of our nation’s historic past,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, who announced the new landmarks along with Salazar. “We are proud to administer the National Historic Landmarks Program to educate and inspire Americans through their country’s rich and complex history.”

National historic landmarks are nationally significant historic places that possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. The program, established in 1935, is administered by the National Park Service on behalf of the secretary of the interior. Currently there are 2,540 designated national historic landmarks.

The new national historic landmarks include the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. On March 7, 1965, civil rights marchers drawing attention to the need for voting rights legislation were attacked by law enforcement officials as they crossed the span. The attack, which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” contributed to the introduction and passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, considered to be the single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress.

Old San Juan Historic District/Distrito Histórico del Viejo San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

They also include the Old San Juan Historic District/Distrito Histórico del Viejo San Juan, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is the only existing representation of an almost 400-year-old Spanish Colonial city in the United States, and it contains the largest collection of buildings representing four centuries of Spanish culture, religion, politics and architecture. It is the oldest city within the United States and its territories. The district includes the oldest house, Christian church, executive mansion, convent and military defenses in the country as well.

The other new national historic landmarks are the Camden Amphitheatre and Public Library in Camden, Maine; the Camp Nelson Historic and Archeological District in Jessamine County, Kentucky; the Casa Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez, in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Epic of American Civilization Murals at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; the George T. Stagg Distillery in Franklin County, Kentucky; the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, Connecticut; Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, New Jersey; Honey Springs Battlefield, in McIntosh and Muskogee counties of Oklahoma; Pear Valley, a wood-frame house in Eastville, Virginia; Second Presbyterian Church, an example of the Arts and Crafts design movement, in Chicago; and Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York, one of the United States’ oldest artists’ retreats.

For more information on the new landmarks, see the National Park Service website.

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