NYC Preservation Efforts Serve As Possible Model for Rwanda

Sometimes we get so involved in the minutia, we risk losing sight of the bigger picture.

Rwanda: Let’s Celebrate Our Treasures

From The New Times (Kigali)
COLUMN
18 November 2007
Posted to the web 19 November 2007

By Frank Kagabo
Kigali

As Kigali City celebrated its centenary anniversary, a number of activities to commemorate the event were carried out across the nation’s capital. From October 26 up to yesterday various activities to commemorate the one hundred years of the city manifested.

Among these events was the launch of the city’s first recreational park by the Minister of Defense, General Marcel Gatsinzi and the City mayor Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira in Kimihurura. Other events included naming of city roads, City mayors’ conference among others.

All this serves to illustrate the importance of a number of landmarks like city parks and other important structures not only in Kigali city but also in the entire country.

The centenary park will hence forth serve as a leisure center and more still a city land mark.

So as the centenary celebrations of the city have been marked with the unveiling of the park among others, we need to pause and reflect on the status of other city and national landmarks.

What is apparent is that Kigali landmarks like the Amahoro National Stadium in the outskirts of the city in Remera which are well maintained are an illustration of a city authority that clearly appreciates the virtues of keeping in good shape what sells the country to its visitors from abroad.

The national stadium, city parks and national parks which are located upcountry are always destinations for the visitors that come calling in Rwanda.

No amount of good talk, can inform peoples attitudes more than what they see with their own eyes.

Thus the physical beauty of the country most especially its capital city and other landmarks go along way in forming the perceptions of people who come from abroad to visit.

With a good initial impression, foreign visitors become ambassadors of the country at no cost.

They will always talk good of the country and this can translate into foreign direct investment into the country. Investors will want to work with an effective city authority.

As Kigali city develops, it is apparent that some old structures may have to be demolished and replaced with more modern structures as a matter of economic necessity for the owners.

However it is always a matter of factual reality that a city needs to preserve some buildings and other structures which may be designated as city landmarks.

These are pointers to the historical development and evolution of the city across time and generations.

Such landmarks serve as cultural and tourist sites for the city and the country at large.

The recently unveiled centenary park could be one of those among several others. Some cities have gone on to enact legislation aimed at preservation of city landmarks. A case in point is the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

This commission came into effect as a mechanism for implementing the New York City landmark preservation law.

This landmark preservation legislation is said to have come about following the demolition of the original Pennsylvania station to give way for the construction of the Madison square gardens in 1965.

It was aimed at protection of structures with historical significance.

Thus as we celebrate our city’s centenary anniversary and the developments that have come around in the one hundred years or so of this city, it is important to reflect on the necessity of legislating laws that are aimed at preserving some of the historical landmarks that make Kigali unique as a city.

Hypothetically speaking a commission that would result from such legislation would have the duty of determining which structures and city areas would be categorized as city landmarks.

Developments on such buildings and structures would aim at preserving historically significant aspects of the landmarks.

Private owners of such structures would be allowed to continue developing and using them while at the same time preserving the important design characteristics of such properties.

Wherever city landmarks have been preserved, they have served to inspire future generations in as far as their fore generations were concerned in terms of development.

The importance of such landmarks can be illustrated by the memorials that are erected at different historical moments in time.

They serve as a lesson to those who will come after as well as being a source of revenue from the many visitors that may want to know the history of the city through its historical sights and landmarks.

Copyright © 2007 The New Times. All rights reserved.
Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (http://www.allafrica.com/).

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