Architectures of Memory: When Growth Machines Embrace Preservationists

Kevin Loughran, Gary Alan Fine, Marcus Anthony Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of urban redevelopment demonstrate how growth coalitions and city residents use ideas about local history and culture to facilitate or oppose interventions in the built environment. Building on this literature, we introduce the concept of architectures of memory to describe methods of remaking urban space, relying on historical representations. We argue that preservation, demolition, and reproduction are practices that are often conflated but that have different dynamics in the relationship between growth and preservation. Although each advances urban planners’ visions of a historicized cityscape, they recapture that past through different design processes. Using case studies of redevelopment in Philadelphia—Independence National Historical Park and the adjacent Society Hill neighborhood, both of which were transformed through urban planning interventions post–World War II—we examine how interpretations of the built environment's economic and symbolic value influence redevelopment projects. The multiple interpretations and collective memories about the built environment create frameworks that advance, as well as contest, strategies of redevelopment. We argue that growth machines and preservationists do not inevitably have contradictory goals and strategies, but on occasion preservation and reworking of public spaces through a historical imaginary can support both growth and memory, two components of an urban elite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-876
Number of pages22
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • culture
  • development
  • history
  • memory
  • preservation
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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