"If we own the story, we own the place": Cultural Heritage, Historic Preservation, and Gentrification on U Street
Sies, Mary C
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This thesis investigates the roles of cultural heritage and historic preservation in the gentrification of the Greater U Street neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Its larger purpose is to critique historic preservation's contribution to urban revitalization and look closely at who does and does not benefit from this relationship. Conducting interviews with five "heritage experts" and using the materials created by Cultural Tourism DC to promote the neighborhood's rich history, culture, and heritage produce a complex view of the neighborhood and its contested stories---past and present. Through analysis of the competing stories told about the U Street neighborhood and three case study buildings (the Whitelaw Hotel, Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage, and the Lincoln Theatre), I developed a cultural critique of the heritage and preservation efforts and the gentrification process, concluding that such heritage activities do contribute to the revanchist nature of gentrification.