This is a photo of a view of the Yeoghigheny Valley from the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kentuck Knob in Chalk Hill, PA. What do we mean when we talk about “landscapes”? Are we talking about the features–both natural and man-made–within them? Or do we talk about how we relate to them? Landscapes don’t just involve “nature, gardens, and pretty views”, but can be cultural landscapes that are important to our heritage and history and “sense of self”. According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, cultural landscapes “provide a sense of place and identity; they map our relationship with the land over time; and they are a part of our national heritage and each of our lives.”
Keeping that in mind, a cultural landscape can be similar to the rural view above or it can be the urban peaks and valleys of cities like New York or Chicago. What forces come into play that can affect or challenge them? What do they mean to and for us? How can we as preservationists help to protect them and work together with other disciplines to find solutions? As we go forward and continue to define our cultural landscapes, these are questions that hopefully we will be able to thoughtfully answer.