This article (here) inspired a rant.
As a student of history, I support preservation over redevelopment. In the context that development should not erase heritage that is our inheritance.
In my days of living in China (“YOLOing” in our way), I have seen all too often that the “old” is thrown out. In the name of progress and “advancement”, we have seen vast piles of heritage houses demolished in Shanghai to make way for newly landscaped and manicured gardens and lakes, next to skyscraping buildings.
And in the “second tier” cities, the extent of loss is even more alarming. Historic monuments of immense importance in history are now surrounded by modern buildings so close that you cannot take a photo without that skyscraper serving as the background!
And while at some heritage sites there had been modernizing of facilities to make it more comfortable for travelers, that is positive and welcome. From our standpoint, urban renewal or upgrades to heritage sites are at the heart commercial in nature. The intent on ‘attracting’ even more people in an effort to energize the local economy. And in some places, this has been tastefully done. To the extent that people and nature can find some form of balance.
It is not just China, but also a host of other emerging nations and territories that has been clamoring to build, or rebuild. It is a good social development to have folks coming out to preserve what remains of the past. For while modern day wonders can be created, it is not the same if it the old that were demolished were to be recreated.
The situation in Singapore is the same. As the country progressed from 3rd to first world, many heritage sites were “revamped”, “cleaned up” or “restructured”. Many were demolished outright while the ones designated for preservation underwent extensive cosmetic change on the exterior.
It appears similar warnings are being bandied about for Cuba. Tours are being touted to bring you to see a side of Cuba before it all changes. Actually we think it was better before Obama’s visit. Now it appears that the change will only exacerbate.