Saturday, October 10, 2009

Historic American Landscapes Survey - What Is It?

The Historic American Landscapes Survey is a new federal program created in 2000 to document historic landscapes. It is modeled on HABS which stands for Historic American Building Survey. HABS was created in 1933 during the depression and was one of President Roosevelt's many programs created to put Americans back to work. Unemployed architects were tasked with creating records of important historic buildings as a means of "preserving" them for future generations.

In 1969 HAER was created. HAER is an acronym for Historic American Engineering Record and it used to document engineered structures like the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The Bay Bridge was damaged during the Loma Prieta earthquake and a new bridge is being built to replace the span between Oakland and Treasure Island. HAER documents will provide a permanent record of the original bridge.

One of the largest HALS projects currently underway in the United States is the documentation for Doyle Drive. Doyle Drive traverses the Presidio in San Francisco and connects the Marina District with the toll booth. This highway, constructed in 1937, is ranked 2 on a scale of 1 - 100 which means that it is seismically one of the least safe highways in the United States. Plans are underway to replace Doyle Drive. Part of this replacement project is to record the existing historic features.

The Presidio is within a National Park and as such it deserves a high level of documentation. Currently HABS, HAER and HALS documention is underway. My firm, PGAdesign Landscape Architects, is working with Jones & Stokes to complete the drawings portion of the HALS documentation. I'll tell you more about this facinating project in future postings


  1. Chris,
    Wow! Just two hours out of the CGS Blog Workshop and you have posted your first article to a new blog! Congratulations! It's wonderful to learn more about your work outside the California Genealogical Society. I look forward to learning more about Doyle Drive. (I wonder if they were related?)

  2. Chris,
    Congratulations on your new blog! I hope to learn something each time it pops up in my Google reader. I'll be blogging soon.