Los Angeles' citywide historic context statement (HCS) provides the framework for identifying and evlauating the city's historic resources. The Office of Historic Resources is guiding development of the HCS as part of SurveyLA.
What is a Historic Context Statement?
Historic contexts differ from other types of narrative histories in that they are meant to identify important themes in history and then relate those themes to extant historic resources or associated property types. Themes may relate to development patterns and trends, such as Post WWII Suburbanization, as well as social, cultural, and historical topics such as the Civil Rights Movement. Historic contexts establish the significance of themes and topics and then provide specific guidance to field surveyors regarding the characteristics a particular property must have to be a good example of a type. In short, the Los Angeles context statement distills much of what we know about the city's evolution and development, and then helps establish why a particular place may be considered historically or architecturally significant within one or more of these themes. While the HCS was primarily developed as a resource for professional field surveyors, it is a tremendously useful source of information for researchers and the general public.
Organization of the Historic Context Statement
The HCS is organized into nine broad contexts (listed below) which cover the period from about 1780 to 1980 and are specific to Los Angeles. Each of the contexts is comprised of a number of themes, with more than 200 themes and sub-themes overall, reflecting the richness of Los Angeles' heritage. Ethnic and cultural contexts have also been developed as “stand alone” documents, but with themes included within the overall citywide framework. The HCS structure is designed to avoid repetition and be expandable over time. It focuses on extant resources, rather than attempting to document Los Angeles' "lost" historic places.
The HCS follows the Multipe Property Documentation (MPD) format and complies with the standards and guidelines set forth by the National Park Service (NPS) and the California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP). Publication of the HCS is ongoing as the context and theme narratives are completed.
Developing a comprehensive HCS for a city as large and complex as Los Angeles has been an enormous undertaking. Since 2006, the OHR has worked with consultants to develop the structure and format for the HCS and more than 40 historic preservation professionals, interns, and volunteers have played a role in its completion. The Office of Historic Resources is indebted to all individuals, organizations, and programs that contributed to developing the HCS.