Project Description


Los Angeles is taking a significant step to protect its rich heritage by embarking on SurveyLA - a citywide survey to identify and document historic resources representing significant themes in the city's history. While Los Angeles has over 1,000 Historic-Cultural Monuments (local landmarks) and 29 Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (historic districts), before SurveyLA only about 15% of the city had been surveyed.

SurveyLA is partially funded by a $2.5 million grant from the J. Paul Getty Trust. Additionally, the Getty Conservation Institute, which has played a crucial leadership role in preparing detailed studies outlining the purpose, benefits, and best practices of a citywide survey, is providing significant technical and advisory support to the project. The project is managed by the Department of City Planning’s Office of Historic Resources (OHR).

How is the survey being conducted?

Professional historic preservation consultant teams are conducting the field surveys under the direction of the OHR. Survey teams work from the public right-of-way only and do not enter private property. They record properties using tablet PCs and digital cameras. The surveys cover the period from approximately 1865 to 1980 and include individual resources such as buildings, structures, objects, natural features and cultural landscapes as well as areas and districts (archaeological resources will be included in a future survey phase). Significant resources reflect important themes in the city's growth and development in various areas including architecture, city planning, social history, ethnic heritage, politics, industry, transportation, commerce, entertainment, and others.

Field surveys started in 2010 and are being completed in three phases by Community Plan Area (see the Phasing Plan).

All tools and methods developed for SurveyLA meet state and federal professional standards for survey work. These include the following:

Citywide Historic Context Statement (HCS): The HCS, still in progress, is a narrative document that identifies themes representing the multi-faceted history of Los Angeles and relates those themes to existing resources or "property types" that will be the focus of field survey efforts. The HCS helps to predict the location, type, quantity and quality of resources to be found in a specific theme and provides a structure to evaluate these resources. The HCS Outline and Resource Guide are available for viewing.

The Historic Context Summary Tables have been published. They list all the different combinations of theme and property type within each of the contexts. The tables also provide information on eligibility standards, essential characteristics and integrity considerations for each themed property type considered.

Field Guide Survey System (FiGSS): This survey tool is a custom-designed computerized GIS database that is used in the field by surveyors. Essentially it "translates" the HCS information into data fields. The FiGSS helps ensure that large survey teams apply consistent, objective evaluation criteria and standards across the entire city. The Field Guide to Survey Evaluation is a training and user manual for historic preservation consultants and interns which explains how to apply SurveyLA's methods using FiGSS.

Community Outreach and Participation Program: The Office of Historic Resources has developed a comprehensive and award-winning outreach program to elicit meaningful community input on the survey project. The program considers multi-lingual needs, inclusion of traditionally underrepresented groups, and focuses on resources of social and cultural significance. See Participate for current outreach efforts.