Los Angeles Department of City Planning

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What Makes a Resource Historically Significant?

Historic-Cultural Monument designation is reserved for those resources that have a special aesthetic, architectural, or engineering interest or value of a historic nature. The Cultural Heritage Ordinance establishes criteria for designation; these criteria are contained in the definition of a Monument in the Ordinance. A historical or cultural monument is any site (including significant trees or other plant life located thereon), building, or structure of particular historical or cultural significance to the City of Los Angeles, such as historic structures or sites:
  • in which the broad cultural, political, economic, or social history of the nation, state, or community is reflected or exemplified;
  • or
  • which are identified with historic personages or with important events in the main currents of national, state, or local history;
  • or
  • which embody the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural-type specimen, inherently valuable for a study of a period, style, or method of construction;
  • or
  • which are a notable work of a master builder, designer, or architect whose individual genius influenced his or her age.

A proposed resource may be eligible for designation if it meets at least one of the criteria above.

When determining historic significance and evaluating a resource against the Cultural Heritage Ordinance criteria above, the Cultural Heritage Commission and the staff of the Office of Historic Resources often ask the following questions:

  • Is the site or structure an outstanding example of past architectural styles or craftsmanship?
  • Was the site or structure created by a “master” architect, builder, or designer?
  • Did the architect, engineer, or owner have historical associations that either influenced architecture in the city or had a role in the development or history of Los Angeles?
  • Has the building retained “integrity”? Does it still convey its historic significance through the retention of its original design and materials?
  • Is the site or structure associated with important historic events or historic personages that shaped the growth, development, or evolution of Los Angeles or its communities?
  • Is the site or structure associated with important movements or trends that shaped the social and cultural history of Los Angeles or its communities?