Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

Yes Pennsylvania, there is a National Defense Transportation Day!


My blog post for May 22, 2013 will continue BHP’s recognition of one of America’s under-appreciated events – National Defense Transportation Day – celebrated on Friday May 17, 2013 in conjunction with National Transportation Week. 

As stated in President Obama’s Proclamation on May 10, 2013:

As a Nation, we have no task more urgent than creating good jobs, strengthening our economy, and reigniting the thriving middle class that has always been the true engine of America’s growth. To meet these goals, we need to rebuild the infrastructure that powers our industries. We need to make our cities more connected and more resilient to the challenges we face. We need to restore our roads, bridges, and ports — transportation networks that are essential to making the United States the best place in the world to do business.

So, one may ask, how does this relate to historic preservation in Pennsylvania beyond Section 106 and Section 4f reviews for bridge replacement projects? I want to celebrate a few historic resources that have a direct relationship to National Defense Transportation Day and their contribution to strengthening our economy and creating good jobs.

Philadelphia Navy YardThe first example is the Philadelphia Navy Yard – the country’s first naval shipyard. The origins of the Navy Yard date to 1776, when the Continental Congress leased land along Philadelphia’s Front Street docks to support the new nation’s fledgling Navy. In 1995, the Navy officially closed the Yard and listed the historic core of the shipyard as a National Register Historic District.  In 2004, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation unveiled a master plan for the redevelopment of the Navy Yard including rehabilitation of buildings for supporting office, research and development, industrial, and residential use. Among the accomplishments over the past decade, is the creation of 10,000 jobs, the establishment of over 130 businesses and the investment of over $140,000,000 in the rehabilitation of 14 buildings under the federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program. The most compelling project is the establishment of Urban Outfitters campus by rehabilitating a series of manufacturing facilities, including the recent award winning rehabilitation of Building 14.  Future work includes the rehabilitation of Building 661 as the headquarters of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster, a US Department of Energy approved Energy Innovation Hub for the development and deployment of energy-efficient building technology.






Monongahela Navigation Lock

The other example is the Monongahela River Navigation System – one of the nation’s most successful river systems – that was recognized with a PHMC historical marker on June 18, 2012 at Locks and Dam No. 3.   Originally constructed in 1838, the navigation system, which runs from Fairmount, WV to Pittsburgh and includes six other locks and dams, allowed for the transportation of millions of tons of coal and coke along the river that fueled the nation’s industrial revolution.  The marker was part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lower Mon Project’s cultural mitigation plan which began in the 1990s to upgrade the Braddock Locks and Dam downstream. Currently, it is in the process of improving Lock and Dam 4, Charleroi, upstream. The third phase of the project will eliminate the 105-year-old Elizabeth locks, located midway between the two other locks. Other preservation efforts include the preparation of a National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form for the entire system by Heberling Associates (for more information see). The Mon is still an important transportation system and the continued modernization of the system allows for improved traffic flow of raw materials and finished products that are vital to the national Monongahela Navigation Markereconomy.


Our mission is not only to maintain our roads, bridges, waterways and ports but to celebrate the historic significance of the many varied components of our National Defense Transportation network. Happy National Defense Transportation Day!

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