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MLK Historic Site a Unique National Park

2009-11-16-MLK_JumpRope.jpgWill Rogers pens a piece for Huff Post on balancing preservation and change, citing the story of the MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta, where another piece of the civil rights leader’s childhood street has been preserved. Rogers was in Atlanta recently to celebrate the event:

As a group of us stood watching children jumping rope on a nearby sidewalk,

Christine Farris [Martin Luther King’s sister] began reminiscing about her own childhood on Auburn Avenue, playing hopscotch and hide-and-seek with her brother and other children. And I was struck by the way that the avenue–location of both the King birth home and Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King and his father were both pastors–has been preserved by the historic site, while remaining a dynamic neighborhood, one of our few lived-in national parks.

It almost wasn’t that way. Thirty years ago, as the National Park Service was gearing up to create the historic site, The Trust for Public Land was able to get ahead of the wrecking ball and buy for the site five of the mostly derelict structures along the avenue. Over the past 30 years, all but one of the remaining homes within the designated park have been purchased, renovated, and rented, creating a vibrant, historic neighborhood. Existing renters were offered the opportunity to move back into their renovated homes at no raise in rent. And the historic district has been great for the local economy, too.

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