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Historic Cities: Issues in Urban Conservation

Edited by Jeff Cody and Francesco Siravo

This book, the eighth in the Getty Conservation Institute’s Readings in Conservation series, fills a significant gap in the published literature on urban conservation. This topic is distinct from both heritage conservation and urban planning; despite the recent growth of urbanism worldwide, no single volume has presented a comprehensive selection of these important writings until now.

This anthology, profusely illustrated throughout, is organized into eight parts, covering such subjects as geographic diversity, reactions to the transformation of traditional cities, reading the historic city, the search for contextual continuities, the search for values, and the challenges of sustainability. With more than sixty-five texts, ranging from early polemics by Victor Hugo and John Ruskin to a generous selection of recent scholarship, this book thoroughly addresses regions around the globe. Each reading is introduced by short prefatory remarks explaining the rationale for its selection and the principal matters covered. 

The book will serve as an easy reference for administrators, professionals, teachers, and students faced with the day-to-day challenges confronting the historic city under siege by rampant development.

Jeff Cody is senior project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute. He has a PhD in the history of architecture and urban planning from Cornell University and has published widely; his books include Exporting American Architecture 1870–2000. Francesco Siravo is an eminent Italian architect specializing in historic preservation and town planning. Since 1991 he has worked for the Historic Cities Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a foundation promoting urban conservation in the Islamic world.

“It is well worth the effort to take the time to savor the prose, learn from the graphic examples, and determine how to take the lessons implied by the book and apply them to actual challenges. In our post-Covid world, with so many unknown changes to come in historic cities worldwide, this book’s importance and significance is even more critical than it was, before Covid-19 came into our lives, when Cody and Siravo assembled such a stimulating cluster of readings, comments on those readings, and images that complement them.”
—Earl Kessler, Built Heritage

Historic Cities is enjoyable and informative reading, with plenty of great illustrations. It is an important resource for anyone interested or engaged in historic cities, their conservation and management.”
—Hossam Mahdy, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements

“Today’s Best Primer in its Field.”
Built Environment

“This book is an excellent primer for historic preservationists interested or involved in urban conservation and is probably most useful in an academic setting.”
—Pamela Jerome, APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology

“A book to read, refer to and revel in.”
—Graham Voce, Icon News

“Historic cities under pressure to accommodate development are the arenas within which these debates will be settled. Has conservation reached its highwater mark and will other interests hold sway in future decisions? The readings in Cody and Siravo’s masterly survey do not provide easy answers, but they certainly equip the reader with the right questions—and with the necessary understanding.”

“Successfully bringing together a wide selection of papers and extracts of papers across cultures, geographies and time. . . . This format makes for an impressive assembly of readings, a compactum as it were, as an essential reference resource on this broad but less appreciated conservation topic.”
News in Conservation

"An extraordinarily useful collection of essays on urban history and morphology that provides insights into the complexity of the ongoing discourse on the interpretation, evaluation, protection, and augmentation of historic settlements throughout the world. Essential reading for anyone interested in the present and future of our urban environments."
—William Chapman, Dean, School of Architecture, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

 "Historic cities must confront tremendous changes day-to-day. There is nothing comparable in the published literature to this new, inspiring and instructive book on urban conservation of historic cities, an anthology of most important historical and modern texts on all relevant subjects and topics of historic towns and settlememts. This book is useful and enriching for a wide-range of professionals, including architects, landscape architects, urban planners, archaeologists, anthropologists, conservationists, historians, teachers, building administrators and students."
—Dr.-Ing. Claus-Peter Echter, President at ISC CIVVIH ICOMOS (International Scientific Committee on Historic Towns and Villages)

 "This collection of international writings on urban history and conservation is an invaluable resource for students, teachers, professionals, activists—indeed, anyone interested in the care and future prospects of our historic cities and landscapes. The compilation in a single volume of such a wide-ranging (both temporally and geographically) selection of voices and issues, both familiar and unfamiliar, makes the book an indispensable companion to the urbanist or preservationist. Readers will appreciate the sensible thematic format, informative editorial comments, and illustrations as much as the historic texts themselves."
—Steven W. Semes, Professor of Architecture, University of Notre Dame

 “I am thrilled to be included in the collection, Historic Cities: Issues in Urban Conservation, recently published by the Getty Conservation Institute. The book is a fantastic introduction to the evolution of the management of historic cities and includes both established contributors as well as lesser-known, but no less valuable contributors. . . . Text selection is not always easy but the editors have made excellent choices taking into consideration a variety of factors. . . . I am sure it will become an attractive resource to seasoned experts, and as well as those new who are new to the field.”
—Jukka Jokilehto, Special Advisor to the Director General of ICCROM

632 pages
7 x 10 inches
114 color and 60 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-593-8

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute
Series: Readings in Conservation