If you look at the list of the current U.S. World Heritage Sites, one thing that comes to my mind is that heritage in the United States has a lot to do with its natural world. Even places like Mesa Verde and the sites of Chaco culture, on the list because of their cultural distinction, have a unique topography. Without the land being the way it is in these places, people may have settled elsewhere. You can’t have cliff dwellings without cliffs.
If you put the buildings on this list side by side, there is an interesting glimpse of defining characteristics of American history. Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, both designed by Thomas Jefferson, the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, Pueblo de Taos and La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site express some of the ideals of the United States, but also point to an aspect of the diversity that continues to create dialog today. Pueblo de Taos is one of the most interesting building groupings in the United States, in my opinion, and is central to preserving the distinctive qualities of the Native Americans who still live there, much like they always have.
Looking at this list, and then comparing the entries to the sites nominated for inclusion on the new ” Tentative List” is one way to see what’s missing to round out the offerings.
U.S. World Heritage Sites (with dates of inscription)
- Mesa Verde National Park (1978)
- Yellowstone National Park (1978)
- Everglades National Park (1979)
- Grand Canyon National Park (1979)
- Independence Hall (1979)
- Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek (1979, 1992, 1994)
- Redwood National and State Parks (1980)
- Mammoth Cave National Park (1981)
- Olympic National Park (1981)
- Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (1982)
- La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico (1983)
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1983)
- Statue of Liberty (1984)
- Yosemite National Park (1984)
- Chaco Culture (1987)
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (1987)
- Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (1987)
- Pueblo de Taos (1992)
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park (1995)
- Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (1995)
In a series this month we’ll be covering the 14 sites that now make up the new Tentative List.