Heritage vs History

Topics: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Maya Lin, History Pages: 3 (956 words) Published: December 5, 2011
Robyn M Driscoll
Heritage vs. History

As a society we are always looking to the past for many reasons, to learn from our mistakes, successes, experiences, to have a better understanding of where you come from, the list goes on. Society takes a personal view on what is or isn’t historical and what makes something important or not. There are two ways to distinguish the past, history and heritage. The history tends to be the cold hard facts, the truth with no emotion, no personal reference. Heritage has more depth and relation to certain events, people, and society. There are many examples of this throughout history, architecture is no exception and when it comes to preservation these issues tend to come up and decisions have to be made about what is important to remember and pass on to next generations.

The past tends to be thought of historical and accurate in context, but what about those stories your grandfather told about walking ten miles in the snow uphill to get to school, although it may not be completely the truth there may be some truth scaled down within the statement. Lowenthal describes the past as home and safe, a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia is where people can relive the past; he describes this as a tangible connection to the past. With architecture that tangible piece can be the structure itself. David Lowenthal talks about history as true hard facts with proof of how and why. This is a much more educated description of what happened and what makes something historic.

Just like anything else preservation can be subjective from person to person, as can the definitions of history and heritage. John Brinkerhoff Jackson describes heritage as collecting items for association with the past of historical events. He states that heritage can be embellished to the point where you can’t see the original anymore. He refers to this as an interpretation of history. Jackson states that “history means less the record of significant events and...
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