Historic Preservation Law has come to mean that combination of regulations, common-law property principles, tax incentives, and adjective law in administrative proceedings, governing historic sites and property within the United States. Although Congress first recognized a need to conserve the nation's wealth of historic amenities in 1906 when it adopted The Antiquities Act, it was only with the nation's bicentennial that the volume and diversity of laws designed to maintain, protect and preserve historic America grew to the point where it could be said that a new field of law had emerged. The symposium which follows this essay represents the first attempt to comprehensively delineate the elements of this new field. The conference entitled "Historic Preservation and the Law: The Metes & Bounds of a New Field" gathered 500 persons for two days at the House of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in September of 1978.s Organized by the Association and the New York Landmarks Conservancy, this conference traversed the entire range of preservation legal issues, from asking "what is historic?" to identifying the need for law reform already apparent in this new field. The proceedings of this conference comprise this symposium. By way of introduction, this essay provides background and a conceptual framework for the presentations which follow. This essay can best introduce the symposium by delineating first the scope of regulation by exercise of the police power and the definitions for what resources are "historic," then the elements of real property law which transect these regulations, and thereafter the operation of municipal ordinances and federal procedural statutes which are the body of historic preservation law. The essay will then raise several of the thorny issues currently in dispute within this evolving field.
Nicholas A. Robinson, Historic Preservation Law: The Metes & Bounds of a New Field, 1 Pace L. Rev. 511 (1981), available at http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/387/.