The National Park Service regards the use of historic contexts as a foundation for the preservation planning process, yet there appears to be a disconnect between the creation of historic contexts and their use by local planners. Preliminary inquiries suggest that the role of contexts in the planning process is not clearly understood, and that the purpose and usefulness of historic contexts themselves are not clear to those that rely on them. This confusion has led many to assume that contexts are of secondary importance, to be developed after the completion of physical resource inventories and then only as time allows. This paper will look at the current role of historic contexts in the preservation planning process and how their usefulness as a framework for a broader perspective of the planning landscape may also increase the overall effectiveness of preservation planning.
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