Mon. Jun 5th, 2023

There’s not a single American city that enjoys the coveted designation of UNESCO Planet Heritage status, an international categorization that brings focus, tourism and preservation. Could San Francisco be the very first? 

That is the vision of a strategy spearheaded by Karalyn Monteil, the former director of the nonprofit San Francisco Heritage, who is beginning a new position at UNESCO in June. 

When a city is designated a Planet Heritage website, it rises above the category of a neighborhood or national landmark—it signifies it is one thing critical to all of humanity. 

“Think about the pyramids in Egypt,” Monteil mentioned. “Everyone in the globe desires these to constantly be there, and individuals would come collectively to shield them.” 

The notion of San Francisco as a Planet Heritage website has just moved 1 step closer to realization. Crucial stakeholders—including Wealthy Hillis, San Francisco preparing director, and Diane Matsuda, president of the Historic Preservation Commission—have agreed to launch a job force to pursue the nomination, Monteil mentioned. 

But it is not just beauty that tends to make San Francisco distinctive, according to Monteil. 

“We must also highlight the LGBTQ history and culture of San Francisco,” Monteil mentioned. “Because by performing so, it would be the only Planet Heritage website in the globe with an LGBTQ theme.”

The Planet Heritage Committee has currently been carrying out an evaluation of exactly where there are gaps on its list, which could finish up providing San Francisco a organic benefit. 

“We currently have 30 quaint Italian towns with the church on a hill in Italy, but LGBTQ is nowhere,” Monteil mentioned. 

Walkers stroll from Baker Beach to Marshall Beach close to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. | Maryann Jones Thompson/The Typical

Though formalizing a nomination requires an typical of 3 years, the city is not beginning from zero. 

“San Francisco has place so a lot work into preparing historic context statements and landmarks nominations,” Monteil mentioned. “A lot of the study is out there and currently published.” 

Nonetheless, the approach would be lengthy and could face quite a few hurdles.

“A lot of it depends on the politics,” mentioned Francesco Bandarin, director emeritus of the UNESCO Planet Heritage Centre. “The mayor is really critical.” 

There are also logistical challenges with the designation itself. Component of the purpose no American cities are on the UNESCO list is that, as opposed to other nations, the U.S. demands that all home owners are on board with a Planet Heritage designation—an not possible job when you are seeking across the landscape of an complete city, Bandarin mentioned. 

But by focusing on organic landmarks—like Golden Gate Park, the biggest park in the country—and iconic landmarks that have only 1 owner such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the city could move forward with its proposal. 

“It’s a worldwide icon,” Bandarin mentioned. “But it is not truly an international city, and this would increase its status.” 

Rio de Janeiro, a city that is currently on the UNESCO list, could be made use of as a model, exactly where a complicated of organic and cultural landscapes surrounding the city have been deemed collectively to give the city Planet Heritage status, Bandarin mentioned. 

“Whether the approach is long—or even successful—it’s time to bring some power about the extraordinary attributes that San Francisco has,” mentioned Tia Lombardi, SF Heritage board member who previously oversaw the public affairs applications at the Presidio Trust. 

“People are forgetting how exceptionally attractive this city is,” Monteil mentioned. 

By Editor

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