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World Heritage in California

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Author winterkjm
#1 | Posted: 12 Apr 2010 04:04 | Edited by: winterkjm 

I am relatively new to California, but after a year of exploring I have come to recognize how unique and truly diverse this state is. Redwoods & Yosemite National Park are the only current WHS inscibed. After visiting much of the state, I began to feel there are a couple more sites that fit Unesco criteria. Here are a couple.

On a side note, is a Natural site far more difficult to get insribed than a cultural one? How can there be nearly 100 Cathedrals/Churches, but only one inscribed area that covers only a small area of Sequoia Tree's?

Currently the only Sequoia Tree's protected/inscribed under Unesco are the relatively small groves in Yosemite National Park. A far larger and superior Grove is located in Sequoia National Park in the Giant Forest where 5 of the 10 largest tree's by mass are located. These are the largest, and some of the oldest tree's in the World and are only found in California.

*Giant Forest (Found in Sequoia National Park) (Natural)

+ Why difficult to get inscribed, some Sequoia's already protected in Yosemite? I can't see many other reasons.

Recently I visited the Channel Islands off Southern California's coast and was struck by its importance as a Wildlife Sanctuary. Most Coastal Birds on the Southern Coast are born here. Also the evolutionary development of some of the species like the Island Fox, which is only found on these islands was fascinating. Concerning Marine life these islands and surrounding waters are also signifigant, it is a breeding ground for various species of Seals and is a home during the summer for large numbers of Blue Whales. Not to mention each islands own unique beauty with rugged coasts, sea caves, beaches, meadows and diverse plantlife.

*Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary (Natural)

+ Why difficult to get inscribed, buffer zones and boundaries could be an issue. Parts of the Channel Islands are owned by different bodies. The National Park controls most, but not all the land.

One of America's greatest Achitectural sites is the Golden Gate Bridge. Its had a profound impact on Bridge construction around the world and is considered a great masterpiece of modern architecture. Designed in the Art Deco style the Golden Gate is representative of some of the highest achievements in Bridge construction. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is not only the Golden Gate, but also incudes the John Muir National Monument, an ancient coastal Redwood Grove. Currently the only Redwoods inscribed on Unesco's list are in the Redwood National Park, which consists of nearly half of all the Redwood Forests. Inscribing the Golden Gate National Recreation Area would recognize and protect one of the greatest Modern Bridges and one of the these ancient Redwood Groves.

*Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Mixed)

+ Why difficult to get inscribed, already too famous, too many visitors, and already well protected

Other potencial sites
- I have mentioned previously in this forum of Watts Towers and its potencial as a WHS for "Unofficial Art" (Currently a cultural site has been added to Mexico's T list that could be desribed as similarly unofficial art which would give Watts Towers some precident for nomination)

*Watts Towers (Cultural)

+ Why difficult to get inscribed, would have no real precident, the closest is Gaudi's architecture but unlike Gaudi, Simon rodia had no formal education or training

Properties to Be Considered for Possible Future Inclusion in the Tentative List

Its strange to me that off all the potencial sites that could be judged to meet Unesco criteria for Inscription the only site even considered for future inclusion is the Gamble House. Don't get me wrong, the house is impressive and extremly well-designed. Recognized as a masterpiece of Art & Crafts Architecture, it easy to understand its potencial for possible future consideration in the US T-List. What's odd is that so many other sites have been overlooked.

*The Gamble House (Cultural)

+ Why difficult to get inscribed, maybe lacks signifigance alone, further research into a serial site. Already trying to get Frank Lloyd Wright Buidlings inscribed (one site in Los Angeles).

I am curious about some of the opinions about these sites. Do these sites in your view meet Unesco Criteria? If they do what are the reasons they are not being considered for inscription?

Giant Forest
Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Watts Towers
The Gamble House

Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 12 Apr 2010 17:29 
Well with a population of around 37 million California would certainly have picked up a few more sites if it had been an independent "developed" country - the 35th most populous. And by area (424k sq km) around 67th biggest - approximately equal to Norway.

The reasons why US as a whole is relatively under-represented are well known
a. Many years of unwillingness to deal with UNESCO - including actually breaking off relations with it between 1983-2002
b. Antipathy towards the scheme engendered by the Yellowstone buffer zone issue etc
c. The legal provisions protecting private property from being inscribed without an owner's permission
d. Neo con distrust, isolationism, American exceptionalism, etc etc!

Leaving all these negatives aside I might look at (in addition to your list), albeit without any great hope
a. A gold rush/frontier town - I rather like Bodie "ghost town". Canada has The Klondike on its T List and there is certainly room for somewhere to represent these 2 aspects of 19th century history
b. Mono Lake
c. Hollywood/Movie History - a world impacting cultural landscape! There are some authentic remains left - Old Warner Brothers studio etc.

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 13 Apr 2010 02:55 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Further to my earlier post - I have just remembered that California is the home of "Carrizo Plain" - the National Monument which was involved a few years ago in a debate about whether inscription was good for locals, a site, the country etc.
I haven't been there. Its suggested OUV was as "Unspoilt Prairie".
Local opposition was quite strong - this LA Times article portrays it as "Redneck thinking"

It didn't progress but whether due to opposition or because it lacked the credentials I don't know - have you been there Winterkjm?

Its potential didn't even reach the final stages of discussion by the committee whose minutes we have referred to elsewhere (and which did suggest that the Gamble House was worthy of future consideration although with the implication that it felt that, by itself it might struggle)

Do you know anything about how it emerged? One of the most important things any potential site requires is a "Champion" who is prepared to engage in the political and mobilisation procedures which pertain in the country concerned ie whether "democratic", "statist" or "corrupt"!

Author winterkjm
#4 | Posted: 13 Apr 2010 15:44 
Before you mentioned Carizzo Plain I had never heard of it before. Recently I have been in Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Ventura, and Bakersfield all probably within an hour or less from the Plain. If I had known I would probably would have visited the National Monument. Its unfortunate that the US wasted a great opportunity with Unesco for so many years. There are numerous National Parks and Monuments in the US that I have no doubt if located in France, Spain, Mexico, Italy, UK or China, these natural sites would already be on a Tentative List if not inscribed. Its somewhat dissapointing, because I am often suprised/dissapointed when some of my friends from other countries come to America and their first reaction and interest is to only visit LA and New York and if any Natural site, maybe the Grand Canyon. Its known, but not as well-known as it should be that America is a land of some of the most diverse and incredible National Parks on the planet. The United States is most definitely under represented concerning WHS, it is unbelievable that countries like the United Kingdom, which is about 40 times smaller in land area, has 8 more WHS than the USA? No offense to the UK, their many WHS are overall well-deserved and fantastic sites, my point is the USA's lack of representation.

Nevertheless, it is at least nice to see the US finally getting involved with Unesco. Overall, I am fairly happy with the current T-List (Besides Mt. Vernon) When I get the chance, I will take a trip out to Carizzo Plain and see this American "Serengeti" as I saw it described on a couple websites. Who knows, it seems like very few people actually know about it or have visited there.

Author Euloroo
#5 | Posted: 14 Apr 2010 09:08 
It baffles me why Sequoia & Kings Canyon isn't on the T-list. If its about sequoia's within Yosemite I agree with your argument that you may as well just list one example of a medieval cathedral. I was gutted not to make it to Watts Towers why I was in LA a couple of years ago. There's been some interesting comments about it in previous forums but at the end of the day I don't think the US would want to draw attention to Watts...

Author winterkjm
#6 | Posted: 14 Apr 2010 13:05 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Yeah I think you are right about Watts. It would be a bold statement if they nominated Watts Towers, it would shed a positive light on a neighborhood thats only been cast in a negative light. Personally I would be very happy and proud if it was eventually insribed. The Arts Center at Watts Tower is a great place and is active in the community, but they are in desperate need of funding. But like you said I doubt the US would want to draw international attention to a place like Watts, even the good things about the place.

About the Ancient Sequoia's it's just hard to believe the largest living things in the history of our planet, are barely insribed with Unesco. Particularly when they are only found in a couple sections of California. Only 2-3 relatively small groves are part of Yosemite, Mariposa being the largest.

On a side note about Carizzo Plain, I was in a bookstore yesterday. I checked all the guidebooks/travel books on California, not one had any information about Carizzo Plain. Its kind of shocking that a couple years back there was a chance to get Carizzo nominated, but the opportunity was squandered, why? Is that apparently the only reasons it was passes up, the local community was against it, and there was no real "champion" for the bid? Maybe Unesco needs a PR campaign in the US or something to hightlight it's goals and what the organization actually does.

Author Assif
#7 | Posted: 4 Jan 2011 03:58 
The Gamble House was among the sites considered for the current tentative list. It was rejected by the commity for its low chances to get inscribed.
Carizzo Plain was considered but removed due to objection from the oil industry.
Bodie, Golden Gate, Sequoia Park and Hollywood all seem to be worthy additions to the world heritage list. It is a shame they weren´t even considered for the tentative list.

Author winterkjm
#8 | Posted: 11 Apr 2011 03:58 | Edited by: winterkjm 
Well, it only took a year before I made it out to Carrizo Plain National Monument. Where to start? Does it deserve to be listed as a Unesco world heritage site? Judging from the current state of the monument I would say no. There certainly was glimpses of an "American Serengeti", however I was too often distracted from the beautiful landscape. For example there is a long row of two-tiered power lines that intersect the northern boundary of the plain. Another unfortunate reality within the plain is the large numbers of cattle that graze in specific areas of the park. The cattle are fenced in by miles and miles of barbed wire fence that cannot help but make the scenery feel more like a beautiful ranch instead of a sanctuary for Tule Elk, Pronghorn Antelope, and a wide array of rare bird species. It is stated the cattle are being used to graze only in areas containing exotic plant species not native to the plain. There may be some truth to this, but it also smells like a deal struck with the ranchers. I can't imagine Unesco would insribe a US site with these issues. These are the negative aspects of the plain, nevertheless there are sections of the plain that are truly outstanding. The northern section of the monument around the saltwater Soda Lake is incredible. Wildflowers bloom in huge patches everywhere in spring, and a short walk will allow you to see countless birds within the expansive wetland. (Many of these birds are rare migratory species.) Apparently there are fantastic cave paintings at Painted Rock in the center of the plain. I regret that I never made it to the paintings, though partially damaged by people defacing them, they are still reportedly exquisite. Unfortunately they are only accessible by reservation on Saturdays by group tour that runs 4 hrs. Overall the Carrizo Plain has potential to become a world heritage, though this would take many years as there are many barriers beside the largest one of mixed community support.

Author winterkjm
#9 | Posted: 12 Apr 2011 05:05 
The idea of a Hollwood nomination is an interesting one. Living in LA, on almost a daily basis I pass by historic theaters, some turned into "Swap Meets". Many of the old Art Deco theatres are in really rough shape. Besides Art Deco, the numerous historic theatres in LA vary from French Baroque to Churrigueresque. Solivigant mentioned the Old Warner Brothers studio, but I think any Hollywood nomination would have to be a muti-component nomination. Some ideas for a serial nomination:

Old Warner Brothers Studio (Hollywood)
Pantages Theatre (Hollywood)
Los Angeles Theatre (Downtwown)
Orpheum Theatre (Downtown)
Million Dollar Theatre (Downtown)
Wiltern Theatre (Wilshire Blvd)

Another potential world heritage site in California is the state parks in Big Sur
- Point Lobos State Park
- Andrew Morela State Park
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Migratory Whales pass though the coastal waters of Big Sur on their way back and forth from Mexico to Alaska (perhaps a transnational site could be considered?) Also the coastal waters act as a sanctuary for a wide variety of bird, plant, and underwater species. The kelp forests, small islands, and forests along the coast are all part of an important intact ecosystem.

Author winterkjm
#10 | Posted: 20 Feb 2012 17:46 
I visited Carrizo Plain April 10, 2010 and just recently again February 12th 2012. My first visit was in large part focused on the northern section of the park (Soda Lake and the San Andreas Fault area.)

What a difference 2 months makes! In April spring wildflowers blanket the plain and Soda Lake is nearly flooding. In contrast Carrizo Plain in February is very much a dry plain. Indeed Soda Lake is 100% dried up leaving only dried salt.

Furthermore, in my latest visit I made a self guided tour (by reservation) of Painted Rock. The hike here was beautiful and Painted Rock did not dissapoint, the pictographs were fascinating. Nevertheless, the pictographs have suffered greatly from vandalism and weathering.

On my second visit I spotted two Pronghorn Antelope. They are very small and fast. I was informed the pronghorn have had a hard time. The Tule Elk on the other hand are prospering. Currently, there is research being conducted in what is causing the weak state of the pronghorns in Carrizo. All cattle fences in the park have been altered to allow better mobility of the antelope. The lower portion of the fences have been altered to smooth wire, not barbed, as the antelope can freely pass through the fence in this manner. Both Tule Elk and the Pronghorn are both re-introduced species.

Talking to a very informative park employee, I was told much about the state of the park, unique places, and other interesting facts. For most visitors the 20 miles of unpaved road in the southern portion of the park is a major inconvenience. This 20 miles of gravel road make Carrizo Plain 3hrs from Los Angeles instead of 2hrs. Many locals would like the road to be paved, but unfortunatly having cars go by at plus 45 mph would kill many Pronghorn Antelope and other wildlife. My wife experienced this road twice now, and though she loves the beauty of the plain, she said this was her last time!

Perhaps, Carrizo would be an appropriate nomination in a future tentative list by the United States (10 years or more). For as it stands now, Carrizo Plain is still in a major developing stage. The three organizations that manage the national monument are active in purchasing private land within the park. Furthermore, the surrounding communities have very real interests in Cattle ranching, Solar Energy industries, and/or oil. From my perspective the monument is moving in the right direction, but there is much work to be done. The park employee also told me they are currently working to get funds for a new visitor center, as the one used currently is very small.

Here are my pictures from both visits.


Author winterkjm
#11 | Posted: 7 May 2014 21:35 | Edited by: winterkjm most-powerful-city-brands-revealed

The Top 5 Cities highlighted in this list have around 12 WHS between them. The one that has zero is at the top: Los Angeles. So what does LA have when it comes to branding? Currently LA is in the process of developing a regional tourism (LA County) framework that highlights the full scope of what the Southland offers to visitors. Undoubtedly overdo, but the article does have one thing right, LA is transforming. Is it New York, London, Paris, or Seoul? No, but Los Angeles has a different set of attractions altogether of what visitors can experience, the contrasts are unique.

"The report measures two aspects of a city's brand: its "assets" – attractions, climate, infrastructure (particularly transport), safety and economic prosperity – and its "buzz", a combination of social media (Facebook likes and Twitter sentiment analysis) and media mentions. Assets and buzz were each graded out of 10; the numbers were added to produce a total score."

Major Draws & Key Information:

Weather: 330 days of sunshine a year
Beaches & Coast: Malibu, Palos Verdes, Beach Cities
Modern Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright, Greene & Greene, Richard Nuetra, Frank Gehry (Art Deco, Movie Palaces)
Parks: Griffith Park (1,740 ha in the city)
Sport: NBA: Lakers/Clippers, NHL: Kings, MLB: Dodgers, MLS: Galaxy
Plummeting Crime Rate: Homicide rate (per 100,000 population) 7.8 compared to 34.2 in 1980
Expanding Public Transport & Bike Lanes: 80 Metro Rail Stations (23 under construction)
Major Industries: Hollywood Film Industry, Fashion Hub, Aerospace Technology
World Class Museums: The Getty, The Huntington, LACMA, Norton Simon
Major Universities: UCLA, USC, Cal State: Northridge

With the Frank Lloyd Wight Buildings nomination, Los Angeles will receive its 1st world heritage site (albeit a serial property) as early as 2016.

Author meltwaterfalls
#12 | Posted: 8 May 2014 07:23 
I read that article the other day, I must admit I am a bit sceptical of it. It mostly seemed to be a bit of free advertising for the consultancy firm and a nice list which is good Click Bait.

The methodology is pretty shonky and basically was always going to come up with a Western biased set of results. For example the 'Buzz' is apparently the same for Beijing and Shanghai as it is for Nairobi. Not really convinced on that. And apparently no-one really talks about Tokyo, well compared to Buzz titans like Lisbon and Lagos?

The results basically show that LA is very good at generating talk about the city within outlets used by Westerners and thus it has a marketable brand. I guess the main factor in this will be the Film Industry being based there, and the associated events generate an inordinate amount of 'Buzz'.

Author Solivagant
#13 | Posted: 8 May 2014 08:56 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Sport: NBA: Lakers/Clippers, NHL: Kings, MLB: Dodgers, MLS: Galaxy

I don't think these "brands" cut a lot of ice outside USA. Wasn't Galaxy the name of the football (sorry "soccer"!) team which, long ago, took some ageing football player from UK - "Brickham" or similar - but would anyone from outside USA, go out of their way to watch them?

Re Hollywood - I see it recently figured among the "10 most disappointing destinations in the world" "Hollywood has it all—if by "all" you mean aggressive people dressed up as movie characters who want you to pay them for a picture, a sidewalk with some stars on it, and an exceedingly creepy wax museum. Why would you want to come here unless you're a celebrity stalker? (Wait ... even if you are a celebrity stalker, stay away. Real stars don't hang out in Hollywood.)"

Just joking (mainly!!) - I have always enjoyed visiting the US (apart from those ridiculous restaurant tips) and LA certainly has it virtues, as well, I am sure, as being a place where one can have a nice life (with the right "assets"). I can fully understand why it wants to update its "brand" which is rather lopsided and no doubt out-of-date in some respects. The above "Hollywood" assessment is perhaps typical of the "problem". But this assessment reported in the Guardian and elsewhere does seem rather OTT! Nevertheless the city certainly ought to have some aspect of its significant contribution to the Twentieth Century recognised on the WH list and "Hollyhock House" seems just too minor.

Author winterkjm
#14 | Posted: 8 May 2014 10:15 | Edited by: winterkjm 
I read that article the other day, I must admit I am a bit skeptical of it. It mostly seemed to be a bit of free advertising for the consultancy firm and a nice list which is good Click Bait.

Hollywood - I see it recently figured among the "10 most disappointing destinations in the world"

LA certainly has it virtues, as well, I am sure, as being a place where one can have a nice life (with the right "assets").

Haha, I was kind of expecting this response! You could not grant LA too much praise!!! All in good fun, and none of your comments are fully wrong. I am very aware of Meltwaterfalls "mixed" feelings about LA, and I harbor no ill will, indeed I understand his (and many) peoples frustrations. Hollywood for any local is far more than the tourist fair in one section of Hollywood Blvd.

Certainly, the wealth gap in some parts of LA are shocking and disappointing (though many areas are transforming (exp: Westlake, Compton, Long Beach, Boyle Heights). But to label it this way, often leads to ignoring the incredible wealth of culture to be found in LA. These unique assets vary from Baldwin Hills - Village Green, Watts Towers, Little Tokyo, the Great Wall of Los Angeles, the Museum of Latin American Art, Olvera Street, and Mission San Gabriel Archangel.

Furthermore, the MLK parade in South LA, or the Mexico (Independence & Cinco de Mayao) events in East LA are massive. The food "culture" is nothing short of superb, you can easily find authentic and shockingly good Vietnamese, Salvadorian, Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Jewish, Indian food, and countless other cuisines throughout the city. I think no one can argue London weather is depressing compared to California, no?

This all being said, I would love to visit London and Paris right now! Back on track, concerning world heritage, The Gamble House (and the surrounding Greene & Greene neighborhood) has been selected as a potential candidate to be added to the US tentative list. Like Solivagant has previously mentioned, and I have also campaigned for, would be some kind of movie studio/palace nomination. Los Angeles, is often liked halfheartedly by visitors, but for anyone who "stays" it grows on you. I can surely attest to this, not originally being from Los Angeles myself (only 5 years now). LA lacks any must-do itinerary for the casual or adventurous traveler. Particularly in regards to the absolute necessity of a car, what does one do exactly?

This is why a regional tourism plan is so important. I am encouraged by recent developments. Right now LA tourism is essentially centered on Hollywood Blvd, an unfiltered/unguided Downtown LA, Santa Monica Pier/Promenade, and the Venice Boardwalk. Then one considers, Malibu has the best beaches, Palos Verdes has the best coast, Griffith Park has the best views, and the most "wow" factor historic site is in Watts? Not too mention Catalina island and the buffalo! There are several world class museums, but how much are actually visited by people outside California? How can the average or even experienced traveler know of the modern architecture wonderland that LA is, if these treasures are not promoted at all. Food culture, how much are the neighborhoods that produce some of America's best ethnic cuisine highlighted for anyone outside LA? Herein lies the problem.

Author meltwaterfalls
#15 | Posted: 8 May 2014 10:23 
I don't think these "brands" cut a lot of ice outside USA

I think that is fair, even as a big Sports fan, many of these aren't on my radar. My only real knowledge of the LA Clippers has come in the last few weeks, and I guess it isn't really a positive "Buzz".

If I was to pick out my highlight of LA it would be its multicultural make up. I genuinely enjoyed that, but I don't think the mix of Korean BBQ restaurants and excellent Taco stands is going to result in a WHS.

In terms of heritage assets its strongest cards are selected 20th century residential buildings, or more promising in my view but in need of some real work would be building up the movie heritage of LA into a viable WHS. The Universal Value is there, but something coherent and tangible would need to be made of it, it could be a really exciting prospect but aside from some lovely cinema's and a few neglected studio backlots I'm not really sure what built assets there are left to make into a proposal.

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