Historic Preservation and the Selfie Generation- How Millennials Engage with the Past

Historic Preservation and the Selfie Generation- How Millennials Engage with the Past

It seems that no matter which news outlet you turn to, there is some form of discussion on millennials, like why they are buying avocado toast instead of houses, or why they are in so much debt, or how they single handedly ruined Applebee’s.From a historic preservation standpoint, though, millennials and their lifestyles, travels, and shopping patterns offer unique insights onto how we can preserve the past while heading into the future.

According to the study, “Millennials and Historic Preservation: A Deep Dive Into Attitudes and Values” presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, 97% of surveyed millennials feel it is important to preserve and conserve historic buildings, architecture, neighborhoods, and communities. In spite of that interest, only 62% get involved with this cause they deem as important, which prompts the question: how do we engage millennials while keeping the historic quality of communities and properties intact?

There are many ways to do so; one such way is by creating experiences. Millennials are more likely to shop, eat, and engage with places and establishments that have a unique history and culture, and while the overall experience may not be the reason, the underlying history and culture are what make these historic structures and communities special and worth preserving, visiting, and experiencing.

In addition, when it comes to lifestyle, millennials would prefer to mix the old with the new. When surveyed 44% of millennials would prefer to live in an older neighborhood with historic character as opposed to the 31% that would prefer newer neighborhood with modern amenities. Keeping this in mind, developers and preservationists can create more affordable and appealing housing that will attract millennials by developing historic buildings in older neighborhoods as opposed to demolishing them. As home to the nation’s highest population of young professionals — a staggering 35% — Boston has the exciting mixture of past and present that millennials are looking for.

Historic Boston is excited by the parallels between its mission and things that are important to the city’s millennial population. If you’re a young Bostonian between the ages of 22 and 35, help us with these questions: How would you like to get involved with historic preservation? What types of projects would you like to see? Are there neighborhoods in Boston that you would like to see focus on? Send your feedback to Kellie at kellie@historicboston.org, or in true millennial fashion tweet it to us @HistoricBoston.