The Power of Place: 
Urban Landscapes as Public History

Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award

Association of American Publishers, Best Book Award, Archaeology and Anthropology

American Sociological Association, Robert Park Award, Community and Urban Sociology, finalist 

Based on her extensive experience in the urban communities of Los Angeles, historian and architect Dolores Hayden proposes new perspectives on gender, race, and ethnicity to broaden the practice of public history and public art, enlarge urban preservation, and reorient the writing of urban history to spatial struggles.

In The Power of Place, Hayden outlines the elements of a social history of urban space to connect people's lives and livelihoods to the urban landscape as it changes over time. She then explores how communities and professionals can tap the power of historic urban landscapes to nurture public memory. The book documents a decade of research and practice by The Power of Place, a nonprofit organization Hayden founded in downtown Los Angeles. Through public meetings, walking tours, artists' books, and permanent public sculpture, as well as architectural preservation, teams of historians, designers, planners, and artists worked together to understand, preserve, and commemorate urban landscape history as African American, Latino/a, and Asian American families have experienced it.

Drawing on similar efforts around the United States, from New York to Charleston, Seattle to Cincinnati, Hayden advocates a broad new movement across urban preservation, public history, and public art to accept American diversity at the heart of the vernacular urban landscape.

Endorsements and reviews of the book:

Hayden invents a totally original method of 'storytelling with the shapes of time.' The result is an almost poetic invocation of the resilience of the human condition, grounded in both theoretical understanding and practical experiences of place-making and preservation.

— Michael Dear

The Power of Place is a graceful manifesto that enlists Dolores Hayden's formidable skills as a writer and architectural historian to argue for new ways to understand and represent the social history of urban space.

— Carl Abbott, Reviews in American History


The Power of Place is a well-timed, well-reasoned call for fusing history and the environment to create a more democratic and inclusive interpretation of the places in which most of us live and work. Ms. Hayden greatly strengthens preservation with arguments that give the historic environment a critical dimension beyond beauty and rarity.

— Joseph Giovannini, The New York Times Book Review