The Coast in Peril : Preserving Puerto Rico's Historic Resources from Sea Level Rise
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work185 p.
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo view a complete copy of this thesis please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 337-6075.
SubjectsHistoric preservation -- Theses
Sea level -- Puerto Rico
Historic buildings -- Effect of climate on -- Puerto Rico
Coastal historic resources in Puerto Rico are threatened by the deteriorating effects of sea level rise. A rise of one to two meters increases the risk of coastal flooding, erosion and storm surge for the Caribbean by the end of the century. Puerto Rico’s coastal development has been intense with a great number of historic resources located in the now susceptible shoreline. My research hypothesis is: “given the threat of sea level rise a great number of historic properties located close to the receding coastline will be at risk.” National Register of Historic Places listed properties are finite resources that will be affected consequently; efforts to preserve them require future adaptations to withstand the hazards. A prioritization system is required to evaluate and mitigate resource damage prompting my research question: What classification methods are essential to creating a prioritization system for resource adaptations to mitigate damage to the most important and resilient historic resources in the wake of sea level rise? Using the triage system as a conceptual framework, my research findings resulted in two lists that sort the threatened resources by priority according to risk, cultural value and current conditions to determine urgency for mitigation and adaptation. The triage system for coastal historic properties guides public and private organizations to assess in the most effective manner the resources in need of adaptation to withstand the effects of sea level rise. A significant amount of resources will be affected provoking the deterioration of resources and a community’s cultural identity if no planning occurs to mitigate damage. Three examples are evaluated for adaptation methods for resources in the towns of San Juan and Arecibo and the US Customs Houses thematic subject. Cultural and social benefits are used for priority assessments of coastal resources in Puerto Rico because they are critical to local livelihood. Educating the public needs to be part of the adaptation measures as historic resources are vital to cultural preservation for future generations. Government agencies, private organizations and the preservation community must encourage the creation of in-depth analysis of the resources for adaptation methods to be effective incorporating the findings of this study in future economic and disaster planning. The future of Puerto Rico’s built heritage may be lost to rising seas if nothing is done to preserve it now.