CRM Journal


Images of the Past: Historical Authenticity and Inauthenticity from Disney to Times Square

by Michael Kelleher


According to the tourism industry, people seeking cultural or heritage tourism experiences desire authenticity of place and experience.(1) Conversely, the growth and profitability of heritage tourism have resulted in a proliferation of inauthenticity.(2) While historians and other cultural resource management professionals have observed historic sites, museums, and other history education institutions adopt presentation techniques usually associated with entertainment venues, the degree to which historical authenticity and inauthenticity have become indiscernible in the built environment may now have reached new levels. A recent example of this phenomenon is New York's redeveloped Times Square, which is neither a Disney theme park nor a historic district, but combines elements of both in an attempt to create a modern entertainment destination that relies on the past.

Between Disney and Times Square—once considered polar opposites in terms of both authenticity and their place in popular culture—is a vast array of historically oriented sites and attractions, the differences among which may have become difficult for the public to distinguish. Today, four major categories of sites blur historical authenticity and inauthenticity: the theme park, the historical village, the historical marketplace, and the historicized urban theme park. The fourth category is the latest incarnation and includes the recently redeveloped Times Square. This category may not at first appear to be related to history or cultural resource management, but it is the direct descendant of the historical marketplace and the most recent manifestation of historic preservation.

Heritage Tourism and Authenticity

Would the public recognize the difference between a visit to a theme park and a visit to what are considered legitimate historic sites? With the large and growing number of tourist attractions that offer some form of history or heritage, it is getting harder to differentiate the fabricated and the genuine. People have been traveling to historic sites as long as there have been tourists. During the last 20 to 30 years, the number of people who are interested in visiting sites that have some relation to history has markedly increased. This increase has come with a corresponding increase in the number of historically related sites, such as abandoned factories that have become heritage centers and outdoor shopping malls set in historic districts.(3) After all, the proposal made by the Walt Disney Company in the 1990s to develop a new American history theme park in Virginia would have resulted in one more site (granted a very large and extremely well-visited site) to present a form of contrived or reconstructed history in order to cash in on heritage tourism. As David Lowenthal observes, the past is "[n]ow a foreign country with a booming tourist trade."(4)

In contrast to the current wave of heritage tourists, who come from all sectors of society and may simply see historic sites as entertaining destinations, David Herbert contends that the once traditional upper- and upper-middle-class tourists who visited historic houses and archeological ruins "had a genuine sense of the past and sufficient education to understand their significance." However, as the number of people who visit such places increases and the majority of tourists become less "cultured [and] educated," there are fewer who understand these sites without elaborate presentations such as reconstructions of historic buildings or living history programs.(5)

Herbert, however, seems to overlook the fact that even when relatively small numbers of affluent and educated people visited historic sites, elaborate reconstructions were carried out. For example, in the early 20th century archeologists reconstructed the Mayan temples at Chichen Itza in the jungles of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, as well as other remote ruins that could be visited by only the most dedicated travelers. Perhaps Robert Hewison provides a more nuanced explanation of the experience of contemporary heritage tourists, commenting that when people who "have no understanding of history in depth" seek out historically related sites, they are not given actual history, "but instead are offered a contemporary creation, more costume drama and re-enactment than critical discourse."(6)

The comments of Hewison and Herbert suggest that contrived historical presentations are intended to be tools to educate people who do not have a grasp of history. However, with the increase in heritage tourism and competition among history-related sites for visitors, many of these contrived presentations and reconstructions have simply been created in an attempt to attract tourists and their dollars. This does not mean that contrived or inauthentic historical presentations are only found at commercial tourist destinations, as many serious historic sites and museums have adopted similar forms of presentation involving a fair amount of entertainment. At the same time, many of the more commercial heritage ventures see the value in adopting the techniques, as well as the claims to authenticity, of traditional historic sites. As a result, distinguishing the differences among the four categories of historically oriented sites has become increasingly more difficult.

This result has significance for the larger society beyond simply the fields of history and preservation. As the number of contrived historical displays increases, inauthentic historical material becomes more deeply embedded in our culture. The sociologist Erik Cohen explains this phenomena as one in which "contrived attractions, originally created for touristic purposes, increasingly become part of the physical, historical or cultural environment—they become 'naturalized,' [which blurs] the distinction between 'natural' and 'contrived' attractions."(7)

From Disney-like theme parks to historical marketplaces, these sites confound visitors with their images of history, challenging visitors to differentiate authentic historic material from inauthentic, and accurate interpretations of history from nostalgic visions of the past.(8) The cumulative effect of these various historic stage sets devalues the preservation of historic material and perhaps even the public's understanding of history itself, as such destinations often present a nostalgic, and in the case of the new Times Square, sanitized version of the past.

Theme Parks: Disney History

After the Walt Disney Company announced its plans to develop a new historical theme park, Disney's America, in 1993, historians debated the propriety of this potential attraction, which many historians believed would present an overly simplistic and nostalgic vision of American history.(9) Although Disney's America lies dormant, the Walt Disney Company still plays an influential role in the presentation of history in the built environment through an increasing array of theme parks and other tourist destinations following the Disney model. Some say that the public can see through the presentation of history at theme parks; many Disney observers disagree. Judith Adams feels that Disney and its imitators "provide at least the illusion of an educational experience in cultural history" to the public.(10) Alan Bryman goes further, arguing that the Disney image of history provides "a form of instruction that is easily absorbed and which influences tens of millions of people for whom the Disney version of history becomes real history."(11) Historian Mike Wallace contends that when one considers the number of people who have seen various Disney presentations of history, "one might fairly say that Walt Disney has taught people more history, in a more memorable way, than they ever learned in school."(12) Because of this influence, Richard Francaviglia believes it necessary to recognize the "important role that Disney-inspired theme parks play in history education," which requires us to "look more closely and dispassionately at the Disney parks' role in historical interpretation, for it can tell us much about popular perceptions of history and historic places."(13)

As Disney has become synonymous with synthetic, why might people think theme park historical presentations are accurate? Stephen Fjellman contends that the public may be more taken in by Disney's historical presentation than is generally acknowledged because its "claims to authenticity [are] made by the details" found in the historical presentations in which the company takes so much pride, and which the public loves so much. When visitors see these historical presentations, such as Main Street, U.S.A., "constructed with a passion for authenticity—an authenticity that escapes all but the most detail oriented and knowledgeable visitor," these details give Disney an air of historical legitimacy. As a result, if the public believes that the historical scene presented by Disney may be an accurate physical representation of the past, then the public believes that the Disney interpretation of history may be accurate as well.(14)

If Disney ever builds an all-history park, will this give Disney an even greater influence over the public's view of history? Just as Colonial Williamsburg set the standard for historic preservation and interpretation from the 1930s to at least the 1960s, perhaps Disney has been setting the standard since then. As David Lowenthal explains, much of the public believes that "Disney always does things first-class, and if they set out to do American history, they'll hire the best historians money can buy…to create a completely plausible, completely believable appearance of American history."(15)

Existing theme parks, such as Dollywood in Tennessee, have adopted Disney's techniques. At Dollywood, which draws its theme from the nearby Great Smoky Mountains, fanciful versions of mountain cabins and moonshiners are presented in close proximity to authentic historic Appalachian settlements preserved in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Similarly other historic theme parks have been proposed, such as one planned for upstate New York that would attempt to re-create not just the Woodstock festival but the whole counterculture of the 1960s. The New York Times reported that the proposed theme park would be "something on the scale of Colonial Williamsburg, but short of Disneyland."(16) This trend has gone abroad as well, just as Disney's theme parks have. In Germany, more than one proposal has been made to create a Berlin Wall theme park.(17)

In addition to having an influence on fanciful re-creations of history, Disney has had a great impact, variously positive and negative, on historic preservation. The plausibility and popularity of the Disney representations of history have given the Disney style a far greater influence than merely the proliferation of imitator theme parks such as at the historicized King's Dominion in Virginia or the faux-urban street at Universal Studio's Citywalk in Los Angeles. Many of today's historically oriented sites and attractions, even those considered to be serious about education and preservation, are descendants of Disney's Main Street, U.S.A.(18) Francaviglia sees a relationship between Disney's nostalgic representations of the American past and the historic preservation movement. By presenting a popular image of Main Street, he believes that Disney helped Americans to gain an appreciation for those elements of the built environment that were often demolished in the name of progress.(19) Similarly, John Findlay sees the influence of Disney's Main Street, U.S.A. in both the design of historic preservation projects and the public's perception of historic districts as entertainment destinations.(20) To some, this is a positive influence, as Disney's nostalgic visions of the past may have helped to create support for historic preservation. Sociologist Sharon Zukin, however, sees a negative influence, as many real American Main Streets and historic districts have come to resemble all too much the "imaginary landscape based on a manipulated collective memory and consumption" found at Disney and imitator theme parks.(21)

An exhibit created by the Canadian Center for Architecture, The Architecture of Reassurance: Designing the Disney Theme Parks, demonstrated the similarities among the images of history at Disney theme parks, historic districts, and Main Street revival projects. The exhibit displayed several original renderings of Main Street, U.S.A., the nostalgic depiction of turn-of-the-century America  at the center of the Disney theme parks. The renderings look much like rehabilitation designs for historic districts and Main Streets that have been revived as pedestrian malls.(22) This phenomena was reported in the New York Times, which described how Marceline, Missouri, and Fort Collins, Colorado, the two towns that originally inspired the design of Main Street, U.S.A., have in turn attempted to remake themselves in Disney's nostalgic image of small town America in order to attract tourists.(23)

Historical Villages: Colonial Williamsburg

In their study of Colonial Williamsburg, anthropologists Richard Handler and Eric Gable reveal the staff's contention that the presence of 88 historic structures in the town makes it superior to Disney's historical re-creations. Many visitors appear to agree, and, in the authors' words, "accept [these] claims to authenticity." Not only does Colonial Williamsburg make claims to authenticity, but it presents such a controlled landscape, with historic structures next to reconstructions, the absence of modern intrusions, and staff dressed in period costumes, that Handler and Gable found that many visitors do not realize the extent to which the town has been manipulated to look "historic."(24) On this point David Lowenthal complains that although "[s]igns and guidebooks usually specify" what is a reconstruction and what is not, "visitors soon forget, if they ever note, differences between authentic and imitated, untouched and restored, specific and generic." For them, it is all real.(25)

Colonial Williamsburg's reputation for striving to make everything appear authentic also leads to confusion over what is not. Handler and Gable observed visitors who believe that most everything they see is contrived, and mistake this historical village for a Disney-type theme park, asking if the squirrels are mechanical and the sound of birds recorded. Two visitors, when asked what they thought of this "museum" seemed surprised the term was used to describe Colonial Williamsburg. They thought it was, in the authors' words, "an attraction—a theme park."(26) Many do see Colonial Williamsburg as a type of theme park, and some observers see it has having much in common with Walt Disney World.(27) When Disney announced that it planned to build Disney's America in Virginia, the management of Colonial Williamsburg, fearing a possible loss in visitation, asked people how they viewed the famous historical village in relation to a Disney history theme park. The response from many was that they saw little difference between the two.(28)

Are historical villages such as Colonial Williamsburg really the same as Disney-like theme parks? Of course not. Disney parks are pure fantasy and entertainment centers, while Colonial Williamsburg and its many imitators have preservation and education at the heart of their mission and contain a great deal of authentic historic material. However, there are significant similarities between theme parks and historical villages. If theme parks, with their focus on entertainment, present a version of American history that is pure fun and fantasy, then perhaps historical villages, which attempt to entertain as they teach, present a more serious but only slightly less fun "history experience." The architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable criticizes Colonial Williamsburg as a place "where one could learn a little romanticized history, confuse the real and unreal, and have…a very nice time." Furthermore, she sees the historical village, with its mixture of authentic and inauthentic historic structures, as well as its costumed guides, as having set the standards for the "new world order" of historical inauthenticity represented by Disney.(29)

Historical Marketplaces: South Street Seaport

If historical villages such as Colonial Williamsburg bear any relation to the representation of history in theme parks, then they are most definitely related to historical marketplaces, which also aim to preserve authentic historic structures. Like historical villages, marketplaces contain a mixture of historic buildings and new construction. They also share an abundance of shopping and other consumer-related activities that are given a historical flavor. For example, at Colonial Williamsburg one can dine in a "historic" tavern on "authentic" 18th-century dishes, or purchase colonial-themed products, just as one can find seafood and nautical-themed products at South Street Seaport. For sociologist Diane Barthel, historical villages in which visitors are "consuming history" are not unlike many themed shopping malls. She writes, "In some instances the line between historic village and consumer village is so blurred that visitors no longer recognize the difference."(30)

In both historical villages and marketplaces, history has become a commodity, and any number of historically themed products are available for visitors' consumption. Barthel complains that at these sites "[h]istory is no longer treated with respectful distance. Rather, it is mined for images and ideas that can be associated with commodities. Like the rest of culture, history is being bought and sold."(31) This comparison between history and a natural resource is also made by Kevin Walsh, who believes it has—

become somewhat akin to a seam of coal or a reservoir of water, a resource to be extracted and exploited, to be put to work as many ways as possible in the marketplace. The past has emerged as a pool of architectural styles, to be dipped into and mixed and matched in the bricolage of the new shopping arcade.(32)

If history is being commodified, the historical marketplace is the ultimate representation of this process. To accomplish this, the designers of historical marketplaces create a pastiche of preserved structures and new construction intended to further the goal of creating a historically themed shopping and entertainment district. In doing so, the manner in which new construction is designed to fit into a particular theme leads to a historicized setting that makes it difficult for the visitor to recognize what is authentic and what is not.

The result is that, at a place like South Street Seaport, the actual historic structures and museum displays on the history of the New York waterfront are lost amidst the new, but historically themed buildings and shops.(33) Ironically, for Ada Louise Huxtable this implies that "while the genuine fragment is a plus, it is not really considered necessary; it can be replicated or suggested…."(34) Huxtable first commented on the plans for South Street Seaport in the 1970s. At the time she had hope that this project presented the means to preserve an area containing historic commercial buildings and a functioning fish market built on a pier over the East River; a place where the "nineteenth century still seemed very much alive." However, after seeing the result of the redevelopment of the area, Huxtable concluded that this "stylish transition" meant that "[w]hat was lost forever is the real thing."(35)

The loss of the real thing at South Street Seaport was not the result of the loss of historic structures, as the project saved many 18th- and 19th-century buildings from demolition. Instead, South Street Seaport and projects like it have obscured the real thing through the use of what the architect and critic Michael Sorkin considers a form of "urban design [that] is almost wholly preoccupied with reproduction, with the creation of urbane disguises." This includes the construction of new buildings with historical motifs, and historically inspired designs for seemingly insignificant elements such as new street furniture and pavement. As a result, this "architecture of deception" has created the kind of "phony historic festivity" that characterizes any number of historical marketplaces and similar sites.(36) Perhaps one of the harshest critics of historical marketplaces is Christine Boyer, a professor of architecture who considers them to be examples of "retro urban design [that] are literal representations of the past." Sadly, the visitors to "these real-life stage-sets [are] scarcely aware of how the relics of the past have been indexed, framed, and scaled" for them. As a result of this "stockpiling of the city's past with all the available artifacts and relics…actual history" has been obscured.(37)

One cause of obscuring history at historic marketplaces is the elimination of what Diane Barthel calls the "zone of mediation," the physical and psychological differentiation among parts of the built environment.(38) At theme parks, the zone of mediation is made visible by the large parking lots that serves as moats around them, as well as by entrance gates where visitors must pay to enter. Some historic villages have similar zones of mediation, such as Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts that is separated from the actual town of Sturbridge. But in Virginia, the town of Williamsburg and Colonial Williamsburg blend together. A goal of historical marketplaces is a blending of historic structures and new construction through design techniques that minimize any zone of mediation. Add the historically themed shops and restaurants that are found in both new and old buildings and you have a collection of fragments adding up to a newly designed urban area, but one with a historical motif.

Despite the criticism leveled against historical marketplaces, their prevalence around the United States attests to their popularity with the public and success as a retailing concept. New York's South Street Seaport, San Antonio's Riverwalk, and San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf are popular and often successful approaches to preserving the historic fabric of cities and towns, and have helped to increase public support for historic preservation. However, as the historical marketplace becomes the favored new use for a vacant train station or decaying commercial area, developers are tempted to draw from a selection of historical motifs in order to create a festive, historicized atmosphere conducive to consumption. As a result, the melding of authentic and inauthentic becomes embedded even deeper into our culture and differentiating between them becomes more difficult.

The Latest Incarnation: The New Times Square

For several decades, New York City hoped to revitalize the dually famous and infamous Times Square. One plan put forward in the 1980s focused on the replacement of much of what was seen as a blighted theater and entertainment district notorious for adult movies, prostitution, and other unsavory forms of street life with corporate office buildings. The Municipal Art Society and other civic groups argued against this course of action and for both the improvement and preservation of Times Square.(39) This resulted in an approach that relied on a number of entertainment-oriented corporations redeveloping parcels of real estate in an effort to clean up the area while maintaining a center for theater and popular entertainment. Design standards for new buildings were intended to preserve the character of Times Square by requiring large, lighted signs and stores at street level.(40) One of the first companies to become involved in the redevelopment of Times Square was the Walt Disney Company, which ironically took a rather conservative approach in terms of historic preservation. Disney chose to meticulously restore the New Amsterdam Theater, a vaudeville house constructed in 1903 with an elaborate Art Nouveau interior, where Disney now presents stage versions of its animated films.(41) When the project was completed in 1997, the architecture critic for the New York Times praised it as "[a] triumph of the art and ideology of preservation, the renovation shows how far urbanism has progressed since the days of postwar urban renewal, when few planners would think twice about consigning architectural gems to the junk heap."(42)

Unlike Disney, other developers have used the historic fabric of Times Square more liberally and have relied upon the creation of historicized stage sets. Across 42nd Street from the restored New Amsterdam Theater, the Lyric and Apollo theaters, also former vaudeville houses, were demolished to make way for the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. However, elements of the historic theaters were saved and incorporated into the new structure, creating a hybrid of new and old construction. Nearby, the Empire Theater was actually moved 170 feet along 42nd Street in order to become the lobby of a new multiscreen movie theater that was built around it. Another structure on the block, the Selwyn Building, was to have had its facade incorporated into the New 42nd Street Rehearsal Studio, but almost as if commenting on its future the building collapsed, forcing the design of a new structure free of such historicizing elements. The modern studio constructed in its place has received by far the most praise from architects and critics of any building that is part of the new Times Square.

Other projects do not incorporate old buildings but attempt to recreate a vision of the area through entirely new construction. An entertainment complex that encompasses almost half a block of 42nd Street has been designed to look like several different buildings from the street but is in actuality one structure within. The developer behind this project commented that "The intention of our proposal is to make it as though these buildings have been there for years… [to hide the fact that] it's a new development."(43)

In the new Times Square, developers have attempted to replicate the nostalgic image of the Great White Way before it became associated with vice and update it for modern tourists.(44) In doing so, they took the historic fabric of Times Square, sanitized it through restoration and new construction, and presented it to the public as if they were able to recapture what was lost when the theater district went into decline in the 1960s and 1970s. Christine Boyer has drawn a parallel between this type of urban redevelopment and historical marketplaces such as South Street Seaport. Whereas the development of the seaport was an attempt to recapture the "mythical ambience of an old seaport" after the "real waterfront died," the new Times Square design standards attempt to "recapture the energy and movement that once characterized Times Square, and consequently to call on popular memory to legitimate this plan." The hope was that this approach to redevelopment would "restore the long-lost glitter of the Great White Way…[and] replace the mean streets with an image of old Times Square, as if its aura could be caught under glass."(45)

The new Times Square is probably the best example of the historical marketplace taken a step further. Here, whatever zone of mediation might have been evident in the historical marketplace has been absolutely erased and, in the mingling of historic fabric and new construction, the actual past and approximations of the past are almost impossible to distinguish. This representation of history and historic architecture does not yet have a name; perhaps the "nostalgic streetscape" would do. History and historic preservation are not as evident in the new Times Square as they are in South Street Seaport, but nonetheless, the redevelopment of this area is all about using surviving historic fabric, along with facsimiles, to create a historically tinged atmosphere that will make visitors feel that they are experiencing Times Square as it is popularly imagined. Perhaps this is what Richard Southwick of the architectural firm Beyer, Blinder, Belle, which designed two of the new structures along 42nd Street, meant when he said: "We've redefined what is meant by preservation. It may mean moving a building down the block or building a new theater where two older theaters stood."(46)

To mix a few historic oddities with new construction in Times Square and elsewhere is not capturing what once was; it is the creation of a historical stage set, what Michael Sorkin refers to as the "city of simulations…the city as theme park."(47) In the new Times Square, an architecture of deception is being employed to mix new and old. Here, Diane Barthel's zone of mediation has truly vanished. The commingling of historic fabric and new construction that is given the appearance of age has been absorbed into the pores of the city. At the new entrance to the Times Square subway station, one of the most seemingly authentic places in the city, is an original tile mosaic announcing the name of the station. Such mosaics, the oldest of which have been given landmark protection, are found in subway stations throughout the city. But in Times Square, the old mosaic appears to be hung on the wall in a frame. Tourists pose in front of it for snapshots. Is the mosaic a historic artifact or a prop?

The Future

This discussion of places as seemingly diverse as Disney theme parks, Colonial Williamsburg, South Street Seaport, and Times Square is not intended as an across-the-board criticism. Each is a legitimate destination for the public and some may help to preserve authentic historic structures. However, by continuing to develop such historically oriented sites in an effort to capitalize on heritage tourism and nostalgia for the past, we must recognize that actual historic places may continue to be devalued as it becomes more difficult to distinguish between the authentic and the inauthentic. Ultimately, it may not matter to the public whether historical areas contain anything authentic when simulations will do.

As this trend continues, it will bring into question the expenditure of money to preserve historic places and the entire concept of historic preservation. Such a prediction may sound overly pessimistic, but take, for example, Cannery Row in Monterey, California. Made famous by John Steinbeck's novel of the same name, Cannery Row became a popular tourist destination. The growth of tourism, however, has put the few remaining historic structures in danger of demolition to make way for new development that will rely on the area's history to attract business. In one dispute over the protection of a historic structure, the solution offered by the city government was to require developers to take the historic building apart and reuse elements of it in a new structure, creating a stage set for tourists to shop while believing that they are experiencing the historic Cannery Row. Such activity led the National Trust for Historic Preservation to name Cannery Row one of the most endangered historic places in the United States in 1998.(48) Unfortunately, with the success of the new Times Square, this trend probably will continue.


About the Author

Michael Kelleher is an independent historian specializing in historic preservation and serves as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State.



1. See Cheryl M. Hargrove, "Authenticity: The Essential Ingredient for Heritage Tourism," Forum Journal, Journal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation 13, no. 4 (Summer 1999): 38-46.

2. For the purposes of this article, which deals with historic preservation and the built environment, "authentic" refers to actual historic structures or artifacts and "inauthentic" refers to new construction made to appear old. This can include new structures made to resemble actual historic buildings, as well as those that incorporate authentic elements from historic structures to add an air of historicism.

3. On the growth of heritage tourism in the United States, see Patricia Mooney-Melvin, "Harnessing the Romance of the Past: Preservation, Tourism, and History," Public Historian 13, no. 2 (Spring 1991): 35-48.

4. David Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), xvii.

5. David T. Herbert, "Heritage Places, Leisure and Tourism," in Heritage, Tourism and Society, ed. David T. Herbert (London: Mansell, 1995), 8-9.

6. Robert Hewison, The Heritage Industry: Britain in a Climate of Decline (London: Methuen, 1987), 135.

7. Erik Cohen, "Contemporary Tourism-Trends and Challenges: Sustainable Authenticity or Contrived Post-Modernity?" in Change in Tourism: People, Places, Processes, ed. Richard Butler and Douglas Pearce (London: Routledge, 1995), 26.

8. On contrived historical presentations, see G.J. Ashworth and J.E. Tunbridge, The Tourist-Historic City (London: Belhaven Press, 1990), 150; and P.T. Newby, "Tourism: Support or Threat to Heritage?" in Building a New Heritage: Tourism, Culture and Identity in the New Europe, ed. G.J. Ashworth and P.J. Larkham (London: Routledge, 1994), 224. On differentiating authenticity at historical sites, see Herbert, 12; and John Urry, The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies (London: Sage Publications, 1990), 104.

9. On the reaction within the historical profession see "A House Divided: Historians Confront Disney's America," OAH Newsletter 22, no. 3 (August 1994); "Public History and Disney's America," Perspectives, American Historical Association Newsletter 33, no. 3 (March 1995); and "Disney and the Historians—Where Do We Go From Here?" Public Historian 17, no. 4 (Fall 1995).

10. Judith A. Adams, The American Amusement Park Industry: A History of Technology and Thrills (Boston: Twayne, 1991), 110.

11. Alan Bryman, Disney and His Worlds (London: Routledge, 1995), 142.

12. Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996), 134.

13. Richard Francaviglia, "History After Disney: The Significance of 'Imagineered' Historical Places," Public Historian 17, no. 4 (Fall 1995): 69.

14. Stephen M. Fjellman, Vinyl Leaves: Walt Disney World and America (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992), 79, 86-7.

15. David Lowenthal, Possessed by the Past: The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History (New York: Free Press, 1996), 167.

16. "Peace, Music, Profit," New York Times, April 27, 1997, sec. 4, p. 2.

17. See Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 36-37.

18. See Kevin Walsh, The Representation of the Past: Museums and Heritage in the Post-Modern World (London: Routledge, 1992), 97.

19. Francaviglia, 74.

20. John M. Findlay, Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture After 1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 53.

21. Sharon Zukin, Landscapes of Power: From Detroit to Disney World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 230.

22. The Architecture of Reassurance: Designing the Disney Theme Parks, was curated by Karal Ann Marling and organized by the Canadian Centre for Architecture. It was exhibited in 1998 at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, New York. Also see Karal Ann Marling, The Architecture of Reassurance: Designing the Disney Theme Parks (New York: Flammarion, 1997).

23. See Julie V. Iovine, "A Tale of Two Main Streets," New York Times, October 15, 1998, sec. 6, pp. 1, 7.

24. Richard Handler and Eric Gable, The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997), 48, 222.

25. Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country, 354-355.

26. Handler and Gable, 28-29, 193.

27. Those who see similarities include Warren Leon and Roy Rosenzweig, "Introduction," in History Museums in the United States: A Critical Assessment, ed. Warren Leon and Roy Rosenzweig (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), xiii; and James Howard Kunstler, The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscapes (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993), 218, 220-221.

28. Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country, 166-167.

29. Ada Louise Huxtable, The Unreal America: Architecture and Illusion (New York: The Free Press, 1997), 15.

30. Diane Barthel, Historic Preservation: Collective Memory and Historical Identity (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 45.

31. Ibid., 117.

32. Walsh, 144-145.

33. The South Street Seaport Museum is presently developing a new facility that will hopefully give it more prominence among the commercial buildings. See, accessed May 11, 2004.

34. Huxtable, The Unreal America, 96-97.

35. Ada Louise Huxtable, "Selling Out the South Street Seaport," in Architecture Anyone? Cautionary Tales of the Building Art (New York: Random House, 1986), 158-161.

36. Michael Sorkin, "Introduction," in Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, ed. Michael Sorkin (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992), xiv.

37. M. Christine Boyer, "Cities for Sale: Merchandising History at the South Street Seaport," in Variations on a Theme Park, ed. Sorkin, 189.

38. Barthel, 132.

39. On the defeat of the initial plan for Times Square, see Gregory F. Gilmartin, Shaping the City: New York and the Municipal Art Society (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1995), 443-461. On the history of Times Square and the efforts to redevelop it, see William R. Taylor, ed., Inventing Times Square: Commerce and Culture at the Crossroads of the World (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991); James Traub, The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square (New York: Random House, 2004); and Anthony Bianco, Ghosts of 42nd Street: A History of America's Most Infamous Block (New York: William Morrow, 2004).

40. The president of the Municipal Art Society offered the new Times Square as an example of the preservation of a cultural landmark in which regulations for new development have not physically preserved the district but have ensured that it is a "recognizable heir" to what came before. Some might argue that the new Times Square has been so manipulated and sanitized that it bears little resemblance to its former self. Quoted in Jim O'Grady, "Landmarks for Common Folk," New York Times, November 5, 2000, sec. 14, p. 13.

41. On the restoration of the New Amsterdam Theater see Mary C. Henderson, The New Amsterdam: The Biography of a Broadway Theatre (New York: Hyperion, 1997).

42. Herbert Muschamp, "A Palace for a New Magic Kingdom, 42d St.," New York Times, May 11, 1997, sec. 2, p. 39.

43. Quoted in Rick Lyman, "As the Great White Way Turns a Corner," New York Times, May 8, 1998, sec. 5, p. 8.

44. The new Times Square is in fact geared more for tourists than New Yorkers, who find in it little of what defines their city and more of the corporate monoculture that one finds at manufactured destinations. Herbert Muschamp provides an excellent description of such locations that are "designed to give consumers the impression that there still exist places where they can sample the fragrant atmosphere of cosmopolitan freedom, even though the atmosphere now comes canned." See Herbert Muschamp, "The Guts of Times Square," New York Times, October 22, 2000, sec. 6, p.68.

45. Boyer, "Cities for Sale," 195-196. This attempt to recapture the old Times Square, like the development of South Street Seaport, includes locating themed restaurants and shops in the area. Barthel, Boyer, Huxtable, and Sorkin all deal with the topic of themed experiences. Also, see Mark Gottdiener, The Theming of America: Dreams, Visions, and Commercial Spaces (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997).

46. Quoted in David W. Dunlap, "The Preservation Band That Sets the Tone," New York Times, June 7, 1998, sec. 11, pp. 1, 22.

47. Sorkin, xiv.

48. Nina Siegal, "Cannery Row Struggles to Stay True to Steinbeck," New York Times, June 22, 1998, sec. 1, p. 12.