Cultural Landscapes of the Southeast

The natural and cultural diversity across the southeastern United States provides for a rich array of resources – from the former sugar fields of Virgin Islands National Park, to live oak allées at Cane River Creole National Historic Site, to the globally imperiled spruce-fir ecosystems of the Great Smokies, to the modern design of the Mission 66 projects at Everglades National Park. Southeast cultural landscapes may be as small as the 0.2-acre William Johnson House property at Natchez National Historical Park in Mississippi, as long as the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina, or as vast as the 125,000-acre Big South Fork Rural Historic District in Tennessee.

While the southeastern United States is renowned for a number of Civil War sites, other sites represent the history of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, World War II, and the Cold War. The Southeast is also home to antebellum plantations, vernacular mountain farmsteads, and the homes of poets and business tycoons.

There are landscapes significant for ethnography, like the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park; for association with civic leaders, like Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site; for archeological resources, like the Woodland and Mississippian mounds at Ocmulgee National Monument; and for works of landscape architecture, like the Blue Ridge Parkway.

With over twenty coastal parks, climate change is an increasing threat. It affects ecosystems whose vulnerable, southernmost extents are found in the Appalachian mountains, and exacerbates management challenges with invasive animals and plants that gain further ground with milder temperatures.
A driveway curves in front of a large white estate home with four tall columns and many windows,
Featured Articles

Stories about cultural landscapes of the Southeast's national parks

The alternating black and white strips of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse seen through sea oats
Cultural Landscape Profiles

An overview of a few of the landscapes in the Southeast. More to come!

Last updated: February 16, 2024