City of Binghamton, New York

Historic Preservation

Historic Preservation

The City of Binghamton has a long-standing commitment to historic preservation. The Commission on Architecture and Urban Design was established in 1964 and the City became a Certified Local Government in 1988. The City contains four National Register Historic Districts, three of which (the Court Street, the State and Henry Street, and the Rail Terminal Districts) are also designated as Local Historic Districts. Additionally, the City contains numerous Local Landmarks and properties listed on the National Register. The City remains committed to preserving the physical and cultural resources within the City of Binghamton. 

Design Guidelines

Often, if you do not have experience working with historic properties, it can be difficult to figure out what you should do to preserve the historic character of the building. In 2011, the City of Binghamton hired a consultant to help produce a modern, up-to-date set of Design Guidelines for Historic Properties. The new City of Binghamton Historic Design Guidelines were official adopted by City Council on October 5, 2011.  They provide information on Historic Preservation approaches and procedures, design principles, architectural styles, and applicable City laws.

Historic Districts - What are they? Where are they?

National Register Historic Districts: These are districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and have been determined by the National Park Service to be “a geographically definable area, urban or rural, possessing a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united by past events or aesthetically by plan or physical development. A district may also comprise individual elements separated geographically but linked by association or history.” A National Register designation is an official acknowledgment by the federal government that an area holds culturally significant characteristics which are worthy of preservation. Designation as a National Register Historic District provides the area protection from any threats which involve the federal government or federal monies. It also provides access to some federal financial incentives.

Local Historic Districts: Local Historic Districts, by contrast, are designated and listed at the local level and are subject to highest level of protection against threats. They are established and governed by local laws and/or ordinances which can impose restrictions and regulations on the properties within the boundaries of those districts. Along with these restrictions, however, there may be additional financial opportunities available to these properties.

Heritage Area Districts: The City of Binghamton is part of the Susquehanna Heritage Area. Heritage Area Districts differ from Historic Districts in that they incorporate natural, cultural, historic, and recreation areas, instead of simply the built environment. They seek to combine these four elements into a “cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. These areas tell nationally important stories about our nation and are representative of the national experience through both the physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved within them.” In New York, Heritage Area designation is intended specifically to “promote sustainable development and enhance quality of life through programs and activities in historic preservation, resource conservation, recreation, interpretation, and community capacity-building that demonstrate respect for the people, the place, and the past.” More information on NYS Heritage Areas can be found here.

Certified Local Government

The Certified Local Government Program (CLG) supports and strengthens local preservation activities by assisting communities to achieve their preservation goals through the development of an action plan. Read more about the CLG program on the New York State Historic Preservation website by clicking here

Binghamton became a Certified Local Government in 1988, the 10th municipality in New York State achieve this status; there are currently 70 CLGs in New York.