Award for Local Advocacy


The intent of the Award for Local Advocacy, a new award in 2019, is to recognize a local organization for its promotion of Historic Preservation in the place/region of the annual meeting. The VAF seeks to encourage citizen-based advocacy by recognizing exemplary efforts and achievements on behalf of our vernacular built heritage. The VAF Award for Local Advocacy honors individuals and groups for exceptional contributions toward the appreciation and protection of vernacular buildings and landscapes. The award recognizes outstanding initiative, commitment, and action to promote and protect vernacular resources local to the area of the annual conference.


The 2019 Local Advocacy Award goes to Hidden City, Philadelphia.

The mission of Hidden City is to inspire a sense of wonder, exploration and discovery in city and regional residents from all backgrounds; to lead them to a new and more vital relationship with Philadelphia, to understand its history, present, and future; and to connect people across diverse neighborhoods as part of a community of engaged people to solve problems related to the built environment.

Hidden City’s vision is to bring to life Philadelphia’s dormant and hidden places as locations of increased cultural, educational, commercial, and civic activity, and contribute substantially to the development of community and the health of its neighborhoods.

The organization strives to advance creative placemaking in Philadelphia through an array of programs, including a diverse array of tours and events, and publishes the Hidden City Daily, a five-day-a-week online magazine which covers all aspects of Philadelphia’s built environment, from architecture and planning, to preservation, development and design. Today, it is dedicated to enhancing the enjoyment of the city and inspiring people to explore its history and imagine new futures for the urban landscape.

When it comes to preservation advocacy, Hidden City's effectiveness springs from two sources. One is enthusiasm. Through articles and tours, the group has done more to foster public appreciation of Philadelphia's cultural landscape than any other organization, period. The other is shame. In a city awash in World Heritage boosterism and a general willingness to drown history in marketing, Hidden City's annual "Lost Buildings" series reminds us of an ugly reality: we are living through a mindless, multi-year demolition spree that politicians and public officials have shown no interest in concluding or even containing.

To receive the award tonight for Hidden City we welcome it's founders: Nathaniel Popkin and Peter Woodall.



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