World Heritage Status for the Alamo, Japan Industrial Sites

By Christoph Noelting; Frank Jordans | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 6, 2015 | Go to article overview

World Heritage Status for the Alamo, Japan Industrial Sites


Christoph Noelting; Frank Jordans, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


BONN, Germany * The United States has succeeded in its bid to "Remember the Alamo," after a U.N. cultural body approved its status as a world heritage site Sunday.

The Alamo was one of five Spanish Roman Catholic sites, known as the San Antonio Missions, to receive the coveted label that is likely to boost tourism.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee approved the Missions' status along with more than a dozen others from around the globe, including the Gunkanjima industrial site off Japan that South Korea had long objected to.

Susan Snow, an archaeologist for San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, said the site in Texas represented "the very essence of the great melting pot of the United States."

"These Missions are a living example of the interchange of cultures bringing together the indigenous, Spanish, Mexican, and other influences that form South Texas today," Snow said in a statement after the decision in Bonn, Germany.

The Missions were built in the 18th century in and around what is now the city of San Antonio to convert indigenous people to Catholicism and make them Spanish subjects.

The best known of the missions, the Alamo, was the site of the famous 1836 battle when an outnumbered band of Texas settlers staged a stand before Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his Mexican forces seized the mission. During the Battle of San Jacinto weeks later, then-victorious Texas soldiers shouted, "Remember the Alamo!"

U.S. officials hope the designation will boost to San Antonio's tourism, already one of the city's top five industries and responsible for one in eight jobs.

The Missions were the only sites in the United States proposed for world heritage status this year. There are now 23 world heritage sites in the United States. Other American icons already on the list include the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and Cahokia, for its importance in understanding the prehistory of North America.

In another decision, Japan received world heritage status for a collection of almost two dozen sites that illustrate the country's industrial revolution during the 19th century.

The unanimous vote in favor of Japan's bid was approved only after Tokyo and Seoul resolved a spat over whether to acknowledge the sites' history of wartime forced labor, particularly that of Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island.

The fortress island near Nagasaki was key to Japan's rapid development during the 1868-1912 era of the Meiji Emperor, who sought to catch up with Western colonial powers.

Until recently, Seoul had objected to the listing unless the role of Korean prisoners forced to work there during World War II was formally recognized.

OTHER SITES GRANTED WORLD HERITAGE STATUS IN RECENT DAYS

* The Burgundy vineyards south of Dijon, France, which have been shaped by centuries of wine making. The site represents an industry in existence since at least the 12th century. …

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