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Historic Preservation

August 29, 2011

Historic Preservation and Conservation may not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of societal issues or corporate social responsibility, but the preservation, restoration and reuse of historic buildings, monuments, parks and other recreation areas can revitalize neighborhoods, stimulate tourism and local economies, and preserve our natural resources by conserving energy and reducing our carbon footprint.

American Express made its first historic preservation grant in 1974 to the National Park Service to assist with the planning for the renovation and restoration of the Statue of Liberty as part of the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. The company then went on to sponsor the first national cause-related marketing campaign aimed at restoring the Statue of Liberty in 1983. This campaign raised over $1.7 million for the restoration project. (Our first corporate involvement with the Statue of Liberty actually dates back to 1885 when American Express asked company employees to contribute money toward the construction of the Statue's pedestal – our first employee giving campaign!)

Our first international grant in historic preservation was made in 1977 to help save the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. American Express was the first private organization to donate funds to UNESCO for this restoration. We went on to work with the World Monuments Fund in the establishment of the Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in 1996, and we were the corporate sponsor of this list for the next ten years, helping to preserve 126 historic sites in 62 countries.

In the past five years, we have linked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the creation and execution of the Partners in Preservation Program, our on-line voting contest for historic sites in specific U.S. communities. This program has now taken place in San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston and Seattle, and we've supported the preservation of 56 historic sites in those communities.

We have also worked with the World Monuments Fund to establish a Sustainable Tourism Program, which has assisted historic sites with the management of tourists and their impact on the environment in places like St. Paul's Cathedral in London, the Historic Center in Mexico City, the Heritage Route in Delhi, the Easter Island Visitor's Center and Route 66 in the U.S.

Last week, we launched our Partners in Preservation Program in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit our Facebook page at and "like" our program. You will be automatically registered to vote for your favorite historic site in the Twin Cities area starting September 20, and you'll help us give away $1 million towards historic preservation there. Share this link with your friends and become a Partner in Preservation!

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