The painterly landscape photo of Fort Hancock in New Jersey that won the 2013 National Historic Landmark Photo Contest was taken by Britta Burmester of Linden, New Jersey. “The light, the clouds and the colors were all doing their thing the day I took this picture,” Burmester said, “making something ordinary look almost surreal.” Burmester is an amateur photographer who, after moving to New Jersey, picked up a camera as a way to explore her new home state.
Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook—part of Gateway National Recreation Area—provided coastal defense for New York Harbor from 1895 until 1974. During the height of the Cold War, the fort housed Nike missiles prepared to intercept warplanes threatening New York City. Just a quick trip from Manhattan by ferry, this National Historic Landmark district at Sandy Hook is open for the public to explore.
The 2013 winner and 12 honorable mention photographs traverse time and place – from the soft pastel-hued view of Old San Juan to the dramatic perspective of Balboa Park’s Botanical Building, or the beautifully restored interior of Wisconsin’s Pabst Theater contrasted with rusty machine gears piled at Rhode Island’s Slater Mill, the home of American industrialization.
The annual National Historic Landmark Photo Contest encourages people to discover landmarks throughout the country whether urban or rural, on vacation or in their own backyards. Both amateur and professional photographers entered hundreds of photographs in the 2013 contest, creating a portfolio that offers an extraordinary glimpse of the stories and places waiting to be explored.
View the slideshow above (click an individual image for a larger view) or visit the 2013 NHL Photo Contest Finalist Gallery on Flickr.
National Historic Landmark status is the highest recognition accorded by the Secretary of the Interior to historic properties possessing “exceptional value or quality in illustrating and interpreting the heritage of the United States.” Since the program began in 1935, just over 2,500 properties have achieved NHL designation.
Winner of the 2013 National Historic Landmark Photo Contest
Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook, New Jersey
Photo by Britta Burmester, Linden, New Jersey
Balboa Park, San Diego, California
Photo by Joe Wenninger, Laguna Niguel, California
This view of the Botanical Building and Lily Pond is just part of a multi-building complex constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition that includes some of America's finest examples of Spanish baroque architecture. The site was enlarged for the 1935 California-Pacific International Exposition and continues to serve as a San Diego park and cultural center.
Jeremiah O’Brien (Liberty Ship), San Francisco, California
Barbie J. Mayor, Vallejo, California
During World War II, 2, 751 Liberty Ships were built as an emergency response to a shortage of maritime cargo carriers. “Jeremiah O’ Brien” is the only unaltered survivor still operative.
Manzanar War Relocation Center (part of Manzanar National Historic Site)
Inyo County, California
Ted White, Mount Kisco, New York
“The juxtaposition of injustice with spectacular scenic beauty is dizzying. Manzanar will always be haunted by the laughter and the tears of the ten thousand people who spent World War II there behind barbed wire,” said Ted White
Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel #6, Burlington, Colorado
Sayre Hutchison, Lakewood, Colorado
Built in 1905 and moved in 1928 to the Kit Carson County Fairgrounds, this rare survivor was the sixth of 89 carousels built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Its four chariots and individually-carved 46 animal menagerie (camels, goats, horses, zebras, and others) revolve, three abreast, to music from a 1912 Wurlitzer Monster Military Band Organ.
Montgomery Ward Company Complex, Chicago, Illinois
Michelle Anderson, La Salle, Illinois
“One of my favorite buildings in Chicago, its sheer massiveness, beauty and perfect location along the North Branch of the Chicago River is a dream to photograph. I'm also captivated by the never-ending stream of watercraft, such as these kayakers, who were nice enough to paddle into view as I captured this photo,” said Michelle Anderson.
Fruitlands, Harvard, Massachusetts
This vernacular New England farmhouse was the home of Bronson Alcott's short-lived "New Eden," an experiment in communal living. Alcott, a leading figure in education reform, a Transcendentalist, and a social philosopher, persuaded 15 others (including his family of six, one of them his daughter Louisa May Alcott), to join his community in June 1843. The group ate only fruits and vegetables, drank only water, and wore only linen clothing. His followers left after several months of this Spartan regime, and the Alcott family departed in January 1844.
Split Rock Light Station, Two Harbors, Minnesota
John A. Rosemeyer, Stone Mountain, Georgia
During two world wars and beyond, Split Rock Light Station served as a vital aid to navigation to iron ore carriers carrying iron ore shipments across western Lake Superior from the vast iron ranges in northern Minnesota to the lower Great Lakes for processing. The light station, an active navigational aid from 1910 to 1969, is now a Minnesota state historic site.
Central Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Dayton, Ohio
Tessa Kalman, Beavercreek, Ohio
“I call this photo The Guardian Tree. To me, it is all about history and symbolism. The location, the weather, and the time of day all came together to create a scene that captures the somber mood, the reverence, and the peace that exists in this place. You can see in an instant the passing time since this Veteran was laid to rest, as the tree grew and encircled his grave marker, almost as if protecting it. Among the perfect rows of white marble, on immaculately maintained grounds, this tree seemed to honor one of our nation's heroes in a way that only the randomness of nature can do,” said Tessa Kalman.
Old San Juan Historic District (Santa Maria Magdalena Cemetery), San Juan, Puerto Rico
“My husband is an instructor for National Cave Rescue, and they do a lot of training in Puerto Rico. We've been twice now to cave, scuba, and visit with friends on the island. Santa Maria Magdalena Cemetery is a beautiful place in the center of Old San Juan, and I always enjoy photographing it and the forts that encompass it,” said Kristi Weaver.
Slater Mill, Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Joyce E. Gervasio, Foster, Rhode Island
“This is the spark of the American Industrial Revolution! Old Slater Mill…gives you such a snapshot of the life of the millworker, which happens to be my family’s heritage,” said Joyce Gervasio.
Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Mark R. Fay, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
This is the best-preserved German-American theater in the U.S. and a reminder of a time when German-Americans thought of Milwaukee as "Deutsche Athen" (German Athens). Constructed in 1895, the conservative exterior belies the fact that its technical aspects -- acoustics, stage facilities, and fireproof construction -- were quite advanced for their time. The theater closed in 1967, but was restored in the 1970s to appear as it had on opening night in 1895, when patrons were treated to a comedy about a romance between the daughter of an American sausage maker and the son of a German baron.
Jackson Lake Lodge, Moran, Wyoming
Doug Hawthorne, Denver, Colorado
“Jackson Lake Lodge was designed by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood and was completed in 1955. The Lodge is an example of the National Park Service's interpretation of the International Style, which was commonly seen in structures built on U.S. Government parklands in the mid-20th century. The view of the Grand Tetons from the lobby is stunning,” said Doug Hawthorne.
National Historic Landmarks
National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. A National Historic Landmark may be a historic building, site, structure, object, or district. Approximately 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Working with citizens throughout the nation, the National Historic Landmarks Program draws upon the expertise of National Park Service staff to identify and nominate new landmarks and to provide assistance to existing landmarks.
Learn more by visiting the National Historic Landmarks Program page.