DescriptionThis single-case study explores a cultural nonprofit house museum’s proposal to create a historic district on New York’s Lower East Side, a low-income but gentrifying neighborhood, in 2006-2007. The museum’s proposal failed because the museum didn't engage potential neighborhood allies in true bottom-up planning, and because the City’s landmarks law made it impossible for the museum’s proposal to address the neighborhood’s foremost concern, which was loss of affordable housing. This study suggests that in the postindustrial city it's very difficult for low-income communities to use culture to lay claim to their neighborhoods. It also suggests that historic preservation laws allow higher-income neighborhoods to protect themselves from the creative destruction of redevelopment by becoming historic districts, while still allowing wealth-generating redevelopment to happen in lower-income neighborhoods. The study suggests further research is needed to see if there is a causal link between historic district designation and gentrification.