A historic district or heritage district is a section of a city which contains older buildings considered valuable for historical or architectural reasons. In some countries or jurisdictions, historic districts receive legal protection from certain types of development.
Historic districts may or may not also be the center of the city. They may be coterminous with the commercial district, administrative district, or arts district, or separate from all of these. Historical districts are often parts of a larger urban setting, but they can also be parts or all of small towns, or a rural areas with historic agriculture-related properties, or even a physically disconnected series of related structures throughout the region.
Much criticism has arisen of historic districts and the effect protective zoning and historic designation status laws have on the housing supply. When an area of a city is designated as part of a 'historic district', new housing development is artificially restricted and the supply of new housing permanently capped in area so designated as 'historic'. Critics of historic districts argue that while these districts may offer an aesthetic or visually pleasing benefit, they increase inequality by restricting access to new and affordable housing for lower and middle class tenants and potential home owners.