There are a lot of reasons to think that the way property was valued around the time of the first world war has powerful relevance for right now: we are well along a secular trend to return to denser housing for a whole bunch of reasons and many cities are re-investing in commuting infrastructure other than for privately owned cars.
" Our analysis also shows the strong role that history continues to play in the current spatial structure of the city. A result of this persistence is that land values from a century ago are better than current land values at predicting the density of the current housing stock."
The old data is surely useful, because there's a strong rhyme going on between now and a hundred years ago. But I would argue that has little to do with the "role that history" plays or played or wtf. The same forces that made some parcels valuable in 1913 are back in play now.