La Alma Lincoln Park is striving to be Denver’s second cultural district, after the Welton Street cultural district was created years ago. Now a second cultural district has a lengthy application designation that is a great read. The history? There is plenty of that, but the homes, stretching back into the late 1870s, are Italianate and Queen Anne and more because it is one of the city’s original residential district. And, of course, the Chicano movement still rings true in La Alma Lincoln Park.
A cultural district does not necessarily protect homes and buildings, but there are options that can help homes and buildings to keep them in good shape.
This paragraph below pretty much sums up the core of the application (and the photo again is from Evan Semón’s slide show on Westword):
“Starting in the late 1870s through the 1920s, the neighborhood’s residents, many who were immigrants, were employed by the nearby industries, such as the railroads (Denver & Rio Grande/Burnham Yards) and flour mills (Mullen and Davis Four Mill), which were within walking distance. Employed by these local industries, German, Irish, Italian, Jewish, and Mexican residents settled in the neighborhood. A tightknit community developed, along with a strong sense of belonging to the Westside among those who lived or grew up in the area. By the mid-twentieth century, due to new waves of in-migration, La Alma Lincoln Park had a large population of Latinos, Hispanos, and Mexican American residents and homeowners, including many who became influential Chicano Movement leaders.”
The commission asked for comments (and there were letters) and overwhelmingly most were in favor of it. There was at least one person who wanted to know more and had not heard of this idea of creating a cultural district. Why wasn’t more information passed out around the neighborhood?
A few of the letters from the community had different ideas, though most wanted it to proceed. They worry about gentrification, as they should (don’t we worry about that all the time, since Denver is changing and not necessarily for the better?). Or bump up their taxes?
And then, there was a comment about the landmark commission being all white. That truly didn’t surprise me, since the concept of equity needs to be in place, whether it deals with land or reputation or knowledge.
The most interesting comment was from an Historic Denver trustee who is involved in many other activities in the community and environmental programs: “Latinos and Chicanos asking an all-white commission to please respect our heritage… and ensure telling our own stories, not just about us.”
At some point, one would think that it was about time.
The landmark commissioners all voted to move it on to the Denver City Council, probably in August. On Wednesday at 3 p.m., via Zoom, the Denver Planning Board has a link to a new version of the staff report, and some of the other documents that the landmark preservation commission had reviewed.
But after that comment, it was quite thoughtful – as it should.
Below are links, including the June 29 commission meeting on YouTube – and more.