“I see our city disappearing,” says everyone in Denver who has lived here for a while.

Well, it’s true, right?

Since there was a choice between COVID and the Olympics, I took a different path last night. Watching the public hearing at the Denver City Council meeting on Channel 8 was the topic of designating La Alma Lincoln Park as an historic cultural district.

That was the best choice, believe me, because there were numerous people speaking on the importance of this neighborhood – whether it is the architecture, its significance (like 1873 to 1980), and the knowledge of the Chicano movement that stemmed from that neighborhood. And more. (The photograph here is from Denverite’s post today, and from History Colorado — great photo.)

This district, honestly, is the real deal. Not the ersatz apartment buildings that may last for a while with amazingly ridiculous names. As for La Alma Lincoln Park, take a spin around it and understand why the people who live there actually love it. For one thing, there is memory, because so much of this city has no memory at all anymore, like scrape it and forget it. And for another thing, neighbors have neighbors, and they talk to them.  

Not to embellish this, I have written about this neighborhood several times, as the neighbors signed the application designation working with the city and Historic Denver – and it only took about 4-ish years to get this done. But it was pretty much from ground up, not top down. Most who spoke at the public hearing wanted the neighborhood designated, but a few had concerns, like they hadn’t been approached to learn things or the fear that the homes and land costs would be climbing.

Of course, every member of the city council OK’d it, as they should. I would think even a few members might be worried about the fact that memory has gone down the tubes. The homes in the neighborhood now can tap into tax credits and other types of financial help for improvements. 

The oddest thing that happened at this public hearing was with actual people who were actually speaking. There was a hybrid, too, but the virtual situation didn’t work all the time, and lost some of the people who wanted to be counted in.

Historic Denver summed up this situation for members this morning:

“The La Alma Lincoln Park Historic Cultural District is now the 57th historic district and the second historic cultural district in the City and County of Denver. The first was the Five Points Historic Cultural District, which was established in 2002 as the Welton Street Corridor and updated and renamed in 2015 to recognize the importance of Five Points within the Black community.”

sI can see that other communities would like to be part of this plan, too: Asian Americans, Indigenous people, other communities, and the Orthodox Jewish community (which Council Representative in District 1 Amanda Sandoval mentioned that was on her plate: good for her!). 

And Council Representative District 3, Jamie Torres, helped spearhead this to make sure this neighborhood was in the spotlight – as it should be. 

She was quoted as this, in Denverite: “ ‘Historic designation is our human attempt to ensure our roots aren’t forgotten, erased, built over, and every day in Denver, I see our city disappearing,’  Councilmember Jamie Torres said during Monday night’s meeting. She represents the area where the historic cultural district will be. ‘It is a deeply emotional designation, and one that I think we all take really seriously.’ ”

This does not make me think we have siloed these communities, but just share their knowledge and, yes, their memories. Denver cannot say that amnesia is fine – when it is not.

Lots of links, beginning with the link to the public hearing last night (beginning at 1:44). Other links also deal with the information from the city, but also stories posted this morning in The Denver PostDenverite, and Colorado Politics. And now that neighborhood can go forward. 




La Alma Lincoln Park Customized Draft Design Guidelines available for review online: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Community- Planning-and-Development/Landmark-Preservation/La-Alma-Lincoln- Park-Designation 

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