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Changing Denver

Changing Denver: Re-photographing Downtown

In 1937, a photographer working at the State Historical Society and funded by the WPA was asked to document all the street corners in downtown Denver. The stated purpose of the project was to create a complete photographic record of downtown in the 1930’s that would be available to people in the year 2000. Cyril Norred’s project was never finished, but he did manage to create a visual record of virtually all of lower downtown—LoDo—an area bounded by 14th Street to 19th street, Wynkoop to Curtis.

I found these images fascinating when I first saw them at the museum in 1978. Inspired, I decided to repeat his work. I rephotographed all 225 street corners and in 1981, exhibited 37 of the best before-and-after images in galleries around Denver. In addition, Colorado Heritage featured several of the photographs in an article entitled “Forty Years of Change: Contrasting Images of Lower Downtown Denver.”

Then in 2009, Sam Fairchild and I decided to rephotograph the same street corners that were documented in the previous decades. We completed the work in 2012, marveling at the evolution of the “Queen City of the Plains” over 75 years.

 


 

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Wazee and 15th Street


 
Arapahoe and 18th Street


 
Blake and 15th Street


 
Lawrence And 18th Street


 
Larimer and 18th Street


 
Wynkoop and Cherry Creek


 
Wazee and 16th Street


 
Wynkoop and 16th Street