America’s urban centers do not have much of a historical consciousness. Buildings come and go with the changing times. All the attention is usually focused on the new, which leaves older structures to languish in anonymity. When a spurt of development takes place, older houses and buildings often seem because of their anonymity dispensable, eyesores and remnants of a bygone era who overstayed their welcome.
But a unique Denver Public Library project hopes to recover the hidden history of Denver’s neighborhoods and in doing so also recover a sense of place through the recounting of history.
To this end, the Denver Public Library has recently launched a site documenting the history of Denver’s historic neighborhoods. The Creating Communities project profiles seven communities: Auraria, Barnum, Capitol Hill, Five Points, Park Hill, University Park, and West Colfax. It hopes to document more in the future.
For each of the neighborhoods, there is a general history as well as detailed descriptions of historic buildings, people, geography, community organizations, and galleries of archival pictures of each of the neighborhoods. If you want to find out who lived in a specific house, you can even use the householder directory to access public records.
The project will work to digitize information on Denver’s neighborhoods from official records of the city as well as the resources of individuals and institutions in order to create a historical information database. The project hopes to add more neighborhoods in the future.
The project has been made possible by a $1.5 million grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.