Monday, October 18, 2010

Post office

Walked down to look at old Post Office, which I think is the building appearing in some of the photographs
Between 18th and 19th on Champa

Views shot on 10/16/10, between 2-3 pm

1. 999: Curtis and 18th?
2. 079
3. 075: Granite Tower
4. 080: looking toward Cable Building, Arapahoe and 18th
5. 057 : shot twice??
6. 095: Central Parking?
7. 058: Sakura
8. 086: is this really south?
9. 081: Cable building
10. 082
11. 087
12. 088: Cole Bros. Circus in 1937 image
13. Market and 16th view (test at 50 mm)

Notes from 10/16/10

Photographed on 10/16/10 (Saturday afternoon)

Good light and beautiful day!

Notes on images:
1) Too much street in foreground with wide angle lens (continuing problem)
2) Test lens at 50 mm (Retina Reflex lens setting in 1978)
3) Bring handheld meter next time
4) Reshoot 079, 075, 080 in black and white
5) Old Colorado National Bank building--federal style (between Champa and Curtis on 17th)

Some photos (as above) shot in color; the rest on Plus-X

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A major caveat!

The area of downtown Denver covered by this project is fairly complex, encompassing streets from Wynkoop to Arapahoe, 14th to 19th. Warehouses and seedy hotels to movie theaters, restaurants, department stores. Sometimes I forget! Wynkoop, Wazee, Blake are more "fun" to document than the almost-completely changed streets like Curtis and Lawrence.

Comments are welcome...

Latest thoughts

As I begin to photograph the streets again, I have come up with a few additional ideas about where this project might go. I've been inspired by the Maria Rogers Oral History community at the Carnegie Branch of the Boulder Public Library. At our meeting yesterday, Susan Becker presented a lovely, five-minute video she created as part of the Digital Storytelling Workshop in Denver ( The video is about her family of origin and a tribute to them. It's deeply moving as well as inspiring. I hope to do one about my own family at some point.

Vimeo is a different program from youtube. Susan has been able to add some music from Philip Glass, for example, which cannot be done on youtube because of their robot crawler that identifies possible copyright violations.

Some folks have asked what I intend to do with this rephotographic project when all the photographs are completed. To start, I would like to augment with some oral history interviews, as I've noted elsewhere on the blog. Perhaps a few, perhaps more than a few, interviewing residents, developers, and folks who remember "the old days"--which could mean 1978.

I'd also like to produce a short video using Vimeo. Some Tom Waits, perhaps; he was very popular in the mid- to late-70's, and he did visit Denver at least once, stopping in at the Terminal Bar. The album, "Nighthawks at the Diner," would be appropriate. A stumbling block would be to obtain a license. I think it could set the mood very well. Dan and I reviewed other music ideas such as using Weather Report...appropriate for the late 70's.

I will also have to get permission from the Colorado Historical Society to use the old images.

More on all this later.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


As the hot days in Denver start to wane, I will be returning, with Sam, to photograph the street corners in this project. Sam and I photographed Wazee Street last September when the weather was really delightful.

I would like to conduct a few oral history interviews this year with business/building owners, longtime Denver residents, architects, urban historians, other photographers, like Kim Allen--who has done some beautiful work in the same neighborhood.

Sam is interested in photographing LoDo at night, and extending the project above 19th street. Once we're finished with the current streets, I think that will be an excellent idea. He can re-photograph those streets in 10 or 20 years! (This could be endless).

In the meantime, I consult in Denver and often walk through downtown to catch the bus to Boulder. I continue to be amazed by the vibrancy of life in downtown, although the mix of buildings still looks pretty random to me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Fed in Denver

Walked from California and 17th to Market and 17th today. Wonder where that federal looking building was? Also wonder about the Federal Reserve building. Here's what the website says about its history:

"The Denver Branch officially opened its doors on January 14, 1918. The first building to house the Denver Branch was located just down the street at 111 17th Street, before moving in 1968 to its current location at 1020 16th Street."

The original building must have been in the upper area of downtown where Norred would not have photographed. Always thought the current one looked intimidating; like it had teeth that would chomp down on you if you approached it without consent. Fortress-like, but short, compared to the giants around it.

Getting stuck on individual buildings now...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Locations photographed on 7/16 & 7/17

Plus X 125 36 exposures

7/16/10 (10:15-10:30 AM):

1-2: #905
3-4: #908
5-6: #898

7/17/10 (8:30-9:45 AM):

7-10: #049
11-12: #035
13-15: #036
16-17: #057
18-19: #042 (9:15 AM)
20-21: #050
22-23: #979
24-25: #037 [finally figured it out!]
26-27: #043
28-29: #051
30-31: #040
32-33: #044 [9:45 AM]
34-35: #052
36: #045 - should retake this at 50mm lense (corner - Denver School of Nursing)

Photographed yesterday and today

It's beastly hot in Denver; high 90's. On June 16th (2010) I was able to make 6 exposures on 14th and 15th streets, 10-10:15 am. By then the temp was well into the 90's. I stopped then to go on to my oral history consulting.

Today (71/17) I was on the bus in Boulder at 7:15. Had some kind of drug reaction to an allergy medication so by the time I got to Denver, I felt woozy and sick. After a bagel at Einstein's, I went on to photograph at 8:30 am. Got 30 exposures made on 19th street, Curtis, Arapahoe, Lawrence and Larimer. Felt upset about a nice-looking federal style building that no longer exists (it was there in 1978). Don't have the old image, unfortunately. By 9:45 I was totally wilting. It must have been way over 90 by then. Sun very strong.

Not many people on the street, but I did try to get some in the photos and de-emphasize cars. People looked, one lady said hello. I'm always a little shy and self-conscious photographing on the street. I could never have done it in the 60's.

Reading a wonderful book after Googling "rephotographic projects." This is by Douglas Levere, called "New York Changing." He re-did Berenice Abbott's work from the 30's ("Changing New York") and was able to even use one of her cameras. It's a beautiful book, a Cadillac compared to my Corolla. Starting to think the real value of my project is reference rather than beauty, although there are some very interesting views. Partly: Norred's images were not very good in many cases. Maybe he was rushing at that point to get everything covered. And what happened to the rest of the downtown images? Were they ever done? The CHS records are flimsy in that regard. Think he was laid off by WPA before the project finished.

Another problem: I only have xeroxes for the older ('37) photos, except for the 40 or so I prepared in the early 80's fo9r exhibition. The CHS photographer in those years used a stabilizing machine, brought over from his original lab, to make photographs from the original negs and of course, by the mid-80's these images were hardly stable. I had to throw them out because they were polluting my files and couldn't been seen anymore or even xeroxed. So I only have the 1978 views. More on that later.

Sam and I talked last night about the culture of Lodo. He mentioned that the sports bars down on Larimer, Market and Blake attract different clientele. For example, the hockey bars are rougher than the Broncos bars and the baseball bars are more refined than either of those. Also, on Saturday nights, men with taco pushcarts come to Lodo to sell their food and do a brisk business. I believe I've seen some of them during the day up around 17th and 18th streets. It would be fun to document that.

The red bicycles are also interesting. Saw a couple riding them today down Arapahoe.

Will wrap this up and water tomatoes and make shakshouka.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wynkoop street, however you say it

Why do I keep explaining how to pronounce Wynkoop?

Starting up again!

I'm back on the project! Whew-hoo! It's been quite a few months, had some oral history consulting, job searching and trying to stay warm all winter in my cold house.

Today, I was down in Denver retrieving a lost sweater at Tattered Cover bookstore and I decided to mosey down to Lawrence and 19th Streets to investigate a view. I had the 1978 print, but haven't yet located the 1937 image, either in print or xerox format. This view (037) shows either the front or the back of Sunset Park--now owned by Volunteers of America--and Okner's Firestone shop. Okner's goes back to the 30's. It took quite awhile to find the right building, and it looks like Okner's is either a parking lot now or obliterated by a modern, large building. Meanwhile I'm hunting feverishly for the '37 image.

I am also editing my list of photographs. Since I took many of the pictures a year apart (separated by my gig on the railroad), I know that I duplicated some and may have missed a few others. In addition, I was given a bunch of small prints by the photograph librarian at CHS (who I succeeded in 1980), and apparently I didn't rephotograph those in '80. Ah well--so who knows what the streets looked like in 1978-80? The important thing is that I got the bulk of the project done.

My plan is to get everything organized in terms of paperwork and finish the photography this summer. I hope that Sam can join me again on a shoot. We'll do a few streets and then have lunch and a beer at the Wynkoop. (Wyan-koop, not Win-koop, folks.) I've developed a new love for downtown Denver--Denver in general--after commuting down to DU for awhile. Boulder's a great town but Denver's alive. I imagine some of it is nostalgia for the late 70's, but it's still a very different place.

I try to imagine the urban historians of 2100 and wonder what they will make of this project; hopefully it will exist. Climate change looms, of course...

That's a sad note to end on...I try to keep up optimism.

After this project who knows where I will go with photography?