Posts Tagged ‘Kim Allen’

Photographing Denver 1984–1992

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

—by Kim Allen

Back in the 80’s and 90’s I photographed some of Denver’s architecture. This period was the transition of some of Denver’s past architectural heritage and merging of contemporary designs. I had to document some of these buildings before they were gone; it was a tremendous experience. Buildings have a little bit of us in them, and we in them, we need each other. Let us go out and revisit some of these links of our lives in a brief little journey.

1.) Wynkoop’s founding members. On a bright fall day, certainly deserted in lower downtown, some dreams and a wonderful building were fermenting to add to an emerging civic pride in Denver. I had an appointment with the “crew” at the Wynkoop Brewing Co. and walked into a bustling construction project. Sawdust on the floor, I could envision the sight and smell of beer and its enthusiasts. The large sign, “Wynkoop Brewing Company,” was a perfect backdrop for some of the founding members as they proudly stood below. Amid the grime and abandoned streets and buildings, the group and dog excitedly were captured on film. It is one of my favorite photographs. 1988

2.) Auditorim Arena/Temple Buell Theatre. It was a Sunday morning, back in the day a great time to jump over a fence and look onto memories. I had danced in elementary school on that floor, seen concerts and basketball games. On the corner of 13th and Champa, we picked up our baseball uniforms as members of ” The Oldtimers League ” as youths. I looked onto the floor and the balcony seats dismanting, a huge mechanical crane now at the “freethrow line.” The seats wrapped around me. High up, the long windows welcomed beautiful rays of sunshine casting down. It was exciting and sad at the same time to view this scene. 1992

3.) Manuel Martinez Mural. Sanchez Park, 13th and Federal Blvd. This image repesented the Spanish heritage of Denver. I would think of the Indians as well, the Platte River just beyond, and nearby Cherry Creek. The mural, an homage to nature, contrast with downtown, different worlds, never to meet. 1986

4.) Elitch Theatre. The theatre was inviting and charming, intimate and glowing. All the wood, the chairs and beams grace a gentle atmosphere. Hosting many high quality plays, the amusement park was relocating, and the theatre would not be able to make the move. A special place, soulful and peaceful. 1992

5.) 16th St. Viaduct looking S.E. over Platte St. and into lower downtown. A long and strong viaduct piercing the valley from the Highlands to downtown. Above the ground 25 feet, the blacktop road and steel handrails connect the neighborhoods. Central St. to the west, and Wazee St. to the east, and spanning Platte St. Remember those stairs up from the ground at various points, leading to the bus stops? 1984

6.) Mammoth Gardens grand re-opening. The Fernandez family owed the gardens, revitalized it and had a wonderful party to open it again. Over the years roller skating and even some rock and roll concerts in the late 60’s had been at the gardens. Tonight belonged to the Fernandez family and the great Tito Puente Band to entertain the dancing, and seated crowd, at large round tables. It was impressive, happy and exciting. 1992

7.) The Acme and Volker buildings were some of the first restorations into lofts in lower downtown. Two beautiful sleeping warehouses between the Speer Viaducts, cars racing by in each direction, soon welcomed sunshine and life would return to the buildings. This would be the start of revitalization of LoDo and help energize the entire city, our pride was back. I will mention the names of the people that gave us a great vision to complete these wonderful buildings and still continue on with the vibrant projects. Dana Crawford, Larry Nelson, Joe Simmons, Mickey Zeppelin and Charlie Woolley. 1985

8.) 16th St. looking north on Wazee St. where some of the revitalization was beginning, with Stuart Buchanan fine antiques and Oxford Hotel on the left and Rockmount Ranch Wear and the Terminal Bar on the right. Firemens Gain Elevator at the end of Wazee St. in the middle of image. It was a great (still) area, the neighborhood had numerous projects, the Edrooke, the Wynkoop, Acme and Volker. The Oxford Hotel and Cruise Room . . . and the Terminal Bar. 1988

B50 Note: Kim Allen is a photographer who extensively chronicled the changes that occurred in downtown Denver in the 1980s and 1990s. For more information on Denver during this era, visit Kim’s website at denverphotoarchives.com. Photographs and text are provided courtesy of the artist (©1884-1992).

Under the Viaducts

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

The viaducts were designed to carry automobile traffic over the railroads, Platte River and flood plain. Ten viaducts spanned the Platte Valley from 6th Avenue to the Brighton Street Viaduct.. Eventually the viaducts deteriorated and were replaced with ground level roadways that created access to the development we see today. I see the future potential of Denver with my mind, but the wonderful memories of the old viaducts stay in my heart.

Let’s go back to the viaducts from 1983-1993. The viaducts were beautiful, full of magnificent curves and straight lines of strength! The viaducts’ roadways offered expansive views of the city or the mountains. A closer view gazed down the Platte Valley or at a nearby historic structure.

For me, however, my favorite place was on the ground, sharing time with the steel and concrete viaducts. Only the 15th Street Viaduct had road travel directly beneath it at ground level. This road serviced the huge Post Office Terminal, Wazee Supper Club and My Brothers Bar. The old Monarch Mills building at Delgany Street was demolished and replaced with the superb new MCA building and the old Moffatt Train Station, which still stands a couple of blocks to the west.

Walking under the viaducts was generally quiet; some of my neighbors were rabbits and birds. The sight and sound of trains sometimes interrupted my peaceful wandering to remind me of the railroads’ heritage in the valley. The viaducts themselves arose from the dirt with powerful, unswerving lines and beautiful curves and arches. They were surrounded at each end by buildings and asphalt that replaced the dirt. The supporting beams or columns of the viaducts provided natural frames for structures or scenes near them.

From the top of the viaduct, strong shadows cast down to the surface, suggesting a place where grand mysteries lived. I will miss some of those meditative journeys; most people were not able to experience the viaduct world. If in this text and photos you get a small look and a little sense of the past, then I have done my job.

— Kim Allen
Images ©1986-1991, denverphotoarchive.com

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Trucker’s Terminal Implosion, 1992

Monday, December 8th, 2008

The Fireman’s Grain Elevator stood 120 feet tall at 20th Street and Wazee at the center of abandoned small buildings and remnants of our rail and distribution heritage. Surrounded by days gone by, it looked proudly over the area in silence.

Times had changed, and trucking had replaced railroads as the preferred means of commerce into the heart of the city. “Truckers Terminal” was now displayed in large painted letters on its huge flat walls. Tractor-trailers were parked on the bricks inlayed by the previous era. The bricks as well as the entire area would be scrapped for the beginning construction of Coors Field. The bricks were piled in a long and high mount that I called “the brick pile” hardly romantic…

Time had dictated the demise of the Fireman’s Grain Elevator and its part in storing and distributing grain to the Rocky Mountain West – the huge box like structure held tough until the end. To document its part in Denver’s heritage, I would witness its implosion with others. My goal was to get the best photograph of the day.

I admit, I was a bit territorial in my attitude to document this day on film, having roamed this area extensively. Confident, I thought the day belonged to me. Early in the day I did a cursory scouting trip to check out the scene, everyone was camped out 1000 feet to the west of the implosion site. My main concerns were the phototographers from the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post who I respected greatly – they were also grouped with the others, good. Their view would be good with the backdrop of the city, but I wanted a place directly across the street, just 200 Feet from the implosion.

The day had arrived, and the area was being cordoned off for safety. I had to act fast, onto a fence I climbed, pulling myself and photo gear onto the roof. I set up my tripod, camera with motordrive, I composed my shot and waited. Soon a loud forboding siren gave a warning. Silence – BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM-BOOM – the building was going down, leaning to its right, it collapsed into the ground. I had captured it all, as if in slow motion. A huge cloud of blown up concrete dust soon surrounded and covered me. Into the dust, I shimmed down the back of the building, into the alley, and found 20th Street. I had done it.

-Kim Allen / DenverPhotoArchives.com

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