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Colorado Springs & Pikes Peak Avenue: 1890 and Now

Pikes Peak towers beyond Pikes Peak Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs in October 2018. Photograph @ Stewart M. Green

One of my many projects is recreating the modern scenes of old photographs of Colorado Springs. So much of the city's storied ambiance and architecture has vanished under the guise of urban renewal. Like in the mid-1970s when much of the downtown area was decimated, destroyed, and razed to make way for new and exciting buildings...which were never built. Many former building sites remain as parking lots.

One of the architectural gems to fall was the old Chief Theater, which opened in 1912 as the Burns Opera House. The theater boasted plush green velvet seatings, broad balconies, and a soaring ceiling painted with angelic cherubs. This local jewel was deemed too expensive to renovate so it was torn down for a drive-up bank, which it remains today.

Next door the Out West Building was razed and its site remains as a parking lot in the center of downtown. No respect for the past in the '70s. Fortunately, many historic buildings are now preserved and repurposed for new businesses.

These two photographs depict Pikes Peak Avenue, the downtown's main east-west street. The avenue lies directly east of Pikes Peak's summit. The historic image was made by pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson in 1890, while I shot the current photograph on an early October morning.

Pikes Peak looms over Pikes Peak Avenue in 1890. Note the dirt street, streetcar tracks and tram, the old Antler's Hotel at the west end of the avenue, and the carriages and buggies. Photograph by William Henry Jackson.

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