History Colorado staff and other writers chronicle the latest preservation success stories, share new perspectives on the past, and peer behind the scenes into the care and documentation of our collections. Read on to learn about how rare collections of historic artifacts and photographs are stored, cared for, and put on view. Find out what Colorado communities are doing to preserve their past for future generations. And, read in-depth histories of Colorado people and events of the past that still matter to us today.
We're now accepting guest contributions to our blog! We are especially seeking stories of underrepresented people and places across our state. Email hello at historycolorado.org to learn more.
Note: Photographs in blog articles are from the History Colorado collection unless credited otherwise. To inquire about digital copies or permissions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in and completeness of articles written by guest contributors do not necessarily represent History Colorado.
While lots of cities had electric-powered streetcars, trolleys, and trams during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, relatively few had Birneys.
Birneys were the Volkswagen Beetles of the streetcar world: They were small, light, mass-produced, and relatively affordable. About six thousand of them were built from 1915 until 1930. Today only a handful of Birneys are left in the world, and perhaps a dozen of them are still being operated as rail lines.
Fort Collins’s Birney Car 21 is one of them, and it turns a century old this year. Its full name is Fort Collins Municipal Railway’s Birney Car 21, but people also call it “Car 21” or just “Birney.”
January marked the fifth anniversary of the legal commercial sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado. Passed by ballot initiative on November 6, 2012, Amendment 64 legalized the private consumption of marijuana in Colorado and it was officially added to the state’s constitution on December 10, 2012. That same day Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order calling for a task force to resolve any legal and policy concerns. As a result of Hickenlooper’s order the first marijuana stores didn’t open until January 1, 2014, when the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code was enacted.
History Colorado has been actively acquiring objects and seeking donations related to the legalization of cannabis in the state as part of a contemporary collecting initiative to document and preserve this historic event for future Coloradans. Items collected so far range from water pipes to western wear to documentary films.
Enjoying springtime in Colorado is just as likely to be about snow activities as hikes to see wildflowers. If you’re seeking a break that will transport you not only to new places but also to Colorado’s past, here are a few places to consider.
Many Denver residents are familiar with the historic Grant-Humphreys Mansion at 770 Pennsylvania Street. Colorado’s third governor, James B. Grant, ordered his mansion built in 1902, and Grant’s widow sold it to Albert Edmund Humphreys Sr. in 1917. But most Denver residents aren’t aware of the mansion’s connection to Denver aviation history.
Today, Denver’s LoDo is home to a number of thriving businesses, apartment complexes, restaurants, and art galleries. This area was once home to Denver’s Chinatown. Near modern-day Coors Field, Chinatown—also known as Hop Alley—formed along Wazee Street. It became the residential and business center of Chinese migrants living in the city in the 1870s. Despite this, there remains no trace of Denver’s Chinatown, with the exception of a commemorative plaque on the corner of Twentieth and Blake streets.
Virginia Castro is known to many as the widow of late Chicano leader and state representative Richard Castro, but, like him, she has a story of her own. She recently shared her oral history with us—you can listen to it here. Read on for a brief summary of her life in Colorado.
Ever since its founding in 1858, Denver has served as a hub for people passing from one destination to another. Because Denver has no navigable rivers, its destiny was instead carved out by the evolution of the railroad.
Although the work involved in constructing a mountain passage initially made railroad builders wary, by 1870 both the Denver Pacific and Kansas Pacific Railways ran through town. We can experience this nexus of traffic today by visiting Union Station in Denver’s LoDo neighborhood. However, with many new buildings in this area of the city, it may take some imagination to recall what transportation looked like in this warehouse district once lined with buildings made from brick and timber.
Here are some things you might not know about Union Station that are sure to help spark your curiosity.
Barbara E. Sternberg was a member of the Denver Woman’s Press Club who in 2011 wrote the biography Anne Evans—A Pioneer in Colorado’s Cultural History. This article is reprinted with permission from the blog Sternberg developed after this book was published. Anne Evans was a resident of the present-day Center for Colorado Women’s History at the Byers-Evans House Museum, one of the statewide Community Museums of History Colorado.