North Denver residents remember area history at workshop

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History Colorado hosted a workshop at North High School to record North Denver’s collective past.

DENVER – North Denver is changing a lot. People are overpriced and new businesses are coming.

On Saturday, people who have lived there for decades came together to preserve their memories in a workshop organized by Colorado History.

“I joke that when I come to the Northside I take a piece of grass and put it in my wallet to have a piece of the homeland with me and that’s how I really, honestly feel in my heart” , said Francisco Miera, resident. “I’m a Northsider forever.”

Inside the North High School cafeteria, approximately 100 residents shared their memories and stories with their neighbors.

“I saw a young woman in spandex with a big dog jogging and I knew the neighborhood was changing at that moment,” Rebecca Hunt said, as the audience laughed. “This side was like Capitol Hill before there was Capitol Hill. Its own little town.”

This workshop is about the collective memories of North Denver and the past decades.

“The content of this workshop will work directly to influence the state’s archives and collective memory,” said Marissa Volpe, chief equity and engagement officer for History Colorado.

She said the story of a place should inform and shape how it changes.

“I think there’s really a desire to connect this story to what’s going on,” Volpe said. “There’s a feeling that knowing that enriches what’s to come.”

Lorrie Ibarra Damian has lived on the Northside all his life. She still thinks about the changes in her neighborhood that have been difficult to observe.

“A lot of families who were here for a very long time have since moved on,” she said. “I wish it was as friendly as it was then. Sometimes you’re walking down the street and it might not be as friendly as approaching other people walking around.

Downgrading and gentrification are also part of the memories of this community. A student from North High School read a poem she wrote about it.

“Do you know what immigrant hands picked your organic carrots that you bought from the same store whose floors were built by our parents? My hood, evaporating before my eyes like the sweat and tears of those who preceded me,” said Nayeli Lopez. “Yet here you claim and rename our hoods as you did our land. Ignorant and indifferent to history and the power he brought before. Stranger, is that why I no longer see the paletero?

They remember food.

“La Casita tamales and Patsy’s puttanesca,” Hunt said.

“Across the street from North High School, we used to pass by the gymnasium and there was a Winchell’s across the street,” Bill Lechuga said.

The sounds they heard growing up still echoed in their ears.

“The lady who laughs at Lakeside, not so calming and maybe just a little terrifying,” Damian said.

They won’t forget the people in their neighborhood who inspired them.

“With the Chicano movement, with everything, the Northside gave me a base to be able to talk about, courage,” Miera said.

These neighbors continue to stay close to the community which is still there.

“Thank you all for the memories,” Damian said. “That’s really great to hear.”

Colorado History Memory Museum Initiative preserves the memories of communities across the state. Click here to view the collection so far.

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