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spoko

spoko

Currently reading

The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia
David E. Hoffman
The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov, Diana Burgin, Katherine Tiernan O'Connor
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Arun Gandhi, Marshall B. Rosenberg
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Eric Metaxas, Timothy Keller
Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
Taylor Branch
The Path to Power
Robert A. Caro
The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity
Paul A. Johnsgard
Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Robin D.G. Kelley
Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
Denver Then and Now - Joshua Dinar

Another from the Then and Now series. Much less interesting than the Brooklyn one, unfortunately. Granted, Denver isn't as interesting a city as Brooklyn. But I'm from near Denver, and pretty familiar with it. So I had thought there'd be quite a bit of interest here. I was disappointed.

I think there are a couple of reasons. The first is that Denver, as a city, has systematically erased its own history. There was a period of time when glorious, significant, historical buildings in Denver were demolished without a second thought. So in a sense, a book like this isn't going to have a lot of before-and-after shots to work with. The second reason, though, is that they didn't work with that. The spreads that did look at buildings which disappeared weren't as interesting as they could have been, and there were only a couple such spreads when there should really have been more. It was like Dinar was willing to admit this architectural holocaust had happened, but he didn't really want to address it. It's a shame, because a book like this would have been a perfect forum from which to do so. Then too, on the other pages there isn't much of interest either. There are several shots of various parks where the only thing to note is that they've added flowers where there used to be only grass. Wow.

There is one thing that was interesting, though. Denver came of age during the City Beautiful movement at the turn of the century. I hadn't thought about how much impact that still has on the city today, but Dinar's book does show that legacy. The movement gets a bad rap, I think, as a lot of people still buy the arguments that it was elitist and/or wasteful. I don't think anything is further from the truth. Ample greenspace and aesthetic city design are not at all a waste, and they benefit everyone. I think Denver shows that as much as any city.

Oh, and as a P.S., I have to say that I can't believe he didn't include one of the most stunning examples of the old and the new coming together, the Holy Ghost Church/1999 Broadway Building. Instead we got several layouts featuring the Ugliest Skyscraper of All Time (aka the Wells Fargo Center), which they say looks like a cash register, but which has always looked to me like a schizophrenic mailbox. Whatever. It's ugly either way.