A few weeks ago, I took a tour of building for lease on Northern Avenue. Somewhere in between the dusty rundown upstairs, the partially vacated ground floor and the dungeon level -- I mean basement -- something stood out about this building that couldn’t be seen from the outside. This building was the symbol for Pueblo.
You see some of that building was still usable and would be a nice place for the group I was with to start a business. Some of it had unlimited potential and with a little work it could be a promising business in Bessemer. Much of the building needed so much improvement that it demands tenants with bottomless pockets to return the building to its past glory. This paradox of greatness -- the limitless potential in an area rich with history, life buzzing incessantly around it which starkly contrasts its obvious abandonment both in the buildings around it and the empty rooms left to serve no purpose -- is us as a city.
This is Pueblo. This is the east side, it’s Bessemer and Main Street, it’s the west side and parts of the county. Everywhere in Pueblo you see the rot of ignorance set in on the buildings and then infect the people. Yet, the awe of our bustling past mixed in with the grandeur of our culture, architecture and promise is found in each of these same places.
I don’t know where we went wrong but I do know that large swathes of Pueblo goes ignored. If Bessemer, with its proximity to one of the most important interstates in the West, is left in this state of disrepair -- god help you on the east side.
Why talk about Pueblo in this way as if blight has taken hold and we are in the last throes before turning into a ghost town? For many, including myself there is a sense of frustration but also deep, deep reverence for the place we call home.
In this issue, we tried to capture in images the heart of Pueblo. Not the heart you see on a map but a spirit of what Pueblo would be if we were to cure ourselves from the sickening virus of apathy.
We need to tell ourselves it’s okay to love Pueblo. We need to stop apologizing as if we are the last of the living in a soon-to-be dead town. We are not. Do you see the pride and greatness on the faces of the business owners in our Northern Avenue piece? Can you imagine first generation families building an American life in the Grove?
If you are waiting for someone to give you permission to love Pueblo and see its greatness, here it is:
There is no place in the world quite like Pueblo. Trust us, we’ve been other places and there is something truly special about Pueblo.
We are exactly like that corner building in Bessemer — a little run down but not dead. We need to stop living like we are. Our neighborhoods need attention and love but we are a community willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We know our future can be beautiful and fruitful though we can no longer ignore what has gone abandoned for so long.