Friday night, G and I went to meet some of the ladies at Pueblo’s First Friday Art Walk in Pueblo’s Historic Union Avenue District:
It started here where one of our friends displays her work. We have several of her pieces, but she had some newer things that reflect a bit of a different style, which I loved. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to buy any art right now, so I’ll just have to visit the gallery more often.
As we were walking to the restaurant for dinner, I realized what a cool little place this area of Pueblo is. We’ve often said that if we ever did give up the house and “go condo” this area would be the place we’d want to be. A while back (probably a year or so), I got out early on a Sunday morning and took some photos:
This is the Bessemer Ditch, an irrigation aqueduct that runs from the Pueblo Reservoir all the way out into eastern Pueblo County where the farms are. In the house where I lived when I first moved to Pueblo, the ditch was literally by back yard. The dome-topped building in the distance is a museum about the CF&I Steel Mill, which still operates in Pueblo under the name of Oregon Steel now. Once upon a time, Pueblo was nearly the biggest city in Colorado because of the mill, and Mr. Bessemer, for whom the ditch and my area of Pueblo is named, is known for a particular steel-making process that he perfected at this mill. Lots of history here in this little town!
Moving towards downtown from here takes you through one of my favorite areas of town, Mesa Junction:
This is a view looking towards the city proper, which is actually down in the river valley. One of the reasons the dam and reservoir were built back when was to stop the tendency of the river to flood out the town every so often. In this area is some really cool architecture:
This building now houses a new favorite coffee shop, The Loft, along with other businesses, and has apartments above. I think having one of those big, round windows would be amazing! Across the street from this building, out of the picture on the right, is one of my VERY favorite places in town, the Pueblo Rawlings Library:
One of the things I noticed about Pueblo when I moved here was that the library (a much older building then) was always very, VERY busy. Kids, adults, elders, and everyone in between were always there. Parking spaces filled up and even the bike racks were full. Several years ago, it became clear that Pueblo was outgrowing its library, and an initiative went on the ballot to actually increase a sales tax to build a new one (above) and it passed! I was very proud of Pueblo when that happened. The new building is on the same site as the old one, centrally located, and I love it. Some people complained, of course, that it was too “modern” but since its opening, the library has definitely become a fixture in the heart of Pueblo. Here are a couple more views, of the “hangover” end and from the back:
This bridge is relatively new, having been “re-vamped” right after I moved here. Because there are actually 2 rivers that run through the city of Pueblo, the Arkansas and the Fountain (aka Fountain “creek”), there are numerous bridges. I remember when I got my first “real” job here, I was actually working on Main Street. I laughed about that to myself, having come from Atlanta where it took nearly an hour just to drive to a grocery store, here I was in Small Town America, working on Main Street.
The taller steeple-looking structure in the distance is the top of City Hall, located on Union Avenue. As you follow the bridge, the Union Avenue district begins to come into view:The tall building on the left is the Union Depot, with a shot of Pike’s Peak to the north. The depot used to be an actual train depot, where folks would wait for trains. Now, the trains still go by, but they are freight trains and passenger trains no longer stop in Pueblo. I think that’s a bit sad.
The actual depot building, however, has been reclaimed, and it houses several condos on the top, various offices in the middle, and on the ground level, has a banquet/party space that is often rented out for weddings, parties and other city functions:
OH! the “hoo-ha” that went on in the paper and around town when this lovely lady arrived! The IDEA of a naked statue in the middle of town?? Dear God, you would have thought the sky was falling. There was initially a big push to remove the sculpture but saner heads prevailed and now she, too, has become a Pueblo fixture.
Finally, here are a few other shots of the Union Avenue area. It’s a funky little place, just a couple of streets, with shops, bars, restaurants, coffee houses and of course, the River Walk which follows part of the original course of the river through town, though under much more controlled conditions!
I love this part of town, but there are plenty of areas around this relatively small place with equal character. Pueblo is a town that’s full of history, a multi-ethnic population that came here because of the mining and the steel mill, and an amazing amount of beauty. Like all places, it has its problems and it’s far from perfect, but after living here for 16 years, while I know I will always want to travel, I have finally found a place that I can call “home”.