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60 Minute Cities Denver


/ I was raised in Colorado and lived in the proximity of Denver for a long time before moving to the city in 2010 / Denver has always been a charming city in my eyes - a little cowtown known as the “Queen City of the Plains� that sits at the foot of the Rocky Mountains / These recordings were made in the summer of 2019 when I returned to Denver after my first year in China / For this project I visited locations that hold significant memories for me as well as those that offer a connection to stillness and nature that has been difficult to find in the megacities of China / I found that the recording process itself also allowed me to access a meditative sense of stillness as I listened closely to often quiet sounds / Another goal with these recordings was to capture some of the ways in which Denver has both changed and remained the same over different periods of time / Like many cities around the world right now, Denver is experiencing great change through gentrification and thus becoming a city that many long-time residents can no longer afford to live in //


/ August 2, 2019 /1:59 pm /39.731833, -104.987887 / Cheesman Park / In 1858 General William Larimer created the Mt. Prospect Cemetery on land that still legally belonged to the Arapaho tribe / In 1861, under the Treaty of Fort Wise, the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes were pressured to cede most of their land, including all of present day Denver, in order to make room for white settlers who were arriving as part of the gold rush / By 1890 the cemetery had fallen into disrepair and the city planned to turn it into a park / Families were given 90 days to move the bodies of their loved ones who had been buried there, but few came / The city hired an undertaker to dig up the bodies and place them into new coffins to be reburied elsewhere / Since he was paid by the coffin, the undertaker quickly realized he could distribute one set of bones out amongst several coffins, along with some extra dirt, and receive two or three times as much money for the work of unearthing each body / The city canceled his contract and began construction of Cheesman Park in 1894 with an estimated 2,000 bodies still buried underneath that still remain today / In the 1910s my great grandmother Katharine Constant lived just a few blocks away from the park in a large house with her family / She wrote letters every day to her fiancee who was finishing his degree in Illinois / In this recording I walk along the east side of the park and read a letter she wrote in September 1914 after walking through the same part of the park //

02 / July 12, 2019/8:08 pm / 39.7807912, -105.0539735 / Lakeside Amusement Park / My favorite place in

the world! / Lakeside opened in 1908 and still retains much of its original art deco architecture and ambiance / Every summer I savor the nostalgic experience of riding the very same rides that my father and uncles rode as small children in the 1960s / There’s a particular sense of wonderment that comes from the park’s timelessness / As the name implies, Lakeside is set next to a large lake with a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains behind it / All the rides are paid for with various amounts of 50 cent coupons, making it an affordable alternative to the commercial amusement park in downtown Denver / This recording captures the experience of riding the park’s most popular attraction - a wooden roller coaster from the year 1940 named The Cyclone //

03 / July 12, 2019 / 10:48pm / 39.7508855, -104.9852885 / Mercury Cafe / The Mercury Cafe

is a space that feels too good to be real in the “New Denver� of shiny, ugly condos and concrete food halls / Mercury Cafe has existed in a few different locations since 1975 when it was opened by its present-day owner Marilyn Megenity / In the 1980s it occupied a space in Capitol Hill where many punk bands such as the Dead Kennedys, The Misfits, Black Flag and X played / The current location has a hippie-friendly restaurant serving locally sourced food along with two large rooms that host dance lessons, concerts, yoga classes, poetry slams, film screenings and a variety of other community events / The bright red interior is decorated with a web of twinkling white lights that give it a special sense of magic / In this recording my friends and I enjoy vegan chocolate mousse and tea after a trip to Lakeside //

04 / July 16, 2019 / 5:40pm / 39.7186548,

-104.9740062 /Cherry Creek Bike Path / Right through the middle of Denver runs Cherry Creek, which empties into the South Platte River / It has a bike path alongside it which I used to frequently ride when I lived in Denver / I always enjoyed watching the motion of the water as I biked alongside it and seeing the mood of the creek change as the different seasons passed //

05 / July 10, 2019 /12:51pm / 39.7752480, -104.9724837 / Riverside Cemetery / Riverside was established in 1876 and is Denver’s oldest operating cemetery / Located on the banks of the South Platte River, this was once a lovely site for families to visit and have a Sunday picnic / Today, though, it exists in the middle of highways, factories, oil refineries, and train tracks / The cemetery lost its water rights in 2005 and has transformed into a yellowed landscape of tombstones and dead trees with smokestacks in the background / Right next door are two of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods: Globeville and Elyria-Swansea which have long been occupied by immigrants and today are mostly Latino / In recent years they have been deemed the most polluted zip code in the entire country due to poor air quality and toxic chemicals left in the soil from various industrial operations / The community is experiencing further hardship from the ongoing expansion project of highway I-70 which runs through the middle of the neighborhood and has led to the demolition of 56 homes and 17 businesses //

06 / July 12, 2019 / 2:13 pm / 39.737334,

-104.987887 / Denver Central Library / I’ve always felt the library to be one of the city’s most important institutions and I have a special fondness for the postmodern architecture of this particular branch / I appreciate the fact that the library is a public space open to all where the staff are strongly committed to serving their most vulnerable patrons who depend on the library for so many services / This recording was made in the library’s community technology center and captures the quiet sounds of fingers typing on keyboards, money getting dropped into the print release station, and librarians offering their assistance //

07 /August 1, 2019 / 6:51 am / 39.8212820, -104.8661470 / Rocky Mountain Arsenal / I’d never visited the arsenal

before this summer - I had always noticed it on maps as a giant green space right next to the city and was curious what might be there / I learned a bison herd lives on the land and set out one morning to find them / The space is so named because it used to be a chemical weapons manufacturing facility during World War II / In the 1980s a massive cleanup of the area was done and eventually 15,000 acres were set aside as a wildlife refuge that houses more than 330 species of animals / Sixteen American bison were brought to the refuge in 2007 and now the herd includes about 200 / There was a huge amount of activity among the herd because they were in the middle of the rut, or mating season / Male bison butted heads with each other, rolled in the dirt to leave their scent behind, and let out a variety of snorts and bellows //

08 / July 16, 2019 / 9:16pm /39.7678656,

-104.9156520 / Park Hill Neighborhood / A peaceful summer evening in the suburbs of Denver / The homes in this neighborhood are all beautiful midcentury bungalows made of blond bricks that typify Denver architecture in my mind / My friend and I write in our journals together and wait for the intermittent cries of cicadas //

09 / July 10, 2019 / 1:44pm / 39.7752480, -104.9724837 / Demolition on Brighton

Boulevard / Brighton Boulevard runs northeast of downtown Denver / Once upon a time it was a part of the city that was mostly industrial and full of warehouses / In 2005 one of these warehouses was turned into a DIY music venue and collective called Rhinoceropolis that my friends and I used to frequent / For over a decade this space was the center of an underground scene of artists, musicians, and other creative folks who were often marginalized by mainstream society / It was shut down by city officials in 2016, sending waves of distress through Denver’s DIY community / In 2019 Rhinoceropolis was able to reopen as a music venue after being brought up to fire code / Its future is uncertain, though, as the area has become a trendy arts district full of luxury condos that are far too expensive for Denver’s artists to live in / This recording captures the demolition of a building at 4201 Brighton Boulevard, just a few blocks from Rhinoceropolis, as part of a massive redevelopment project //

10 / July 10, 2019 / 3:20 pm / 39.753193,

-105.000962 /Union Station / The heart of downtown Denver has always felt to me like a strange part of town meant for tourists and people that like to dine at expensive restaurants / I don’t find myself here often, but when I do, I always enjoy walking past its beautiful old buildings / Union Station is a grand beaux-arts style building from 1912 that serves as a big hub for many public transportation routes / As I passed the station, I was drawn to the sound of a young punk doing jumps on his skateboard / I sat for a while to listen to the satisfying sound of the wheels rolling over the pavement as trains came and went //

BIO / Katherine Peterson is a middle school math

teacher with a strong interest in sound / She was born and raised in the United States, but currently resides in Suzhou, China / For the past decade she’s been making field recordings in an effort to document a sense of place and highlight the musicality of everyday sounds / She has also spent 7 years as a radio DJ and recently began her own solo experimental project with alto saxophone after playing in an avant-garde performance art group in Denver / Some of Katherine’s recording work can be found on the compilation Still Waiting on Patient Sounds Records // Website:

All recordings and images Copyright 2019 Katherine Peterson and are used with permission / Book design and layout Copyright 2019 Bivouac Recording and may not be reproduced without permission / For more information about the 60 Minute Cities project please visit:

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60 Minute Cities- Denver  

I was raised in Colorado and lived in the proximity of Denver for a long time before moving to the city in 2010 / Denver has always been a c...

60 Minute Cities- Denver  

I was raised in Colorado and lived in the proximity of Denver for a long time before moving to the city in 2010 / Denver has always been a c...