By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver is constantly changing, but if you know where to look you can see the remnants of the city’s past.

“There’s a very long history here,” said Lucha Martinez de Luna, Associate Curator of Latino Heritage at History Colorado.

Lucha Martinez de Luna (credit: CBS)

Her father painted murals in Denver’s La Alma and Auraria Neighborhood, which is now the site of Auraria Campus. A few murals remain from 60 years ago when it was a very different place.

“It was a huge community and there was a lot of families that were from the San Luis Valley, Southern Colorado that really have a history here from before it was Denver, before it was Colorado. When it was the Spanish empire,” said Lucha.

It was home to the largest Mexicano, Hispano and Chicano neighborhood in the state, but the city wanted the land for development and pushed the residents out. Lucha says the residents didn’t go down without a fight.

(credit: CBS)

“They fought very hard, they resisted but the city just didn’t listen,” Lucha explained.

This story of the Auraria and La Alma neighborhood is just one from History Colorado’s new “Building Denver: Visions of the Capital City” exhibit, which explores the growth, urban development, and architecture of Denver from 1860 to today. The Auraria/La Alma section shows visitors the price some of Colorado’s oldest families paid in the name of progress.

(credit: CBS)

“This basically focuses on the redlining that was going on in Denver and the displacement,” she said.

Lucha Martinez de Luna says it’s a price some families continue to pay thanks to gentrification.

“This is still a pattern that continues to plague us,” Lucha said.

She says that’s why it’s important for Coloradans to come see not just the Auraria portion but the whole “Building Denver” exhibit.

“So our decedents can hear about these stories and read about them and they won’t forget,” she said.

Michael Abeyta