Park Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Denver Neighborhood

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Park Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Denver Neighborhood
Series Title:
Park Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Denver Neighborhood
Hansen, Bill
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Park Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Denver Neighborhood | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:32:44 AM] Home Park Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Denver NeighborhoodPark Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Denver NeighborhoodSubmitted by nwharton on 2-23-2013 04:48 PMAuthor: Phil Goodstein Publishing: New Social Publications, 2012, 598 pages, black and white photographs, bibliography, address index, general index. Reviewer: Bill Hansen Park Hills rich and complex history, and its role in Denvers urban development, has been largely overlooked by Denver historians until recently. Neighborhood historian and activist Art Branscombe confined his extensive writings on Park Hills stormy integration efforts to the local newspaper, Greater Park Hill News and never attained his dream of publishing a definitive history of Greater Park Hill before his unfortunate death in 2012. Tom Noels and Bill Hansens The Park Hill Neighborhood (Historic Denver Guides, 2002, 2012 reprint) focused on the architecture and luminaries of what is now considered Old Park Hill, but the booklet format prevented any in-depth coverage of Greater Park Hill and its social and political history. Rebecca Dorwards disappointing and error-laden photographic history, Denvers Park Hill Neighborhood (Arcadia Publishing, 2010), was hardly worth the purchase price (see review by Jill Fieger). Finally, widely published Denver historian Phil Goodstein takes on this complicated, yet important, part of Denvers social history with his Park Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Neighborhood. Aided by access to the massive research files of the Branscombes and the archives of the various groups that fought this battle, Goodstein combines his own extensive research and detailed writing style to create a most commendable 598-page work. Having grown up in Park Hill, and specializing in American urban development, his coverage of the efforts to create an idyllic neighborhood in Greater Park Hill is exceptional. Citing numerous sources, Goodstein exhaustively describes this quest, including the combined cooperative efforts of neighborhood activists, local churches, various action committees, and ever-evolving neighborhood associations. Goodstein also explores the prolonged litigation and controversial court-ordered busing, which eventually landed in the United States Supreme Court. Centered on efforts to integrate Park Hills public schools, busing became a citywide issue, inspiring many parents with children to flee to suburban school districts. Goodstein examines the roles of racial prejudice, greedy realtors, restrictive bank lending practices, block busting, bombings, and fear-mongering prompting white flight and the ill-founded dread of a potential transformation of Park Hill into Dark Hill. These chapters make Goodsteins book a must read for all those interested in that era of Denvers civil rights efforts. Also commendable is Goodsteins confrontation with the realities of this search for an idyllic neighborhood. Goodstein points out that, since its formation in 1970, Greater Park Hill Community, Inc., extols itself as the largest, longest-existing, and most stable multiracial community in Denver, and claims to be the idyll EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanThe Ute people have lived in Colorado longer than anyone else.


Park Hill Promise: The Quest for an Idyllic Denver Neighborhood | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:32:44 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us of an affluent, flourishing integrated community. Despite such claims, Goodstein emphasizes that there remains a stark gray racial divide roughly running along Twenty-sixth Avenue separating not only the races but socioeconomic classes, crime, commercial development, and city beautification efforts. This is perhaps why Goodstein admits in the preface that I never identified with the area and I feared that I did not have proper sympathy for the area (1). He also admits to considering alternative titles such as Park Hill Paradox and the more sardonic Park Hill Pollyannas. Goodstein addresses such social issues with his usual cynical, and sometimes even disdainful, approach to Denver history and those who shaped it. Unfortunately, once Goodstein leaves this overall theme, developed in the first few chapters, and ventures into particular neighborhoods, the work becomes almost overwhelmingly ponderous and pedantic. Park Hillers will be lured to particular areas by Goodsteins separate index by street address, but once so enticed, they are met with a disappointing and endless litany of names, dates, addresses, and meaningless minutiae seemingly lifted raw from library note cards of census data, city directories, social registers, and obituaries. There was little effort to interact with the old-time residents who are often eager to regale researchers with their experiences and local knowledge. There is also a disappointing lack of archival photographs, colorful and florid contemporary quotations, and descriptions of the often spectacular architecture. The many photographs are primarily recent and largely nondescript. Goodstein is a gifted storyteller, as anyone who has been entertained on his many walking tours will attest. However, this style of encyclopedic writing is often devoid of such human interest. So, does Phil Goodstein deliver on Park Hill Promise ? This reviewer would give it a resounding yes with a qualified no. Goodsteins series of books on Denver, generally, and Denvers neighborhoods, specifically, are always an outstanding addition to the regions scholarship, and this book is no exception. Reviewer Info: Bill Hansen is a Denver trial lawyer who has been researching east Denver history since purchasing his 1890 Victorian home in the Montclair Historic District. After writing an extensive history on the Molkery, or Montclair Civic Building, in Montclair Park, he helped spearhead its renovation. This led to collaboration with Tom Noel on two Historic Denver Guides, The Monclair Neighborhood (1999) and The Park Hill Neighborhood (2002). He has given walking tours and lectures on these areas and has also written articles for the Historic Denver News the Montclairion and other publications.