Sunday, December 25, 2011

300 Posts!

What started four years ago as a rant against the way that the Longmont Ice Pavilion was abruptly shut down (see footnote) has somehow gone 299 posts longer.  Ironically, I've stayed away from any other political commentary since then.  At first, I had no idea where this blog would be going, if anywhere.  Among other things, I did a movie review and got annoyed at a conference where the two people next to me were typing too loudly for me to hear the presenters.  But I also covered some Longmont history subjects which led to the mostly converged nature of this blog today, that is, touching on topics about the area where I live. 

Like many of you, I often pass by ordinary places, scenes, buildings, and people in Longmont and Boulder County and wonder how they will be perceived in ten or fifty years, especially with the rapid changes that seem to be happening.  On the other hand, the same scenes make me think about life in Longmont 20, 50, or 130 years ago.  Capturing some of  this with a few pictures and some hack amateur history sleuthing has been rewarding and fun.  And, it's taken me to many cemeteries, libraries, dusty country roads, museums, court houses, railroad beds, and shuttered sugar beet factory sites.

I've met some great people via postings I've made here, many that are much more knowledgeable than me about the subject on hand.  The awesome railroad history community is one such group which  is important because the railroad  is a crucial piece of Longmont history.  Thanks especially to Ron!  I hear from folks that moved away from Longmont that enjoy seeing pictures of how their town looks today and also the incoming ones, that is, those considering a move here.  Sometimes a reader like Laura will even provide a lead to a good story!

I've mostly stayed away from first-person subjects here but if you've been a reader here for a while, you can probably figure out that I like bicycles, live music, history, gardening, running, parades and community celebrations, bird watching, downtowns, volunteering, and the outdoors.  I am a technologist in the daytime but intentionally, perhaps as an escape from that world, tech subjects are mostly absent here.   

What's changed in Longmont in the last four years?  The economic woes have hit the Twin Peaks Mall hard, and we also lost Borders, Pier 1, Kmart, and Albertsons.  We did get a Lowes, a Best Buy, and the Harvest Junction area along with the Martin Street extension that provided better access to this area.  Two long-standing Longmont facilities are gone:  the turkey processing business on south Main Street and the Flour Mill.  Live music was practically extinct in Longmont four years ago but thankfully the venues are more plentiful these days, with the welcome additions of Oskar Blues, the Bertolin Barn, and the Dickens Opera House.  The craft beer industry is a lot stronger; both local breweries seem to be always expanding and their brands are nationally known now.  High-tech employment opportunities are still here, some of this driven by Longmont's center-of-excellence status in the computer storage industry.  Intel, for example, has established a facility here now.  The St. Vrain Greenway had a major expansion to the east in the last four years, with much of it chronicled in various postings here.  It's a smash hit judging by how many people I see out there, of all ages.   And just this year, we got the beginnings of a trail to Boulder.  The City's Fourth Avenue Friday night concerts in the summer seem to be a winner compared to a few years ago when concerts were staged in different parks around town.  And the Roosevelt Park Holiday celebration has been introduced and seems destined to be an annual tradition.  Last but not least, what about Downtown Longmont?  I sense a gradual improvement from 2007 but it doesn't feel yet like we've turned the corner.

A few of the most-read stories in here, going by the hit-o-meter:
  • The case of the mystery Longmont Librarian, Genevieve Dorsett in the 1920's.  Somehow this article got widely distributed among genealogy sites.
  • The article about Longmont being featured in a 1948 magazine article.  Someone posted this on Facebook and it took off!
  • Two series of pictures on fires:  one of the Longmont Flour Mill burning in 2009 and the Boulder Canyon fire of 2010.  For the Boulder fire, getting the story quickly posted got me high up in Google searches for a while, and they were coming in from all over the world. 
  • The sugar beet factory series still brings in steady traffic despite (gulp) it not being updated in a year!  Yes, I am going to finish it before winter is over. 
I have to thank the Google blogging platform for giving me this space.  Back in 2007, I thought it wouldn't take much time for me to use up the allotted photo storage space for this site, and that I would eventually have to abandon it after it filled up.   Thousands of posted pictures later, I've never hit such a quota and don't even know if there is one now. 

On to post #500.  Thanks for reading!

* The Ice Pavillion saga actually had a happy ending  and is thriving today.  Some community involvement and a generous donation  bootstrapped the facility for a year or two until it was able to turn profitable and fund itself.  I found the incoming 2007 Council to be confusing and paralyzed but I did agree with their immediate motion to investigate alternative ways to keep the rink going which led to a 2007-2008 season of skating after all.   I understood the budget urgency at the time but I think the community was devalued by not exploring alternatives four months earlier in the middle of summer, and instead just closing it suddenly on a Tuesday night in October. 

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