Burnis McCloud’s Neighborhood: Revisiting Denver’s Five Points Community, 1940-2020

Authors: William Wyckoff*, Montana State University
Topics: Landscape, Historical Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Denver, urban landscape, African-American community, repeat photography, American West
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper assesses the visual legacy of Burnis McCloud, who was an important post World War-II photographer in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. As a long-standing member of Denver’s African-American community, McCloud became a commercial photographer who recorded hundreds of special occasions, events, social gatherings, and civil-rights meetings. He made thousands of images of Denver’s Five Points community, including many landscape-scale photographs of churches, schools, businesses, apartment buildings, and streetscapes. He captured these images as Denver’s inner city and nearby suburbs were rapidly changing. By examining McCloud’s personal and business records and by exploring his rich collection of Denver images, I summarize McCloud’s contribution to our understanding of the city’s social geography. I also offer a preliminary report on a larger repeat photography project that revisits many of McCloud’s urban settings and assesses changes on the urban landscape which have shaped these localities over the past 45-80 years.

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