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Colorado Springs celebrates 150 years with 'then and now' photo exhibit

Colorado Springs celebrates 150 years with 'then and now' photo exhibit
Posted at 7:10 PM, Jul 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 08:18:19-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A trip back in time is coming to life at a local library. It's to celebrate Colorado Springs's history and the city's founding 150 years ago.

A photo exhibit called 'Then and Now' will open to the public on Thursday evening at Library 21C. There are 50 pairs of photos in the exhibit, and each one of the photos is all about teaching the community the history in the area we live in, and sharing how far the city has come since the late 1800s.

Mike Pach, the Colorado Springs photographer in charge of the project said the exhibit, "is the culmination of two years worth of work, and I am equating it to getting my masters degree."

Pach worked with the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and the Pikes Peak Library District to collect the old photos, and as he was searching for pictures he said there were a couple of dozen that stuck out more than others.

"I was most interested in photos that included people because I wanted to know their stories, I wanted to know what they were all about," said Pach. "So I made the decision to use a lot of those photos and then pair those with my own images of people that are doing great things in our community. I think that's one of the things that makes this project unique because these people are part of our history moving forward."

Each pair of photos has a description of the 'then and now' information, plus a QR code that people can scan, which links to Pach's website. On the website, there are photographer notes and journal entries for each of the photos taken.

The oldest photo is from 1871, which is the first survey stake being placed by General Robert Alexander Cameron. There is also a photo of the first vehicle on top of Pikes Peak from 1890.

Pach owns 3 Peaks Photography, and said despite the challenges the pandemic brought, he was able to focus solely on the project and make it his full-time job.

"I lost most of my business because of COVID, and the silver lining is that I had the time to commit to this," said Pach. "I don't think the project would have turned out so well if I was busy like I was in the past."

Because of the pandemic, however, he faced a few challenges along the way. Some photo shoots he had planned with community members had to be postponed or canceled. Some locations he couldn't get access to because of the pandemic shutdown. As a backup, he photographed monuments and buildings in Colorado Springs. so he'd have a backup plan if his initial ideas fell through.

"I hope people learn about our rich history. When I first decided to do this project, I thought, 'how much could there be in 150 years?'" said Pach. "I learned a lot about a lot of things, and I still don't consider myself a historian, but someone told me I will be by the time we're finished here."

Pach told News5 about one of the photos. He said he went to "Hooked on Books," a business in downtown Colorado Springs, and he met the owner.

"She explained to me that the building that they're in is actually our very first library which is shown in the photo," said Pach. "Since they're doing a really cool thing in our community being an independent bookseller, I decided to feature them in the project."

Pach said there are a few goals he had in mind when creating the exhibit.

"One of the main goals of the project is to also show the diversity that we have here in Colorado Springs, which wasn't recorded very much in the past," said Pach. "Another important aspect for me is that I have now etched myself into the history of Colorado Springs by creating my set of photographs. Eventually, my collection will be donated, so hopefully, somebody who decided to do a similar project many years from now will look at my collections and use some of those images as well."

The opening reception for the 'Then and Now' exhibit taking is taking place on Thursday evening from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m at Library 21C. It's open to the public. The photos will be on display on display at Library 21C for two months, before getting moved to other local libraries in the Pikes Peak Region for the following six to 12 months.

Pach said he's also encouraging people to keep records of their photographic collections, hand them down to family members, or donate them to an organization with an archives section.