If you ever imagined your life as art, here’s a chance to prove it: The City of Colorado Springs is offering the public an opportunity to share their own “Then & Now” photographs in celebration of this year’s 150th anniversary.

The invitation is open to residents, visitors, businesses and organizations. The purpose is to share old photos alongside new or comparable views of buildings, neighborhoods, parks, scenery, events, people, or anything else that depicts changes and progress within the Colorado Springs community.

According to Jen Schreuder, Communications Specialist for the City of Colorado Springs, submissions do not have to be professional photographs. There are no specific outlines to follow — just a comparison of the old and the new.

Schreuder encourages participants to have some fun and get involved in the yearlong sesquicentennial. Any time period can be depicted, and there is no limit on the amount of time between the then and now photographs.

The idea for the Then & Now Photo Challenge originated with Michael Pach’s “Then and Now Historic Photos” project that is part of the sesquicentennial. As Pach explains his work, his photographs are a “replication or reflection” of historic photos, not a duplication. Starting July 8, Pach’s “Then and Now” project will be displayed for two months at Library 21C, 1175 Chapel Hills Drive, and then at various locations throughout Colorado Springs for 6-12 months.

Participants in the Photo Challenge are asked to share their photo-duos on social media including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with a hashtag #COS150 or @CityofCOS until the end of the summer. Some of these then and now photos may already exist, perhaps in personal albums or business files. In other cases, a treasured photo from the past can be represented in a comparison to the present day.

Photographs represent a brief moment in time that is saved for posterity. What is represented is not only what a place or person looked like at that particular time, but what led up to the snapshot; how it came to be, the emotional content, and lasting feelings that are evoked by viewing it. The depictions can be comparisons that will not only bring knowing smiles and understanding, but a glimpse of what is to come.

“Everyone appreciates and enjoys a before and after comparison, said Dana Schield, public communications specialist for the Colorado Springs Airport. Shield submitted aerial photographs of the airport taken in 1927 and 2019.

Then and now photos of the Colorado Springs Day Nursery, 104 E. Rio Grande St., show the building as it looked in 1922, when it was new, compared to how it looks today. Of note, according to Diane Price, CEO of Early Connections Learning Centers, is how this nonprofit has stood the test of time. In 1922 and still today, The Day Nursery supports children and families of the community who are impacted by family health, employment, and financial issues. Children of working class families have benefited for the past 100 years in this community haven of care and support. “Things don’t change that much,” says Price.

Attending the annual Labor Day Balloon Lift Off has been an ongoing tradition for Julie Smith, lead digital communications specialist for the City of Colorado Springs, who chose to feature that popular event in her submission. Since childhood, Smith and family members have never missed the opportunity to make special memories together at the event. When looking back at photographs with towering balloons rising up in the background, Smith and her family reminisce about these good times, being together and laughing about the changing hairstyles and clothing.

The Colorado Springs Sesquicentennial website, coloradosprings.gov/COS150, provides details the Then and Now Photo Challenge. It also lists upcoming events that will celebrate the milestone, such as the Sesquicentennial Gala on July 17, and the Downtown Festival on July 31.

As Mayor John Suthers notes: “We’re going to party like it’s 1871!”

And as former community leader, Fannie Mae Duncan, exclaimed: “Everybody’s welcome!”

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