Wow ~ The Denver City and County Building covered in lights ~ a beautiful sight with a fascinating story behind it, beginning with Denver's claim to be the place of origin for the Christmas tradition of colored electric light bulbs.
At Christmastime in Denver, in 1914, 10 year old David Jonathan Sturgeon lay sick in bed, too ill to even go down the stairs to join his family around the tree for what the doctor said would be his last Christmas. His grandfather, David Dwight Sturgeon, a pioneer electrician, undertook to cheer up his grandson by dipping some electric light bulbs in green and red paint and wiring them up into the tree by the boy's window. Word spread of this wonder, and night after night, people came from all over town by horse and carriage to marvel at the wonder of an outdoor, lighted Christmas tree. Next year, his neighbors followed his lead, and the rest is history.
Five years later, in 1919, John Malpiede, Denver's lone city electrician, surprised everyone by switching the white lights around Civic Center with red and green ones. Public enthusiasm for his efforts was so great that by the time he retired in 1956, his idea had mushroomed into an extravaganza featuring some 25,000 bulbs, 17 miles of wiring, and tons of evergreen boughs decorating Civic Center. In 1945, NBC broadcast a tribute to Denver and the Sturgeon family for having created a beautiful holiday tradition.
Today, this display is renowned as the largest of its kind in the world, and draws some 600,000 people each season to drive through Civic Center and take in the spectacle. The old style bulbs have been replaced with energy efficient LED bulbs, and despite some controversy, the "Merry Christmas" sign and the Nativity scene are still in place. The crèche is enclosed in a glass box, to prevent pranksters from stealing the figurines, and Santa's workshop has been replaced by country western music elves.
Our Digital Collections contain all kinds of Christmas and holiday related photographs ~ this search for "Christmas Decorations" produces 264 images, and there are many other great pictures to be found with a little searching. Here is a great guide to Denver Metro Christmas Light Viewing, to find out where else to go on the Front Range to see spectacular midwinter light displays.
"Wow Photo Wednesday" celebrates photographs in the Denver Public Library's Digital Collections that have "The Wow Factor" and that highlight the myriad delightful nuggets in our database.