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Barnstorming Over Park Hill

Barnstorming, in which pilots performed loop-the-loops and acrobatic stunts like the one shown here, gained popularity during the Roaring 20s.  During the post-World War I era, flying circuses were all the rage after thousands of surplus biplanes (called Jennys) were sold at bargain prices to private owners, helping to awaken America to civil aviation. Charles Lindbergh reportedly got his start as a barnstormer, and some of the most famous daredevils were women, including Katherine Stinson and Bessie Coleman, an African-American woman who also fought segregation.

This photo of a daring air feat was sent in by Park Hill architect Marc Applebaum. The shot was taken over Treat Hall at the former Colorado Women’s College (now Johnson & Wales) marking the far southeast boundaries of Park Hill. The view is to the southwest, showing Park Hill, Montclair and Aurora beyond.” Pretty much wide-open prairie land,” noted Applebaum. “Oneida Street and Montview are evident, as well as the historic residences. St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and Stanley School can be seen at 13th and Quebec.”

Just a few years shy of 100 years later, the landscape has certainly changed dramatically – a reminder of the ramped up development that continues its onward (and upward) march. Colorado historians Stephen Leonard and Tom Noel provided additional insight. “The original Lowry Field was located near 48th and Dahlia in the 1920s. My guess is that the plane flew from there,” Leonard said. Noel says he originally got the photo from an old timer, now gone.
– Cara DeGette

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