We're driving east on Woodmen Road to St. Francis Medical Center.  Nearing Powers Boulevard, I gaze to the south, mesmerized by the array of structures clinging to the landscape.  They march for miles, a sea of rooftops, rising up and down following the countours of the land.  No trees, no scrub bushes or vegetation, no rock formations, just thousands of tightly clustered homes disappearing into the horizon.  Acres stretching to Kansas with houses on postage stamps fighting for elbow room.

      In the 1960s, folk singer Pete Seeger made famous "Little Boxes" (originally written outside San Francisco) satirizing suburban developments:

     Little boxes on the hillside,

     Little boxes made of ticky tacky,

     Little boxes on the hillside,

     Little boxes all the same.

     There's a green one and a pink one

     And a blue one and a yellow one,

     And they're all made out of ticky tacky

     And they all look just the same.

     As GIs returned from World War II, they needed affordable mortgages.  Contractors buying large parcels outside the city and building from four or five basic plans was a new phenomenon.  We saw it as a sign of the times, not something we'd endure into another century.

      Since 1964, I've watched the Colorado Springs area mushroom from 100,000 residents to 600,000, and I struggle to accept the sprawl that surrounds my beloved city.  Up close, many newer homes are far from "ticky tacky"--they're spacious and comfortably designed.  I understand the realities of cheap land, and a moderately priced home in which to raise a family, so I live with it, but I'm sad children grow up on streets where they never see downtown--the Pioneers Museum, Uncle Wilbur's Fountain, or the Fine Arts Center.  I wonder how many have hiked in Garden of the Gods Park.  They're surrounded by the same fast food restaurants and retailers that serve people everywhere.  Does anyone teach them about the unique history of Colorado Springs?

     I hope our newer homeowners feel a sense of community with the rest of us.  Swept up in the furor of jobs, parenting and survival, there's no time to reflect on older sections of town.  Why would they want to settle for an established neighborhood, when they can enjoy the amenities of "new" at a better price?  Tract housing defined our city's prosperity, providing jobs in construction, real estate, and even furniture sales.

     Later, as we return home heading west, I'm comforted by a sweeping view of Pikes Peak flanked by Cheyenne Mountain and the Rampart Range--breathtaking, as the sun slips across the sky.  I spot Mount Rosa, Almagre Mountain and Cameron's Cone.  Suddenly I realize that Pikes Peak, in its changing granderur, unites us.  We celebrate Katherine Lee Bates and "America the Beautiful," knowing the realities of urban sprawl can't compromise our powerful vistas.  No matter our local neighborhood, when we see America's Mountain on the horizon, we are one. 

 

  Caroline Vulgamore

 

 

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Comment by Katy Booth on March 23, 2011 at 3:05pm
Very true, Caroline. Thanks for posting.

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