Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Community Activist - Sarah Wolf

“The highways ruined Globeville,” Sarah Wolf explained.“Before the highways, Globeville was the best place in the world. We had people from all over the world - Austrians, Swedes, Germans, Russians, Polacks, Irish and one black family - and we all got along.” 
For years, rumors about construction of interstate highways were whispered and debated. In 1950, the Valley Highway (I-25) sliced off the western edge of the neighborhood, and in 1960 work began on I-70, the east-west thoroughfare that cut through the heart of the community. Battling the Valley Highway led to Sarahs first experience fighting the city.  
“We had meetings at St. Jacobs Hall, at churches, businesses and at city hall. When its your home, you have to stand up. The neighbors even hired lawyers, but the decision to build the freeways through Globeville had been made long ago. Construction began and many long-time residents moved away. Not Sarah Wolf. I was born in this house. 
The house was built by her father, John Wolf. Sarah had a faraway look in her eyes.“My dad worked for the Globe Smelter for a dollar a day, using a wheelbarrow to move ore around. He worked nights, and during the day, he built this house. As soon as he saved a little money, he sent for other family members from the old country. My dads family and my mothers family were all here and we all lived on Leaf Court.
“When they were in Russia, they had no say about their lives and had to answer to the czar. In this country, my dad, a poor immigrant, was elected a trustee of Globeville. He really liked having a say in making his town a good place to live. 
Sarah inherited her fathers pride in his community as well as his talent for organizing. When plans to enlarge the Mousetrap were revealed in the mid 1970s, ramps to the neighborhood had been eliminated. Sarahs voice rose. Globeville would be cut off. There would be no access for the people who live here, fire trucks and ambulances would take longer to answer calls, and trucks would have to go through the neighborhood to get to their plants. 
We held meetings at the churches, the lodges and the Globeville Civic Association. I persuaded the presidents of Noble Sysco and Anheuser Busch to write letters, and I got Councilmen Eugene DiManna and State Representative Ted Bendelow involved.” 
The letters and meetings paid off.
A bridge at 48th Avenue to the Pecos Street interchange was built and dedicated on August 30, 1978. Shortly after the bridge opened, Sarahs neighbors petitioned the city to have the bridge named in her honor. In 1988, their wish was granted by Mayor Federico Peña. A bronze plaque that read Sarahs Bridgewas embedded in the base on the east side. The plaque represents much of what Sarah believed: that in America, an immigrant can make good, that persistence can prevail, and that the city government can be held accountable to all its citizens.   

The family of John Wolf about 1914.
Front row, left to right, Grandfather Peter Wolf, David,
John Wolf Sr., Sarah, Ann Marie (nee Kilthau).
Standing, left to right, Christine, Katherine, Adam, John and Hulda.
Used with written permission from Sarah Wolf.

Dedication ceremony, August 30, 1978
Left to right,
Councilman Larry Perry, Councilman Sal Carpio,
Sarah Wolf and
Manager of Public Works Harold Cook,

Used with written permission from Sarah Wolf.