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Work begins on new mural honoring Denver's Chinese immigrants

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DENVER — Nalye Lor is an illustrator at heart, but lately she’s been feeling like a world-famous soccer star.

“Everyone’s cheering me on, and … I don’t think there’s a way to describe that feeling of having so many people wanting to see you win,” she said. “Like everyone’s watching me on TV and they’re like ‘Yeah, you go! You finish that mural!’”

In October of last year, Colorado Asian Pacific United (CAPU) announced it had selected Lor to paint a mural on the side of Denver Fire Station 4, located at 1890 Lawrence St. in downtown Denver.

On Sunday, April 2, Lor and a group of volunteers made the first marks on the wall by priming the side of the fire station. The mural will celebrate the Chinese immigrant community in Colorado — both past and present.

Colorado Voices

New mural honors Denver's Chinese immigrants

“It was important to us as a city to use a mural to document the history of our community here and art of that history is the Chinatown history,” said Armando Saldate, the executive director of the Denver Department of Public Safety. Saldate was at the painting event Sunday.

For many years, one of the most well-known acknowledgments of Denver’s historic Chinatown was a plaque located at the intersection of 20th and Blake, near Coors Field. However, the plaque, a historical marker about the 1880 anti-Chinese race riot, was problematic in a number of ways: The plaque presented an incomplete and offensive re-telling of the riot; it white-washed history by not naming any of the Chinese victims; it called the violent attack a “Chinese riot” even though white people were the aggressors; and it perpetuated harmful stereotypes about drug use among Chinese immigrants.

The plaque was finally removed in August of 2022.

Lor’s mural presents an opportunity for Denver to reset and honor the city’s history in a way that is accurate and celebratory. The vibrant artwork will depict an “endless noodle” that traces the history of Chinese immigrants in America. It starts with railroad workers and ends in the modern day.

“The image really displays the history and the past with railroad workers, as well as the future generations that will be here,” Lor explained.

The noodle is a long-life noodle, or longevity noodle, that many people from China eat with the hopes of having a long life, Lor said in a previous interview with Rocky Mountain PBS.

“We really hope that this serves as a tool for people to learn that history and really appreciate the multicultural community that we have,” Saldate added.

Julio Sandoval is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at

Kyle Cooke is the digital media manager at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at

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