Manny Salzman and his bridge light up LoDo

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In 1980, Manny Salzman and his wife, Joanne, moved to LoDo from Hilltop before lower downtown had even been nicknamed LoDo, much less turned into a hot entertainment/residential area. They took over a four-story warehouse on Wynkoop Street, turning the 3,500 top-floor space into their home and even installing a rooftop bathtub where Manny, the former Denver General Hospital chief of radiology, could soak and look over the city and the mountains to the west. But that was during his rare moments of repose; you usually could find him walking the neighborhood or pedaling his bike, as he still does daily at age 95.

Like LoDo itself, Manny Salzman is a landmark in this city.

And he's responsible for many of the landmarks avoiding the wrecking ball. The Salzmans were instrumental in lower downtown becoming a historic area, and in forming the St. Charles Neighborhood Group, which commemorated the pioneers who founded this town not far from where the Salzmans lived.

In the mid-'90s, they worked with the city to get a grant to save old railroad bridges across Cherry Creek and turn them into pedestrian paths. In 2006, then-Mayor John Hickenlooper, another LoDo pioneer, named the bridge over the creek at Wynkoop "Manny's Bridge," with a plaque honoring Salzman's hard work.

Last night, Manny and his bridge were celebrated during a party at the Wynkoop Brewing Co. -- which moved into the neighborhood eight years behind the Salzmans. And it wasn't just the guests who got lit: Manny's Bridge, which was chosen as the original location of LoDo Lights, an art project that coincided with the 150th anniversary of Denver, has just gotten an upgrade.

Artist Virginia Folkestad again worked on the interactive installation, "Current 39cubed," which was completed last week in time for Salzman's 95th birthday.

"This is not holiday lighting...it's light art," says Diane Huntress, who planned the project and the party. "It just happens to be coming on now."

And it will stay on, like Manny Salzman himself, illuminating the city.

More from the Calhoun: Wake Up Call archive: "A century and a half later, the wounds of Sand Creek are still fresh."

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