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Photos: Gates Rubber factory -- urban explorers' dream or urban nightmare?

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This week's feature, "Trouble in the Rubble," looks into the controversies triggered by student Eugene Elliott's effort to save what's left of the Gates Rubber Company complex on South Broadway from demolition by filing for landmark preservation status. Response to the story has been sharply divided, with some readers denouncing the site as an eyesore and toxic wasteland, while others contend that some way should be found to repurpose the remaining buildings, which have stood idle now for two decades.

There may be no consensus about what to do with the place, but one thing's clear. The plant evokes strong feelings -- and, in some cases, strong memories -- about Denver history and the company's place in it.

How you feel about tearing down what's left of the plant -- chiefly the warehouse, main factory, and a power plant -- probably has something to do with how you perceive the Gates legacy. And, as these photos suggest, that legacy is a messy one. It's about globalization and the long-term environmental consequences of heavy industry; about the little-told story of Denver's blue-collar workers and their contribution to the city's growth; about nostalgia for a time when America made something besides Big Macs; and also about urban blight, the financial meltdown that's kept the property in limbo for years, and the weird remnants left behind when a thriving manufacturing operation turns into a ghost town. Page down to see more photos inside and outside the Gates Rubber factory. Page down to see more photos inside and outside the Gates Rubber factory. Page down to see more photos inside and outside the Gates Rubber factory. For more images inside the ruins, see our slideshow of Gates photos.

More from our Environment archive: "Gates factory: Urban explorers still eager to prowl abandoned plant."

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