Thanks to Harley-Davidson, Pueblo and some of its iconic architecture have gone global.
Each year, when preparing to showcase the latest models of motorcycles via its catalog and website, the legendary Milwaukee-based manufacturer searches for locations based on several criteria.
"We want backgrounds that fit the person and style of each motorcycle," said Jennifer Hoyer, a public relations specialist for H-D. "And we want places our riders would enjoy riding, in gorgeous weather suited for it."
In the eyes of the executives, Pueblo more than fit that eye-catching bill.
For the powerful Heritage Classic, a section of Grand Avenue near Union Avenue — with the Vail Hotel, Memorial Hall and the Senate Bar in the background — was selected. And the sleek Sport Glide is parked at the top of the Union Avenue Bridge on West Corona Avenue, The Union Depot its historic cushion.
Hoyer said Midwest Fabrication and Steel, Excel Road and Third and Elizabeth Streets also served as settings.
Gregory Howell, a Pueblo creative consultant and storyteller, just happened to be at Watertower Place when a Southern California-based scout was giving the building a once-over.
“Having grown up in Southern California and meeting the location scouts for film and TV, I know what it takes to hunt down the right location for shooting,” Howell said. “When I met the scout, of course I wanted to know how he came to know Pueblo and, as usual, it was driven by his own research and eye for things industrial and historical.
“He knew about the steel mill, but after arriving kept seeing large industrial and commercial spaces dotting the landscape.”
Howell said the scout first contacted the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media. While helpful, the Denver-based office “did not have the knowledge nor the nuance of understanding the rich industrial legacy of Pueblo. You have to fall into Pueblo's messiness in order to come out with a skillset that enables you to curate the history, culture and arts of Pueblo in a fresh and new way.”
The scout told Howell that he hadn't contacted any representatives of local government, "but did make the necessary arrangements with local police to shoot on public streets Downtown."
Harley-Davidson’s selection of Pueblo as a location is, in Howell’s eyes, a sign that the city’s rich history, as reflected in its architecture, “Can be a smart and sustainable driver for economic development, when you consider the number of historic structures that dot our landscape.”
Through research, Howell learned that Pueblo does not have representation at the regional and state film offices, even though “we are loaded with top film and TV professionals from around the country, as well as overseas. With this amazing depth of experience, a small group of advocates have formed a working group to explore the creation of the Pueblo Film Commission.”
With a core membership of 15, Howell said an initial meeting will be held to unveil a strategy and mission.“We plan to formalize the organization and structure in the coming six months,” he explained.
The motorcycle catalog, Howell believes, could be the start of putting Pueblo on a much larger and well-viewed map.
“This whole story clearly shows how robust, engaging and powerful Pueblo storytelling is when you are authentic, genuine and understood,” Howell said. “I find that Pueblo is its own worst storyteller. Thank goodness, we have some of the very best archives in the world right here in our community, as well as wonderful assets that dot almost every corner of town.”
Hoyer said the catalog and website, while advertising the latest models and specifications, also serve another purpose.
"The catalog is global and currently translated into more than 22 languages worldwide," she said. "It is offered in printed form in many countries — about 420,000 total printed copies globally — and offered electronically everywhere Harley-Davidson motorcycles are sold.
"Every year, people call H-D customer service asking where the photos were taken so they can plan trips to those locations, and we tell them."
A digital version of the catalog is available at harley-davidson.com.