The city council in the Denver suburb of Cherry Hills Village voted unanimously Tuesday evening to drop the name “Swastika Acres” from a subdivision, according to local news reports.
“I think it’s important for our community to bring some closure to this issue,” councilman Dan Sheldon told The Denver Post. “The community has cried out for this to be changed.”
According to The Denver Post, the name originated from the Denver Land Swastika Company, which first developed the area in 1908, years before the Nazis re-appropriated the symbol, giving it its now-universally nefarious connotation.
Now known as Old Cherry Hills, the subdivision’s old name is hardly used anymore — though occasionally appearing in real estate documents and listings, taking new homeowners by surprise.
While there had been broad agreement to change the name, years of bureaucracy prevented local officials from officially doing so, according to local news affiliate KDVR.
Officials initially required 100 percent of property owners to approve the name change, but in 2017, adopted a new ordinance changing the requirement to 51 percent.
Sheldon, a real estate developer who noticed the name in documents, spearheaded the new ordinance, The Denver Post reported in January.
The ordinance required homeowners in the neighborhood to file the name change application, and then get 30 of the 57 lot owners to sign a petition authorizing the change.
At least one community member opposed changing the name, saying that as a descendant of Holocaust survivors, she wanted people to remember its dark history, comparing the name’s erasure to Holocaust denial.
“I don’t think you should erase history,” Susan Cooper told The Denver Post. “What would it be like if people denied the Holocaust? You have to get the facts of history.”
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, for thousands of years before the Nazis co-opted the symbol — whose name comes from the Sanskrit word “svastika,” meaning “good fortune” or “well-being” — it was a common and benign symbol for cultures around the world, including some Native American tribes in the Southwest, who consider it a symbol of the sun and longevity.
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