Saturday, April 25, 2009

Downtown Denver Lower District: Then and Now

In order to make up for the low moral values exhibited in my previous posting, today I offer you views of buildings in Denver's Downtown Lower District's historical area. The original plan of the day had been to ride up towards Loveland and the Horsetooth Reservoir area but the weather did not cooperate.

I rode out of the house a bit before 08:30AM and it was heavily overcast and misting. Couple that with temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s and my enthusiasm for being on the road in those conditions diminished rapidly.

Instead, I diverted over to the Denver downtown area, exiting the I-25 slab at the Speer Boulevard South exit. My initial stop was going to be Union Station for pictures. It had been in the news recently when it was announced the nation's last ski train was ceasing business and closing its doors. It's last ride to Winter Park was 29Mar09.

On the way to Union Station, on Wynkoop Road, I spotted this great looking brownstone brick building with faded paint advertising the O'Fallon Supply Company:

The O'Fallon Supply Company, founded by Martin J. O'Fallon. An Irish immigrant who started off as a $2.50 Janitor, eight years later becoming the president/owner of the O'Fallon Plumbing Supply Company.
O'Fallon Bld, Circa 1900
DPL Call#X-22445

The O'Fallon Building above was the only one I could match up to a historical photo from the Denver Public Library. There were several other buildings built along the same architectural lines and it leads me to believe this area probably started as "warehouse row" since it was so close to Union Station.

Denver's Union Station, Circa 1914
 DPL Call #MCC-2394

Wikipedia: The original structure, Union Depot, was built in 1881 and later destroyed by fire in 1894. The second station was rebuilt in Beaux-Arts style. Each of the first two structures included clock towers. In 1914 the station's central building was demolished and rebuilt to keep up with increase traffic at the time. During its heyday, it was served by 80 daily trains operated by six different railroads. Full Article: LINK

Over at the Southern end of Wynkoop, the street deadends onto one of the last remaining iron bridges over the Platte River which flows through the heart of Denver:

That's the Pepsi Sports Center in the background

Looking back towards Union Station from the above bridge
Kind of looks like a warehouse row doesn't it?

I wandered a ways from Union Station and found myself in the parking lot of the Pepsi Sports Center. While the pictures of this sporting center did not turn out as I'd wished, the one of what used to be the Denver Dry Goods building worked out:

Denver Dry Goods, Circa 1933
DPL Call# X-24064

Wikipedia: The Denver Dry Goods Company, also known as "The Denver", was established in Denver, Colorado in 1879 by Michael. J. McNamara and L.H. Flanders as M.J. McNamara & Company and later The McNamara Dry Goods Company. Full Article: LINK

From the above location, I could see the chimney stack and tower of the Tivoli-Union Brewery located in what's now the Auraria College Campus. It remains quite the building as you can see:

Tivoli Brewery, Circa 1890, link to DPL Call# c-196
Circa 1938, link to DPL Call# chs.x9229

Wikipedia: The Tivoli Brewery is a historic landmark in the Auraria Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. It is the former home of the Tivoli Brewing Company, which took its name from the town of Tivoli in central Italy. Today, the building is home to the Tivoli Student Union of the Auraria Campus, serving as a student center for the Metropolitan State College of Denver, the University of Colorado Denver, and the Community College of Denver. Full Article: LINK

And now, for something completely different, as they say in Monty Python's Flying Circus show. Wouldn't want you to think I am totally indifferent to more modern "art".

Near the Denver Performance Arts Center

OK, enough of that!

Next up was the Daniels & Fisher tower, a Denver landmark since it was built in 1910 as part of the Daniels & Fisher Department Stores. It was modeled after the Campanile Tower in Saint Mark's Square in Venice, Italy. More info here: LINK

Daniels and Fisher Tower, Circa 1910
DPL Call# x-23066

I next wandered across the I-25 slab towards the Zuni Street area and found some more aged structures that I wanted to photograph:
Asbury Methodist-Episcopal Church
Circa 1900-1920,  DPL Call# x-25610

Here's a shot of the metal archwork bridge spanning the Platte River and on which Speer Boulevard rides.

Speer Boulevard Bridge over the Platte River
Built by Central Denver Ironworks

Nearby is this metal archway strung over a pedestrian overpass allowing folks to cross over the I-25 slab.

Wandering about still, I saw what looked like a nice old church in the distance. Its located near Denver's North High School building complex:

Saint Dominic's!
Saint Dominic's Church, circa 1984
link to DPL Call# x-25399

Coming down from Saint Dominics, my eyes were drawn to what looked like to be a giant milk container, the old fashioned kind one sees in dairy farms. Quite the cute motif for what turned out to be an ice cream stand. Here's the "Little Man Ice Cream" shop:

The Little Man Ice Cream Shop

At this point, I got on the I-25 Slab southbound intending to get home for lunch. Brigitta went into reserve tank as I rode along so I exited on the Washington Street exit. This placed me within sight of a tall tower/steeple I'd seen before while on the slab. It's apparently covered in gold leaf, or what looks like gold leaf, just like the state capitol building. Turns out its the Williams tower, part of the Ritchie Sports Center of the University of Denver.

Williams Tower at University of Denver

I tanked up nearby on Evans and as long as I was there, wandered about the university campus looking for its original buildings. The first one I found was at Observatory Park and coincidentally enough, it was the Chamberlin Observatory which apparently has been there since the late 1890s.

Chamberlin Observatory, Circa 1890
link to DPL Call# whj-1027

Wikipedia: Chamberlin Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by University of Denver. It is located in Observatory Park. It is named for Humphrey B. Chamberlin, a Denver real estate magnate who pledged $50,000 in 1888 to build and equip the facility. Full Article: LINK

Next up were the university's oldest buildings, the first being the Mary Reed Library building which is now the school's administration building I believe.

Mary Reed Library,Built in 1932 per Wikipedia, circa 1920
link to DPL Call# chs.x5186

Wikipedia: The University was founded in 1864 as Colorado Seminary by John Evans, the former Governor of the Colorado Territory, who had been appointed by President Abraham Lincoln. The 'Colorado Seminary' was founded as a Methodist institution, and struggled in the very early years of its existence. By 1880, the Colorado Seminary had been renamed the University of Denver. Full article: LINK

Next to the Mary Reed Building is the Iliff School of Theology, quite impressive as you can see:

 Iliff School of Theology, Circa 1892
link to DPL Call# c-183

Wikipedia: Iliff was originally founded in 1889 by as a seminary and school of religious studies of the University of Denver. In 1892, it was named the Iliff School of Theology after John Wesley Iliff (1831-1878) who had wanted to establish a school for training ministers in the territory of Colorado. Full Article: LINK

OK then, at this point it was time again to resume my way back home. I found my way back to the I-25 slab after a few minutes and got home by 12:30 PM. My loving wife had lunch ready and it was a nice end to about 4 hrs of slow meandering the SE portion of the Denver downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. 76 miles was all that I covered today, still, quite enjoyable despite the gloomy weather.


Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

You certainly covered a lot of ground on this ride. I love it when old buildings, especially those of some architectural significance, find their way into a modern city-scape as vital structures.

Denver is as city with a lot of character, and ir is apparent in its structures. Isn't it amazing what businesses built into their structures to represent their "presence" in a community. No one can afford tha anymore.

Thanks for a good read this morning.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Fondest regards,

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