Law is what we do and a part of who we are, but our lives are fully immersed in the people, places and perspectives that create Denver’s identity. Deeply entwined with our legal practice is our love of place. This is our opportunity to share our personal insights.
Have you ever wondered why small commercial pockets containing some of Denver’s most popular restaurants and shops are located in the middle of otherwise quiet urban neighborhoods? These are the miniature commercial districts such as South Pearl Street in the Platt Park neighborhood, Tennyson Street in the Highlands, and South Gaylord Street in the East Wash Park neighborhood. As a resident of Congress Park who frequently walks to restaurants and stores, I sure did. It turns out, much thanks is owed to the old streetcar lines that used to connect Denver’s urban neighborhoods to downtown from the 1880s through the 1940s.
Below is a map of the streetcar routes linking Denver’s neighborhoods to downtown in 1917.
These streetcar lines are gone today, but evidence of their existence is still visible in the form of commercial strips lining arterials and within many of Denver’s urban neighborhoods. Originally, these small commercial strips capitalized on the foot traffic generated by the streetcar. As a result, Denver’s urban neighborhoods had their own commercial centers that were within walking distance from hundreds of households. The city planning department calls this “transit-oriented development.” Today, the walkability created through this transit-oriented development continues to influence the popularity of many of Denver’s urban neighborhoods and the thriving shops and restaurants we enjoy.
Hopefully, more neighborhoods get the opportunity to enjoy similar pockets of commercial activity in the future along the new rail and bus lines being implemented in and around Denver.