Skip to content

RiNo Infrastructure Part 4: River North Park

Let’s continue our look at the new infrastructure supporting the transformation of Denver’s River North area from a gritty industrial zone to a thriving mixed-use urban district. So far we’ve looked at RTD’s 38th & Blake Station followed by Part 1: 35th Street Pedestrian BridgePart 2: 38th Street Pedestrian Bridge, and Part 3: Brighton Boulevard Reconstruction. Today in Part 4, we’ll focus on River North Park. To get a better understanding for the vision of the proposed River North Park, I met with Jamie Licko, Executive Director of the River North Art District. Thank you Jamie for the information and insight!

Plans for a park in the River North (RiNo) area go back to the city’s 2003 River North Plan and the 2009 River North Gateway Master Plan. The best location for the new park was determined to be along the South Platte River at 35th Street and Arkins Court. Not only is this location geographically central to the RiNo district, but it also puts the park directly adjacent to the proposed 35th Street Woonerf that will link the planned RiNo Pedestrian Bridge with the almost-finished 35th Street Pedestrian Bridge, as well as the proposed River North Promenade and the planned Delgany Festival Street (more on the 35th Street Woonerf, the RiNo Pedestrian Bridge, the River North Promenade, and the Delgany Festival Street projects in future installments in this series).

Below is a Google Earth aerial with the future River North Park site outlined:


The southwestern two-thirds of the site was owned by Interstate Shippers, a trucking company, until 2011 when the city acquired the land for the future park. The northeastern one-third has been owned by the city since the 1990s and used as a Denver Police Department Vehicle Service Building.

Below are a bunch of existing conditions photos I took a couple of weekends ago.

Left: View looking northwest from the intersection of 35th and Delgany along 35th Street towards Arkins Court and the South Platte River, with the existing Police Service Building on the left. Right: View from the corner of 35th Street and Arkins Court looking south at the Police Service Building.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-1 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-2

Left: The river side of the Police Service Building from Arkins Court. Right: View looking northeast along Arkins Court, with the Police Service Building on the right.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-5 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-3

Left: View from approximately the same location as the photo on the right above but looking more north at the river and the TAXI development on the west bank. Right: The former Interstate Shippers Building as viewed from Arkins Court, with the Police Service Building beyond.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-8 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-4

Left: Looking southwest at the gap (vacated Delgany Street) between the new Great Divide Brewery Phase 1 building and the Police Service Building where the proposed Delgany Festival Street will go, with the Interstate Shippers Building beyond on the right. Right: Close-up of the Interstate Shippers Building from approximately the corner of 35th and Delgany.

2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-6 2016-04-17_rino-park-existing-conditions-7

One final existing conditions image—a Google Earth bird’s-eye perspective that I’ve oriented to match the concept plan below:


OK let’s get to the plans for the River North Park! The following images are courtesy of Denver Parks and Recreation, the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, and Wenk Associates, the landscape architecture firm that designed the park.

The preferred concept plan for River North Park:


There are a number of really exciting features in this plan! I think the most exciting is that neither of the buildings in the park will be demolished; rather, they will be partially deconstructed to create both indoor and outdoor community spaces.

The Police Service Building consists of three major components. The center section of the building will be removed except for its structural framework, which will be preserved to create a cool outdoor space, Maker’s Plaza (#12 on the plan), where kids and adults can play and get creative. On either side of the plaza, the two remaining building sections will be remodeled into community spaces for neighborhood events, retail, workshops, and other indoor activities. Large artistic signage would wrap portions of the 35th Street and Delgany Festival Street sides of the building:




Similarly, the former Interstate Shippers Building will be partially deconstructed to create an outdoor pavilion area surrounded by the building’s skeletal supports while the remaining part the building would be used as community space:




Other neat elements of the park include a storm water garden, several large lawns, a community vegetable garden, groves of trees, children’s play areas, and direct river access (thanks to the replacement of Arkins Court with a promenade):



When looking at the Google Earth images and site photos above, it’s hard to imaging a beautiful park in this location. However, with everything that’s proposed or under construction around it—new streets and promenades and bridges and private-sector development on virtually every parcel—the transformation of this area will occur at a pace and with a level of coordination that is quite remarkable. If all goes as planned, construction on River North Park will begin in the spring of 2017 and be completed about a year later.

Next up in our RiNo Infrastructure series: Delgany Festival Street

Downtown’s Newest Public Space: Tivoli Quad

Did you know a new public space is coming to Downtown Denver? Yes indeed, on the Auraria Campus in front of the historic Tivoli Brewery/Student Union building, the Tivoli Quad is under construction!

The Tivoli Quad is a nearly 4-acre landscaped lawn and plaza area that will not only be the main outdoor gathering space for Auraria students, but a welcoming public place for downtown residents, workers, and visitors. The Quad will occupy approximately half of the large green space in front of the historic Tivoli where the Auraria athletic fields used to be. When MSU Denver opened their new athletic fields south of Colfax in 2015, that allowed for the construction of the Tivoli Quad and other improvements to move forward. The remaining green space to the east (closest to the CU Denver Commons Building) will be retained as a soccer field for CU Denver and, in the future, the site for additional academic buildings.

This first Google Earth aerial image from October 2014 shows the athletic fields before work on the Tivoli Quad had started. (For these first three images, east/Speer is at the top and north/Auraria Parkway is on the left.)


In this second Google Earth image from October 2015, work had started on the Tivoli Quad project:


And here’s a site plan that shows the new Tivoli Quad and surroundings (courtesy of AHEC and Wenk Associates, the project’s landscape architect/urban design firm):


The Tivoli Quad features a large lawn for passive recreation, plenty of hardscaped areas for circulation and seating, a water feature, numerous trees and plantings, and other pedestrian amenities. The front of the historic Tivoli building will be redesigned to accommodate a cafe and beer garden with patios that overlook the plaza. The entire area is also being designed with large events in mind—such as commencement ceremonies—where lighting, A/V connections, and other features will allow for the Quad to be transformed into an amphitheater accommodating 12,000 seats.

As part of the Tivoli Quad project, new street infrastructure is going in as well. The biggest of these transportation improvements is the construction of 11th Street. Currently on the Auraria Campus, 11th Street exists only south of Larimer, where it functions mostly as an internal campus drive for parking access and service vehicles. With the Tivoli Quad project, 11th Street is being built as a full-access public street from Larimer to Auraria Parkway, where traffic signals will be installed to make 11th and Auraria Parkway a new fully signalized intersection. 11th Street will also receive bicycle lanes in both directions.

Larimer Street, which used to end in a turn-around loop at 11th (visible in the aerial photos), is being reconfigured to create a T-intersection at 11th, which opens up Larimer between Speer and 11th as a public street as well. The stretch of Larimer Street near the Tivoli between 11th and 10th has been removed and is being replaced with a pedestrian plaza fully integrated as part of the Tivoli Quad design.

Finally, Walnut Street, which presently runs from 9th to 10th Streets between the Tivoli and the parking garage, will be extended to 11th, connecting to the access drive along the side of MSU Denver’s Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center, which will extend Walnut from 9th all the way to 12th Street.

Several of these new streets around the Tivoli Quad will be curbless, allowing the streets to be pedestrian-friendly and to function as an extension of the Quad for large events.

Now some photos!

The new 11th Street, looking from Larimer towards Walnut and Auraria Parkway with the Pepsi Center in the background:



11th Street under construction from Walnut looking south toward Larimer:


Future intersection of 11th and Walnut Street under construction:


Looking down the new Walnut Street from 12th toward 11th, with the MSU Denver Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center on the right:


Intersection of Walnut and 11th Street under construction:


Tivoli Quad under construction with the newly pedestrianized section of Larimer between 10th and 11th on the right:


Tivoli Quad along Larimer between 10th and 11th in front of the historic Tivoli Brewery/Student Union:


These last three photos were taken from the top of the historic Tivoli looking towards Downtown with the Tivoli Quad in the foreground.

View looking northeast at the Hotel and Hospitality Learning Center and Lower Downtown beyond, with the intersection of 11th and Walnut under construction in the center of the view:


View looking east at the Denver skyline and the central section of the Tivoli Quad:


View to the southeast with the new Larimer Street promenade on the right:


What a fantastic project! We’ll revisit Tivoli Quad later this summer after construction has been completed and all of the landscaping is in.

Live.Ride.Share Denver 2016 – Coming May 17!

“The right to have access to every building in the city by private motorcar, in an age when everyone possesses such a vehicle, is actually the right to destroy the city.” -Lewis Mumford

I am excited to share the news that Denver will be hosting the Live.Ride.Share mobility summit on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at the Colorado Convention Center!


The Live.Ride.Share Denver event will feature excellent national and local speakers and great networking opportunities focused on expanding options for getting around Denver through means other than the private automobile.

Shared mobility services, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian options—there are all sorts of alternatives for expanding mobility and access around the city in an affordable, environmentally friendly, and convenient way! We must work together to reduce Denver’s reliance on the private automobile and to improve our first-mile/last-mile connections. Our city is growing and densifying at an amazing rate and building transportation infrastructure that serves only the private automobile is no longer a viable option. You can be part of the solution by attending Live.Ride.Share Denver 2016!

To register, click here and to learn more about the Live.Ride.Share Denver 2016 event, visit their website, which includes a number of excellent guest blog posts! I am attending. Will you?


FasTracks Progress: Central Park Station

Back in February, we checked in on the 38th and Blake station along the RTD’s soon-to-open A-line traveling between Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport. Today, we are going to visit another station in anticipation of the new commuter line opening in 18 days!

All of the stations, with the exception of Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport, more or less follow the same design and format: At grade crossings at each end of the station, dark green slanted glass shelters, and raised platforms for level boarding on the trains.

2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-05 2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-04

Backing up a little bit, here is the whole station from Smith Road and Ulster Street.


We have mentioned several times that full speed, regular schedule tests are underway. So, I decided to wait for a train. Trek on shiny new Sliverliner V, trek on!

2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-02 2016-04-03_CentralParkStation-03

Eighteen days until the grand opening! I can’t believe it’s almost here!

Blast from the Past: Denver Post Building

This image, taken on October 15, 2005, shows the construction of what was then known as the Denver Newspaper Agency building, located at the corner of Broadway and Cheyenne Place in Downtown Denver.


The Denver Newspaper Agency (DNA) was a publishing company that produced both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News under a joint operating agreement. The DNA’s new headquarters overlooking Civic Center Park was climbing to its final 11-story height in this October 2005 photo. A little over three years after this photo was taken, on February 27, 2009, the Rocky Mountain News would publish its final edition, just two months short of its 150th anniversary. Today the building is home to the Denver Post among other tenants.

New Pedestrian Bridge Opens Over I-25 Between Colorado Blvd and Evans!

I’m sure many of us who have lived, visited, and gone through the I-25 / Colorado Boulevard corridor know that a new pedestrian bridge was under construction between Colorado Boulevard and Evans Avenue for many months. Unfortunately, it slipped through the cracks and we never covered the bridge from start to finish.

When I was out taking photographs of the new Colorado Center phase going up, I had to visit the bridge because it is a huge win for these neighborhoods. Pedestrian access across the highway in this area is very dismal, and overpasses are not the most pedestrian friendly piece of infrastructure. This is why we have these pedestrian bridges, much like the Highland Bridge; connecting the Highland neighborhood with the Central Platte Valley and beyond.

Let’s start off with what you’re actually crossing when using this bridge. The Evans Avenue overpass is just to the south with the Colorado Boulevard overpass at a decent distance to the north. As you can imagine, it’s not very easy for the immediate neighborhoods across the highway, such as Virginia Village, to get to the Colorado Boulevard Light-rail Station despite being so close.

2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-05 2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-07

Queue a shiny, new pedestrian bridge! Reminiscent of the Highland Bridge, this new bridge over I-25 has a similar arched design with cable supports.

2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-11 2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-09

2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-04 2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-03

On the Colorado Center side, ramps, for pedestrians and bicycles, lead up to the bridge. On the Virginia Village neighborhood side, there is both a long ramp and stair access.

2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-01 2016-03-27_I25ColoradoPedBridge-08

One of the neatest elements I saw on this bridge were these little metal plaques that have walking quotes engraved on them. They are all over the center portion of the bridge. Next time you are in the area, make sure to walk the bridge and check out all of these plaques.


Pedestrian bridges are a great way for connecting two neighborhoods over existing infrastructure, such as I-25. What a great win for Denver!

Census Update Extra: Postcensal and Intercensal Estimates

A few days ago I shared with you the July 2015 population estimates for Colorado counties from the US Census Bureau. In this post, I thought I’d provide an overview of the Census Bureau’s annual population estimates because sometimes it can get a bit confusing. What are these postcensal and intercensal estimates anyway? Let’s take a look.

Decennial Census
First, as I’m sure most everyone knows, the US Census Bureau produces an official count of the US population once every decade—otherwise known as the decennial census—on April 1 of a year ending in a zero, with the most recent decennial census occurring in 2010. There are many ways to obtain Census 2010 data but two good places to start are here and here. If you have questions about how the decennial census works, try this page.

Postcensal Estimates
In the years after a decennial census, the Census Bureau makes annual population estimates for states, metro areas, counties, and cities/towns. These are handled through the Bureau’s Population Estimates Program and are referred to as their postcensal population estimates. The postcensal population estimates are as of July 1 of each year—as opposed to April 1 for the decennial census. The annual postcensal estimates are released in stages, with the estimates for states coming out in December of the same year as the July in question, followed by metro area and county estimates in March of the following year, and then city/town estimates in May of the following year. The methodology for how the Census Bureau makes their annual population estimates can be found here.

The Census Bureau labels these annual data series of estimates as vintages, with the vintage year referring to the July to which the estimates apply, not when the estimates were released to the public. For example, the state estimates released in December 2014, the metro area/county estimates released in March 2015, and the city/town estimates released in May 2015 are collectively known as the Vintage 2014 estimates, as they all pertain to the estimated population on July 1, 2014.

What’s important to know about these annual postcensal estimates is that each vintage is a complete re-estimation for all years since the last decennial census, not the addition of just the most recent year. When a new vintage is released, the previous vintage “expires” in a way, since the new vintage’s estimates are based on more recent and/or accurate data. Therefore, it’s usually best to use the estimates in the most recent vintage available.

(Note: There isn’t a “Vintage 2010” in the usual form since that’s the year of the decennial census; however, starting with the Vintage 2011 data series, July 2010 estimates are included in each vintage to allow for year-to-year comparisons to be made using July-to-July data.)

In the table below, I’ve compiled all of the postcensal estimates for Denver so far since the 2010 Census:


As you can see, the change in a particular year’s estimate from one vintage to the next is usually fairly minimal. For example, in the Vintage 2014 data, Denver’s population was estimated at 663,862. In the new Vintage 2015 data, that estimate has been revised up by 101 people to 663,963. In the Vintage 2013 data released two years ago, Denver’s population was estimated at 649,495. However, in the Vintage 2015 data, the 2013 estimate has been revised down by 1,084 people to 648,411, a slightly more significant adjustment.

Intercensal Estimates
Once the next decennial census rolls around and the final population counts are in, the Census Bureau makes one final re-estimation for the years in the just-completed decade, known as their intercensal population estimates. At that point, because the actual population counts for both the beginning and end of the decade are known, the Bureau recalculates all of the annual estimates for the years in between so that the estimates fit between the two census counts. The intercensal estimates ultimately supersede the postcensal estimates that were made along the way.

Here’s a table I’ve put together that looks at the relationship between the postcensal and intercensal estimates for the most recently completed decade: 2000-2010.


When the 2010 Census count was finalized, it became evident that the Bureau had slightly overestimated Denver’s population during the decade by about 10,000 (assuming, of course, that the 2010 Census hadn’t undercounted Denver’s population). Consequently, the 2000-2010 intercensal estimates, shown in the last row, adjusted the annual totals to distribute them between 554,636 and 600,158. Those are now the official estimates of Denver’s population for those intercensal years from the “aughts” decade.

So there you have it! We’ll have to wait until about 2022 when the 2010-2020 intercensal estimates are released to know what Denver’s population really is during these booming years; but even then, those estimates will still be just highly-educated guesses.

Denver Census Update 2016

Once again, it’s time for our annual review of US Census Bureau population estimates for Colorado counties.

Every March, the US Census Bureau releases county population estimates for July 1 of the preceding year, known as their annual postcensal estimates. The population estimates released today by the Census Bureau are for July 1, 2015. Use these links for previous years’ posts: 20152014 | 2013 | 2010

For the seventh time in the past eight years, Denver County has led the state in numeric population growth. The Census Bureau’s 2015 population estimates show that Denver County (the City and County of Denver) had a population of 682,545 on July 1, 2015, an increase of 18,582 since the July 2014 estimate. Denver’s 2010 Census population count was 600,158.


Here are two tables I’ve prepared showing the “Vintage 2015” postcensal estimates for the Top 10 Colorado counties in both numeric and percentage population gain between 2014 and 2015:



Not only did Denver lead the state in numeric population gain from 2014-2015, but its one-year increase of 18,582 is higher than the previous three years, which averaged around 15,000 each. This indicates that Denver’s growth actually accelerated in 2014-2015 compared to the previous three years. With last year’s estimate, Denver regained the title of most populous county in the state from El Paso County. This year, Denver widened its lead over El Paso to a little over 8,000. Of course, in time, El Paso will permanently pass Denver as the most populous county given that El Paso has over 13 times the land area of Denver County. From a percent change perspective, Broomfield County grew the fastest from 2014-2015 with just over 5% growth.

Next, let’s look at the Top 10 Colorado counties in both numeric and percentage population gain between the 2010 Census and the new July 2015 estimates—the first half of the decade:



Denver has gained 82,387 people since the 2010 Census. Is it any wonder that we are going through a development boom? That’s a 13.73% increase in the city’s population since 2010—good enough for second place in the state (after Broomfield’s 16.42%)—which is pretty remarkable considering Denver’s high base population from which the percent change is calculated. Denver remains on pace to be in the vicinity of 750,000 for the 2020 Census, but a lot can change between now and then to slow that pace down.

As I did last year, let’s focus on the just the seven-county Denver/Boulder metro area (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson counties). The first set of tables show the population counts and estimates from 2010 through 2015 for these seven metro counties, followed by a column-percentage table showing each county’s percent of the metro area total population for each of the six time periods:


The far right column in the percentage table shows each county’s variance (in absolute percentage points) of share of metro population between 2010 and 2015. Denver began the decade with a 21.56% share of the metro area population, and that has increased to 22.18% by 2015—a slight increase, but a continuation of the trend over the past few years that is counter to the historic trend since the 1930s of Denver losing ground to its suburban neighbors. On the other end, Jefferson County has seen a 0.82% percentage point decline in its metro-area share since 2010.

The second analysis compares each county’s percent of metro area population growth from 2014-2015 to its overall share of the metro area population. If growth were proportionally distributed across the metro area, each county’s percent share of growth from 2014 to 2015 (its “growth capture rate”) would be the same as its share of metro population. Let’s take a look:


The two columns on the left show the numeric population changes for the seven counties between 2014 and 2015 and the percent each county captured of the metro total increase of 62,929. The next column to the right shows each county’s overall share of the metro population at the beginning of this time period (July 2014). The rightmost column compares these two percentages by calculating the absolute variance in percentage points. Denver’s 29.53% share of 2014-2015 metro growth is 7.50 percentage points higher than its proportional share of the metro population, indicating that Denver substantially over-captured in population growth from 2014-2015 compared to its metro neighbors. Broomfield and Douglas counties also grew more than their relative shares by a few percentage points. Adams captured just about its exact proportional share, while Boulder, Arapahoe, and Jefferson counties significantly under-captured their proportional share of metro area growth.

With strong population increases and continued good news about job growth and the local economy, we will likely see the pace of infill development in Denver’s urban core remain steady in the near-term.

RiNo Infrastructure Part 3: Brighton Boulevard Reconstruction

Denver’s River North district is booming with both private-sector development and public investment in transportation facilities and public spaces. So far in our series looking at RiNo’s new infrastructure, we’ve had a FasTracks update on RTD’s 38th & Blake Station, followed by Part 1: 35th Street Pedestrian Bridge and Part 2: 38th Street Pedestrian Bridge. In Part 3, let’s take a look at the reconstruction of Brighton Boulevard.

Brighton Boulevard was named, as you probably guessed, for its destination: the community of Brighton located in Adams County approximately 20 miles northeast of Downtown Denver. South of 46th Avenue/Interstate 70, Brighton Boulevard follows the alignment of Wewatta Street on the downtown grid. North of the highway, Brighton Boulevard heads north through the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood before veering northeast and running along the east side of the South Platte River into Commerce City. Then it gets weird. At 69th Avenue, Brighton Boulevard becomes a service road along the west side of Vasquez Boulevard and eventually dead-ends at O’Brian Canal near 80th Avenue. However, back at 72nd Avenue, the service road along the east side of Vasquez picks up the name Brighton Road, which continues another 12 miles into Brighton and ends at Bromley Lane. So, between 72nd and 80th Avenues, there’s both a Brighton Boulevard and a Brighton Road running parallel to each other.


Near 80th Avenue in Adams County, Brighton Boulevard (left) dead-ends at O’Brian Canal while Brighton Road (right) continues on to Brighton. Source: Google Maps

Before we get to the reconstruction of Brighton Boulevard, let’s look at the street’s history!

The stretch of Brighton Boulevard in today’s RiNo was platted as part of different subdivisions from the mid-1870s through the early 1890s. The first segment of Brighton Boulevard, located between 38th and 44th Streets, was laid out as part of St. Vincent’s Addition of 1874 and was appropriately named St. Vincent Street. Developed by Catholic Bishop Joseph Machebeuf, the St. Vincent’s Addition reserved eight blocks of land between 39th and 41st Streets for a hospital to be known as St. Vincent’s Home. The hospital building’s foundation was completed but the project never made it any further and was abandoned.


St. Vincent’s Addition of 1874 plat map. Source: City and County of Denver

In 1881, the next section of Brighton Boulevard, roughly between 34th and 38th Streets, was platted as part of the Ironton subdivision of January 1881 and the Ironton First Addition of June 1881. The “Ironton” name was appropriate, for throughout the two Ironton subdivisions (and St. Vincent’s Addition too), several smelters and foundries were developed. Business such as Rocky Mountain Ore Production Works, Denver Rolling Mill, Colorado Iron Works (where The Source is today), Denver Ore Sampling Works, and the Grant Smelter Works dominated the area during the 1880s. By 1882, St. Vincent Street had been renamed Wewatta Street.


Portion of Rollandet’s Map of the City of Denver, September 1885 showing Wewatta Street (now Brighton Boulevard) and industrial uses in the St. Vincent’s and Ironton subdivisions. Source: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

In the 1880s, the area was still largely undeveloped except for the industrial uses noted above, which were mostly found southwest of 34th and northeast of 41st. However, single-family homes on 25-foot lots were starting to sprout up in the area by the late 1880s. Robinson’s Atlas of 1887 shows several small houses scattered mostly along Wewatta and Delgany. Wood houses are color-coded as yellow and brick houses are pink. Just for fun, I’ve cropped a current Google Earth aerial image to the same extent as the Robinson map:


Portion of 1887 Robinson Atlas showing small homes along Wewatta and Delgany with comparison to a 2015 aerial photo of the same extent. Sources: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection; Google Earth.

Many of the houses along Delgany Street between 36th and 38th Streets are still around and used as residences. Several others in the area have been converted to commercial uses.


Small homes from the late 1800s remain along the 3600 block of Delgany. Source: Google Street View.

During the 1800s and early 1900s, the area was fairly isolated by the Union Pacific railroad tracks, with the primary connection into the neighborhood via 38th Street. Connections to the rest of the city improved, however, in the early 1920s with the completion of the controversial Broadway Extension project that pushed Broadway north from its then-terminus at Welton Street and across the diagonal downtown street grid to Blake Street, where a new viaduct took Broadway over the railroad tracks and curved northeast to connect to Wewatta Street. This image of a document from the late 1910s promoting the Broadway Extension shows the proposed path of Broadway.


Promotional material for the Broadway Extension project, late 1910s. Source: Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.

With the completion of the Broadway Extension project, Wewatta Street was renamed Brighton Boulevard by the Denver City Council in 1924.

The mix of industrial and residential uses in the area continued into the 1930s. Here is an aerial from 1933 showing the Brighton Boulevard corridor. Note the mix of single-family homes and gritty industrial/railroad uses. This is a big image—click, zoom, and scroll!


1933 aerial photograph showing a mix of industrial and residential uses along the Brighton Boulevard corridor. Source: City and County of Denver.

Into the post-WWII era, the residential uses were mostly overtaken by light industrial, commercial, and automobile-related uses. This 1992 aerial photo, cropped to the same extent as the 1933 aerial above, shows the loss of much of the 19th century housing in the area.


1992 aerial photo of the Brighton Boulevard corridor showing increased industrial and commercial uses and fewer residential uses compared to earlier in the century. Source: City and County of Denver.

Given the gritty, industrial nature of the Brighton Boulevard corridor and its relative isolation from the rest of the city, the area received virtually no infrastructure improvements from the city over many decades. Denver was content to allow Brighton Boulevard and its adjacent blocks to suffer with poor lighting and storm water drainage and a complete absence of sidewalks, curb, and gutter. This is the streetscape that still exists along Brighton Boulevard today:


The lack of standard urban infrastructure elements like curbs, gutters, and sidewalks have defined the Brighton Boulevard streetscape. Source: Google Street View.

That condition is about to change dramatically, and soon! With hundreds of millions of dollars of new development reshaping the River North area, the city is moving forward in 2016 with a complete reconstruction of the corridor’s infrastructure, paid for by $25 million in city funds (part of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative) and several million dollars from local property owners who voted to raise their taxes through a Business Improvement District and a General Improvement District to fund important upgrades to the project.

The new Brighton Boulevard will include a completely rebuilt street in concrete; new curb, gutter, and storm water drainage; new traffic signals, crosswalks, and intersection designs; wide sidewalks and vertically separated cycle tracks in both directions; buried utilities and new street and pedestrian lighting; and landscaping, wayfinding signage, and public art.

The best way to get a sense for what the new Brighton Boulevard will be like is to watch the following video, courtesy of the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative and RNL Design, who produced the video.

Construction should begin later this year and be complete in 2017.

In Part 4 of our RiNo Infrastructure series, we will take a look at the plans for the new River North Park.