Neighborhood Histories


Located on the banks of Cherry Creek in the heart of downtown Denver, Auraria is Denver’s oldest neighborhood, which predates the city’s establishment. Auraria today is the thriving campus of the Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC) that opened in 1976. The Auraria neighborhood explores how the redevelopment of this community affected the local Hispanic population through the Displaced Aurarians West Side Community and the DURA list. The past can also be discovered through Golda Meir and the Tivoli Brewery.


Barnum’s history is one of a quiet development over more than a century, although not for lack of a strong sense of community. In 1878 master showman P. T. Barnum purchased a tract of land on the western edge of Denver. Today this community of young first-generation and immigrant families welcomes newcomers from all over the world. The Barnum neighborhood features the legendary circus king P.T. Barnum and community leader Sam Sandos. A sense of pride and history can be explored in Cedar Park and Barnum Past and Present.

Capitol Hill

The mile-high locale of Colorado State Capitol was once the neighborhood of Denver’s wealthiest residents. By the close of the twentieth century, the area had evolved into an exciting blend of past and present with classic century-old mansions and contemporary town homes and apartment buildings existing side by side. Famous and prestigious residents Margaret “Molly” Brown, Mamie Doud Eisenhower and Dennis Sheedy called Capitol Hill home, along with a few literary figures on Poet’s Row and ghosts in Cheesman Park. Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods (CHUN) the organization behind the annual People’s Fair, started in 1969 to improve the neighborhood.

Five Points

Throughout Denver's illustrious history, Five Points and the Whittier neighborhood, located northeast of downtown, have been a sanctuary for the African American community. The historic area is now undergoing an urban renaissance with numerous new businesses opening and lively street festivals punctuating the summer air, such as Juneteenth. The neighborhood is the home of the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, a branch of the Denver Public Library. Explore the rich history of civic leaders of the Hispanic and African American community through Corky Gonzales and Dr. Clarence Holmes. Feel the spirit of local entrepreneurs at Mallard’s Grocery and Confectionary, Melvina’s Beauty Shop, Rice’s Tap Room and Oven, Rhythm Records & Sporting Goods and Niederhut Carriage Company.

Park Hill

In 1887 Baron Winckler designed the original Park Hill development on 32 acres of land he owned in northeast Denver. In 1898, in response to the Spanish-American War, the Baron allowed land directly north of the original development to be used as Camp Alva Adams. Homes were first built in Park Hill in 1900 and an airport later known as Stapleton International in 1929. As the neighborhood grew, settlers from many nations, including England, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy moved into the neighborhood, as did African Americans. Community leaders Rachel Noel and the organization the Park Hill Action Committee fought to integrate the neighborhood and public school system. A legacy of integration has left many residents of Park Hill with an understandable pride in the tradition of tolerance and diversity in their community.

University Park

This center of cultural activity is the home of the University of Denver. In 1886, Rufus “Potato” Clark donated the land that would soon become home to the University. The area features some of south Denver's finest architecture including Chamberlin Observatory. Today’s University Park is a vibrant part of the metropolitan area with beautiful homes and a tremendous variety of shopping and restaurants. History of the neighborhood is featured in Woodstock West, Barry Matchett’s Oral Histories and Transportation.

West Colfax

Originally known as Golden Road for its connection of Golden and Denver, Colfax Avenue was renamed in 1896 for Schuyler Colfax, vice-president to President Ulysses S. Grant. The streets of West Colfax Today are filled with shopping centers, healthcare facilities and commercial offices that blend with residences in this Hispanic and Asian multi-ethnic neighborhood. More than 100 years ago West Colfax was the home of Denver’s original Jewish population and the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society. Much of the recent history of West Colfax has been concerned with a series of revitalization efforts. Longtime resident and activist Nettie Moore, has pioneered progress in the neighborhood and improved the quality of life for everyone.