So…is it Platte Park or Platt Park? That is the
Named in the 1860’s as “Platte Park”
using the letter “e”, there is some confusion
if the intention was to name the neighborhood after
the South Platte River or to name it after James Platt,
founder of Platt Paper Company and early Denver leader,
like the park. Today, the accepted spelling and official
name of the neighborhood is Platt Park.
Platt Park was originally a portion of the area that
was incorporated as the Town of South Denver in 1886.
Formed to limit the creation of more saloons and roadhouses,
the Town instituted many ordinances to prohibit any
nuisance and misdemeanor possible—even including
a liquor license fee of $2,500!
James Fleming was the first and only mayor of South
Denver and originally came from Pennsylvania. His estate,
built in 1882 at Grant and Florida streets, initially
covered the entire block and included an orchard known
as Fleming’s Grove. The property was sold to the
Town in 1891 and was converted into the jail, library,
and town hall.
After being annexed to the City of Denver in 1894,
the Fleming estate continued to serve the community—being
used as a library until 1913 and later as the location
of the Platt Park Senior Center, built in 1974.
With the extension of the Denver Tramway Company’s
trolley car line south along Pearl Street from Alameda
to Evans and east to the University of Denver, the surrounding
neighborhoods, including Platt Park, began to boom.
Between 1900 and 1915 many buildings were completed
along this street, both residential and commercial.
Businesses including barber and beauty shops, hardware
stores, pharmacies, mechanics, movies, and diners popped
up to serve the residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Much of the architecture in the neighborhood is turn-of
the-century Victorian and bungalows from the 1920’s,
30’s, and 40’s.
As throughout the country, the Stock Market Crash and
Great Depression impacted the businesses along Old South
Pearl and many were forced to shut their doors. However,
as the neighborhood continued to grow new businesses
continued to move in. With the completion of Interstate
25 in the 50’s, the original South Pearl Street
corridor was cut in half.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, many businesses
were again forced to close as larger scale retailing
drew customers away from the area. Artisans were attracted
to the vacant buildings by cheap rents and moved in.
In 1978, the Old South Pearl Merchant’s Association
began holding its annual street fair and focused energy
on improving the look of South Pearl Street. With grants
from the City, the association installed the old fashioned
street lamps and cobbled pavers.
Today, Old South Pearl Street and its quaint shops,
along with Platt Park, and the new light rail station
expected to be completed within the next few years,
make the Platt Park neighborhood one of the most popular
in Central Denver.