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Author Phil Goodstein is a Denver native who has churned out more than 20 volumes about the Mile High City. Not only has he seen to it that the volume is very well illustrated but, as is his wont, he emphasizes history from the bottom up. He explores controversies over the use of the Civic Center while emphasizing the way the different hopes and perspectives of various classes and economic interests have shaped the community. In a word, The Denver Civic Center is not just a history of the land in and around the Civic Center, but it is a profile of Denver as a whole. It is must reading for anybody seeking to grasp the nature of the Mile High City. Information about Goodstein’s books can be found at capitolhillbooks.com
Tours and Talks by Phil Goodstein
Saturday, April 17: West Colfax, 11:00 am–1:00 pm
Meet in front of Cheltenham School, 1580 Julian Street. (Julian is the “J” street in the alphabet west of Federal Boulevard.) The cost is $20.
Saturday, April 24: Auraria, 11:00 am–1:00 pm
Meet in front of the old Greenlee School (the Center for Talent Development) on the east side of the 1100 block of Lipan Street. (Lipan is two blocks west of Santa Fe Drive.) The cost is $20.
Saturday, April 24: West Side Books, 2:00 pm–4:00 pm
Goodstein will sign copies of his new book, The Denver That Is No Moreas part of National Bookstore Day at West Side Books, 3434 West 32nd Avenue. This is in Highland Square, the shopping area along West 32nd Avenue between Julian Street and Lowell Boulevard. The volume lists for $24.95.
Sunday, April 25: The Denver That Is No More, Noon–2:00 pm
Goodstein will sign copies of his new book, The Denver That Is No Moreat Casa Mayan. This is a vintage house on the Auraria Campus at 1020 Ninth Street. (Enter the campus on the West Colfax side. Ninth Street is opposite from Mariposa Street to the south of West Colfax. Marisposa is the “M” in the alphabet west of Broadway and is two blocks west of Kalamath Street. It is the first light after the bttom of the Colfax Viaduct for those coming form the west. No left turn is possible form Colfax onto Ninth Street. Take Ninth Street northeast to where it dead ends. Of to the left is a white frame house, Casa Mayan. While the campus always charges for parking, free parking is available on Mariposa Street on Sundays.. The event includeas a talk about the book form 12:30 to 1:30. It will be available for $25 dollars, tax included..
Friday, April 30: The Seamy Side of Denver, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm
Meet at the flagpole in front of Union Station at 17th and Wynkoop streets. The cost is $20.00.
Saturday, May 1: The Denver That Is No More, 11:00 am–2:00 pm
To celebrate May Day, come to a signing of Goodstein’s latest book, The Denver That Is No More. This is a compact, one-volume history of the city, looking at it through the lens of the community’s demolished landmarks. It lists for $24.95. At the signing, it will be available for $20.00, tax paid. Additional bargains will be offered on Goodstein’s other books. The event is at 1330 Monroe Street.
Sunday, May 2: Capitol Heights, noon–1:00 pm
Gather at the chairs at the southeast corner of 12th Avenue and Madison Street. (Madison is five blocks west of Colorado Boulevard.) This is a free tour. Those who tag along are welcome to tip the tour guide as they see fit.
Saturday, May 8: Washington Park, 11:00 am–1:00 pm
Meet at the statue of Wynken, Blynken, and Nodat the southwest corner of South Franklin Street and Exposition Avenue. (Franklin, eight blocks west of South University Boulevard, is the eastern boundary of Washington Park. Exposition is four blocks south of Alameda Avenue.) The cost is $20.00.
Sunday, May 16: The Ghosts of Cheesman Park, 11:00 am–1:00 pm
Meet at the entrance to the park at Ninth Avenue, half a block west of Race Street. Race is three blocks west of York Street. This part of the park has been closed to traffic during the outbreak of the coronavirus. Street parking is usually available directly to the east of the park. The cost is $20.00.
Saturday, May 22: Ghost Walk, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm
Gather at the statue of the Indian along the east lawn of the Capitol (between Colfax and 14th avenues). The cost is $20.00.
Sunday, June 13: The Legacy of the 1965 Platte Flood, 6:30 pm–7:30 pm
This is a walk sponsored by History Colorado, dealing with the impact and recovery from the 1965 Platte Flood. It gathers on the river side of the REI Building by the bicycle racks near the equivalent of 14th Street and Platte Street. (The gated parking lot to REI is free if you are there less than two hours and do not lose your ticket. Metered street parking is free on Sundays.)
Saturday, June 19: The Oil Boom and Bust, 6:30 pm–8:30 pm
Also sponsored by History Colorado, this stroll focuses on home the oil boom of the 1970s devastated the city. It gathers on the steps of the Emily Griffith Center, the main administration building of Denver Public Schools, at the southeast corner of 19th Avenue and Lincoln Street. (Lincoln is one block east of Broadway.)
Saturday, June 26: Golden Triangle, 6:30 pm–7:30 pm
In this final stroll sponsored by History Colorado, the focus is on the old Evans Addition, once an elite section west of Broadway and south of West Colfax Avenue. It meets on the western steps of the headquarters of History Colorado at 12th Avenue and Broadway.
Please take a moment to check out Phil’s Newest Book Release:
Phil Goodstein, The Denver That Is No More: The Story of the City’s Demolished Landmarks. Denver: New Social Publications, 2021. ISBN 0–9860748–8–8/978–0–9860748–8–2. vi + 326 pp. Illustrations. Index. $24.95.
Denver is always changing. This is a key point of a new, extremely well-illustrated history of the city, The Denver That Is No More by the city’s leading critic, Phil Goodstein. The highly entertaining, easy-to-read volume highlights the impressive buildings that were once the city’s point of pride, structures which have given way to the community’s questionable sense of “progress.”
From its beginnings during the Pikes Peak gold rush of 1858–59, Denver has had a split personality. Side-by-side with those who have called it their home, the community has attracted fly-by-night investors who have grabbed what they can from the Mile High City before moving on. In the process, in the hope of short-term profits, Denver has wantonly seen the destruction of distinguished buildings.
The Denver That Is No More takes the reader around the city. It highlights the continual transformation of the central business district. Readers are now on Colfax, learning about how the road was once a fine residential boulevard. Next the action is along South Colorado Boulevard, the place where baby-boomers went to play in the 1960s and 1970s. The book visits the old Elitch’s and enters some of the distinguished, but long-disappeared movie palaces. In the process, the study lives up to its claim that by grasping the Denver that is no more, readers can better understand the contemporary city and help plot its future.
Here are some books Phil recommends for Troubled Times:
The Denver School Book (Denver: New Social Publications, 2019. ISBN 0–9860748–4–5/978–0–9860748–4–4. vi + 490 pp. Illustrations. Index. $24.95) is Phil Goodstein’s latest venture.
It dissects what local schools have been all about. It starts with the city’s first school in 1859, telling about the character of teachers, administrators, and school board members. The study encompasses different schoolhouses, linking them with distinctive neighborhoods. The Denver School Book spells out how the schools have interrelated with the community, and their successes and failures. In passing, it deals with the essential nature of public education and refers to what critics have blasted as “compulsory miseducation.” The extremely well-illustrated Denver School Book is only the beginning of the story. It is the first of a trilogy. The tome ends in 1967, right when DPS was on the verge of school busing upheavals. They will be the subject of volume two, The Denver School Busing Wars. The third part of the study promises to bring the subject into the end of the second decade of the 21st century.
Phil Goodstein, The Denver Civic Center: The Heart of the Mile High City. Denver: New Social Publications, 2016. ISBN 0–9860748–2–9. vi + 478 pp. Illustrations. Index. $24.95.
One hundred years ago, Robert Speer triumphantly returned as mayor of Denver. A prime project was completing the Civic Center. This was an initiative Speer had launched on first taking office in 1904. In the middle of the city, he announced, Denver must have a majestic park. Adjacent to the Capitol, the Civic Center was to be the heart of the Mile High administration and civic life. He encountered numerous roadblocks in making it a reality.
By the time Speer became mayor, Denver had burgeoned as a metropolis with more than 100,000 residents. As it had boomed since the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of 1858–59, newly wealthy individuals advertised their affluence by erecting opulent mansions. Many were in and around what became the Civic Center.
Already in the 1860s, 14th Street had started to emerge as Denver’s address of distinction. Connecting the future Larimer Square with what became the Civic Center, it was where leading bankers, politicians, and members of high society lived. The original home of the University of Denver was at 14th and Arapahoe streets while many medical faceless were nearby. Included was an early home of the University of Colorado School of Medicine at 13th and Welton streets.
The Civic Center proper is in Evans Addition, land pre-empted by Colorado Governor John Evans in 1864 to the south of Colfax Avenue and west of Broadway. In passing, The Denver Civic Center explains why the diagonal street pattern of downtown ends at Colfax and who the street’s namesake, Schuyler Colfax, was.
Land usages rapidly changed during Denver’s first 50 years. As Capitol Hill overwhelmed Evans Addition and 14th Street in the early 20th century as the city’s elite neighborhood, the land near the Civic Center was increasingly an industrial and commercial district. Broadway north of Cherry Creek emerged as the city’s premier site to buy a prestigious new car. Numerous apartments and residential hotels filled the area.
All the while, the Capitol dominates the hill east of Broadway. Its construction and the various monuments in and about it, including in the Civic Center proper, are among the themes of the book. In passing, The Denver Civic Center tells about the tunnel system under the Capitol, complete with the folklore that a couple of floating heads are stashed beneath the seat of the state government.
In the 1970s, the area in and around the Civic Center started emerged as the Golden Triangle. This increasingly became the popular name for the spread encompassed by West Colfax Avenue, Speer Boulevard, and Broadway. Besides being the heart of Denver’s cultural district with the Denver Art Museum and the main branch of the Denver Public Library, it came to be the home of elite residential towers. In passing, the volume notes the Golden Triangle has also been the home of Denver television with the studios of channels 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 31 being in and around the section.
The Silver Triangle emerged in the early 1980s as a mirror of the Golden Triangle. Generally, this is the section bordered by West Colfax Avenue to Speer Boulevard to about Champa Street to 15th Street. The Denver Civic Center looks at the landmark buildings there, relating how the Colorado Convention Center emerged and contemporary efforts to transform 14th Street into Ambassador Street