Checking Out: A History Lover’s Guide to Denver

With so much new development and construction going on throughout the Denver area, it can sometimes feel like every building more than a few years old has been torn down or drastically changed. Mark A Barnhouse’s new book, A History Lover’s Guide to Denver (2020, Arcadia), shows that despite the fast growth and countless updates happening in each and every corner of town, much of the Mile High City’s character and unique past can still be found tucked away on many of its streets.

Whether you are new to Denver or a seasoned native, A History Lover’s Guide to Denver offers little-known facts and context that anyone with an interest in history will find surprising. Did you know that Market Street used to be named Holladay Street, but the relatives of Ben Holladay, the street’s namesake, petitioned the city to change it because the 1900 block was so synonymous with prostitution? Or that the stained glass windows in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Colfax were created in Munich using a one-of-a-kind process lost due to a World War II bombing, meaning they could never be recreated? Or that Tennyson and Highland Square on 32nd Avenue, along with Historic South Gaylord Street by Washington Park, Old South Pearl Street in Platt Park, and some other smaller and less noticeable locations throughout town, are old neighborhood commercial districts originally established along streetcar stops?

While much of A History Lover’s Guide to Denver focuses on downtown, entries span throughout the city and even include other notable surrounding locales, such as the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave on Lookout Mountain, the Coors Brewery in Golden, Delaney Farm Historic District in Aurora, and even the Denver Mountain Parks System throughout the Front Range. Some of the Northwest Denver sites featured include Regis University, North High School, Potter Highlands Historic District, Lakeside Amusement Park (which, Barnhouse claims, contrary to popular legend, was never actually called “White City”), and more. If you have ever passed by a unique and historic looking building in town and thought to yourself, “I wonder what the story with that place is?”, there is a good chance it is featured in A History Lover’s Guide to Denver.

While not yet available through Denver Public Library, you can find more information on A History Lover’s Guide to Denver at


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