Denver sure has changed a lot since its founding in 1858 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. From covered wagons and saloons to light rails and skyscrapers, the Mile High City has remained a rapidly growing hub of the West since its inception, and whether you view it as progress or a problem, there’s no question that Denver’s population growth continues to expand at a rapid rate, and with it, urban sprawl. These intriguing historical images will give you a glimpse into the life of Denverites as it was roughly a century ago.
1. Denver, 1859
In November of 1858, Denver was founded as a gold mining town on the South Platte River. It served as the eastern gateway to the Rockies and would expand rapidly to become the Territorial Capital in 1867 and the official state capital in 1881.
2. An overland caravan laden with boats, (circa 1889-90)
From Robert B. Stanton's Denver, Colorado Canyon, and Pacific Railway Survey, 1889-90
3. Downtown Denver, 1898
This panoramic image was taken from the Colorado State Capitol Building, looking northwest down 16th Street.
4. Denver, 1907
A bird's-eye view of the city from South Broadway, showing the bygone neighborhoods of Harlem and Jacksons Broadway Heights.
5. The Bank Building, early 1900s
An image of the Bank Building with empty streets and charming horse-drawn carriages in the early 1900s.
6. City Park, 1907
The Burns Memorial in Denver's City Park is a bronze statue of poet Robert Burns, sculpted by artist Grant Stevenson and erected in the early 1900s.
7. The Chapel of Denver at Colorado's Riverside Cemetery, 1902
8. The Chamberlin Observatory, between 1898 and 1910
A man poses on the steps of the Chamberlin Observatory at Fillmore Street and Warren Avenue on the Campus of the University of Denver.
9. Prisoners at the State Penitentiary in Canon City, Colorado, between 1900 and 1910
"Homosexuals being punished by wearing dresses and wheeling heavy rocks."
10. Argo Gold Mine and Mill, 1912
This former gold mine and mill was built in Idaho Springs in 1912 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
11. Altman Farm, early 1900s
The Altman Farm was located on the east side of Buckley Road, half a mile south of 72nd Avenue in Denver.
12. Tabor Grand Opera House, between 1865 and 1900
Stereoscopic view of the Tabor Opera House, taken by photographer Charles Weitfle, (1836-1921)
13. Joseph A. Thatcher School, 1918
From the annual report of the Board of Education of School District Number One in the City and County of Denver, Colorado.
14. Manual-Training Shop, 1918
"Our pupils all love music. They are exceptionally good in art, cooking, sewing, and manual training. We have turned out some very fine work from our manual-training shop. The boys are particularly fond of this work, and sometimes, after finishing the eighth grade, they ask as a special favor to be allowed to do extra work in the shop. As many of our pupils do not enter high school, we strive to fit them to work and earn their own living when they finish the eighth grade."(From the annual report of the Board of Education of School District Number One in the City and County of Denver, Colorado).
15. The Denver Zephyr, 1930s
The Burlington Pioneer Zephyr "Dawn to Dusk Club" made its intial 1934 record breaking trip from Denver to Chicago. Here the group was gathered at Chicago's Union Station to mark the first trip of the Denver Zephyr for regular service between the two cities. (The photo was published on June 1, 1936, by the Chicago Tribune).
16. The Denver Ice and Cold Storage Company, 1936
Ice crusher and slinger mounted on an old Ford Model T Truck (TT) from the 1920s
17. 16th Street, 1945
16th Street with Daniels & Fisher Tower
18. Rocky Flats Plant, (circa 1988?)
The Rocky Flats Plant was "a United States nuclear weapons production facility near Denver, Colorado that operated from 1952 to 1992." Seen here is an aerial view of the plutonium fabrication section of plant.
Any Denver history buffs out there have additional historical images of the Mile High City? Let us know in the comments!