Sunday, February 1, 2009

17th and California

One of my hobbies includes looking for old pictures, papers and other ephemera associated with old Denver. A couple of years ago, I purchased a souvenir book called Denver by Pen and Picture. It dates from 1898 and has some wonderful pictures of buildings long gone from our memory and others more recently lost. The picture above actually has a couple of buildings that are still around.

The large prominent white building in the center of the picture is none other than the Equitable Building (1892) which still stands at the southeast corner of 17th and Stout. If you haven't been in the vestibule and inner lobbies of this building, you owe it to yourself to step inside and explore.

Across from the Equitable Building on the northeast corner of 17th and Stout stands a four story building known as the Albany Hotel (1885). This structure stuck around until 1977! What forces were in place to take this building down...I don't know. More research. I was only in kindergarten then. I do know it probably has something to do with the skyscraper in place today, the Johns Manville Plaza building. I just wonder if there was any move to save the Albany.

On the far left, along California Street at 16th, stands a dark brick building which still stands today, although you will not recognize it in this picture. The Hayden, Dickinson and Feldhauser Building (1891) underwent an Art Deco transformation in 1937 and was renamed the Colorado Building.

Frank Edbrooke's California Building (1892) stands at the southwest corner of 17th and California. I'm guessing it came down just prior to its replacement--the 1962 Formalist wonder known as Western Federal Savings. This was one of Denver's early skyscrapers and it still stands, although some of its Formalist elements have been removed. This linked picture from also shows the Equitable Building at the rear.

Appropriately, in the photo above, on the southeast corner of 17th and California, stands the Nevada Building. It is visible also at the photo at the top of this blog. It was replaced eventually by the Security Building, circa 1920.

Most intriguing I find are the homes, both large and small on the northwest corner of 17th and California, along with the carriages. The corner home is large and prominent and definitely a symbol for the past by 1898, as its days were numbered. Homes are also visible along Welton Street in the foreground. It is no surprise that Trinity Methodist Church would locate itself at 18th and Broadway in 1888 to take advantage of all of the people who lived nearby. This was a short-lived residential area however. The growing city along with the coming of the automobile forever changed the residential character of the downtown we know today. Incidentally, I haven't yet figured out who lived in the large home at this corner. I do know that by 1912, the house, if still standing or not, had a new neighbor across the street (on the northeast corner) in the form of the International Trust Company Building. It was torn down in 1974 and remains a plaza today.

This blog covers a number of blocks and buildings at the intersection of 17th and California. Click here to go to to learn more about the modern city present today at this location.

The top photo, as I stated, is from my private collection. The second photo is from the Denver Public Library's Western History Collection.

SPECIAL NOTE: I am currently looking for personal pictures from City Park, Whittier and the Capitol Hill areas of Denver for another research project I'm involved in. My time period of interest is prior to 1950. If you know of any personal collections of such items, please email me directly at