History of Ballpark in Lower Downtown Denver, Colorado
Ballpark is located in Lower Downtown Denver and is bound by 20th Street to the south, Glenarm Street to the east, 26th Street to the north, and Delgany to the west.The southern end of the neighborhood is anchored by Coors Field, and stretches almost 20 blocks to the north into a section of Downtown that is still very much a functioning warehouse and light industry district.
Prior to European exploration of the area, Native Americans, particularly the Arapaho tribe, established encampments along the South Platte River near or in what is now LoDo. In 1858, after the discovery of gold in the river, General William Larimer founded Denver by putting down cottonwood logs in the center of a square mile plot that would eventually be the current LoDo neighborhood, making LoDo both the original city of Denver, as well as its oldest neighborhood. Then, like now, LoDo was a bustling and sometimes wild area known for its saloons and brothels. During the Sand Creek Massacre, it was LoDo where the heads of the slaughtered Arapaho tribe were paraded in victory.
The Lower Downtown Historic District, known as LoDo, was created by the enactment of a zoning ordinance by Denver City Council in March 1988. The resolution's intent was to encourage historic preservation and to promote economic and social vitality in Denver's founding neighborhood at a time when it still held significant historic and architectural value. The status granted by this special designation provided protection to the community's archivable resources and to the 127 contributing historic structures that remained after roughly 20% of Lower Downtown's buildings had been demolished through DURA policies in the 1960s and 1970s. LoDo's historic district ordinance includes zoning that restricts building height and encourages mixed-use development. It stipulates strict design guidelines for rehabilitation and new construction.
Now a historic district, most of Ballpark's original industrial buildings still stand today. During its peak, this area revolved around Denver’s rail line, with warehouses and factories all catering to train-related activities. As this part of Downtown grew alongside the railroad tracks that carried goods and raw materials into Denver’s industrial market, waves of immigrants – Italian, Irish, Japanese, Chinese and, more recently, Mexican – left their own unique stamp on the area.
Here you’ll find many brick buildings that still sport train and truck loading docks on their street frontages. In 2002, the Ballpark Historic District was formed for much of the Ballpark area to preserve many of the historic warehouses and buildings that define this great neighborhood’s historical uses. It is a part of the oldest neighborhood in Denver, and is often called ‘the birthplace of Denver.’ Residents here also feel they are at the center of the heartbeat of Denver.
Ballpark is filled with so many amazing things to do. 5280 magazine called the transformation of Union Station ‘the world’s first multi-modal transit hub, an unprecedented achievement in urban planning and design.’ You can’t walk a block without running into a new restaurant or business that lures you in with something new. Just walking the neighborhood is an event in itself. With annual festivals, pop-up parks, and Rockies games you can find something to do any day of the week anytime of year.
In the past five years, Denver has experienced a monumental boom resulting in rapid change, growth, and development throughout the metro area. With it’s continued industrial charm and development of new activities and businesses (like the pop-up park on 22nd Street or the new barbershop), Ballpark will continue to lead the path of neighborhood development in Denver.