A brief (100 year) history of Sixth Avenue

Categories: Sheehan (RIP)

littleindia.jpg"South Capitol Hill was booming in the early 20th century.  The area on the ridge south of Cheesman Park sloping toward the Country Club neighborhood rapidly emerged as a premier residential location as Denver recovered from the Panic of 1893.  Before long, distinguished houses dotted 7th Avenue.  Nearby were houses ranging from the dwellings of foremost bankers and corporate executives to aspiring members of the middle class.  In some cases, architects designed the residences as distinctive works of art; in other instances, master contractors built them for landlords." --"A Centennial History of 644-646 Marion Street" by Phil Goodstein

The above quote from the above essay starts off the text of Vignettes from South Central Denver, a tribute and historical study of Sixth Avenue by local geographer and professor Rudi Hartmann. I got a copy in the mail a couple of days ago, and though you'd think a centenary study of the different owners, builders and property developers at Sixth and Marion Street would be a snooze, I was pleasantly surprised to find it an engaging love letter from one man to his adopted neighborhood.

 Hartmann has owned and managed the duplex at 644-646 Marion for eighteen years, and "has been around in this neighborhood for quite a while," he told me when I called for more details. While his original intent was to just dig a little into the past of the 600 block of Marion -- "just a history," he said -- the project turned into a forty-plus page pamphlet that details the history of his own property (first permit pulled in 1907) and of the surrounding neighborhood.

"As we learned about the history," Hartmann told me, "we learned that it was connected to five or six other properties," and those five or six then had connections to others.

But what I found most interesting -- and also snagged Hartmann's attention -- was the development of Sixth Avenue's "Restaurant Row," that several-block stretch running from Little India (shown above, and home of our Best Indian Buffet in the Best of Denver 2007) at Grant to Barolo Grill at St. Paul.

With the help of Goodstein, his neighbors and the local business owners, what Hartmann came up with was a labor of love -- a comprehensive look at the changes this neighborhood has seen over the past century, complete with photos, maps (which must tickle the geographer in him) and menus from some of the Sixth Avenue establishments that make up Restaurant Row.

After finishing his pamphlet, he had 300 copies printed. Half of these were distributed to the neighbors and business owners. The other half, he's hanging on to for now -- hoping to get them into libraries, where his work will be kept for posterity.  But if you're interested in laying hands on a copy yourself, Hartmann can be contacted at rudi.hartmann@ucdenver.edu.  I'm sure he would be more than happy to oblige. -- Jason Sheehan


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