16th Street Mall is no party, says one critic

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The 16th Street Mall turned thirty yesterday, and it's looking better than it has in years, with the best yet to come as work continues on the Union Station project. The mall's official birthday celebration will be Tuesday at Skyline Park -- but some critics won't be coming to the party.

While researching the history of the mall for this week's cover story, we came across a review of the 16th Street Mall by Lamont C. of Denver on tripadvisor.com, posted September 18:

"16th Street Mall: Disgusting Tourist Trap Full of Homeless People, Abandoned Store Fronts, Drug Dealers, Bootleggers"

When I was a wee-laddie, I used to be fascinated with slums and run-down ghetto areas. After all, I was born in upstate New York.

Why were they like that? I used to wonder. Why were so many places abandoned? Why were there so many drunks and homeless people and bodies lying on sidewalks, plastered with vomit and urine?

Wonder no more! You now have Denver Colorado's Ultimate Wasteland, the 16th Street Mall!

Want to watch cop after cop do absolutely nothing for hours? Go to the 16th Street Mall, as they waddle slowly past or lean against buildings watching once-green grass turn brown, giant dripping sandwiches in one hand and boiling-lava cups of street joe (also known as ground dirt by locals) in the other.

Watch as prostitutes, street urchins, vagabonds, bootleggers with legitimate booths selling knockoffs, and thousands of urine-drenched homeless people plead for jobs they will never get or beg tourists for pennies so they may yet survive in this post-apocalyptic desert of sharply-shattered dreams.

The 16th Street Mall is not a mall per se, so much as it is a giant festering blister on the tuchis of Colorado, that is open and raw, bold as daylight for everyone to see.

There are abandoned stores, bar after putrid bar every few feet or so, tourist postcard store after another.

The only reasonably clean section is the Denver Pavilions Mall, which is full of wandering armies of the night nonetheless, over-priced chain stores you'd find at any other mall, and a few restaurants.

Jazz at Jack's is reasonably clean, wildly over-priced, serves microwaved frozen meals, and has one of the most godawful house bands known to mankind, appropriately named as Dot Zero (just extremely depressing, canned elevator "jazz" that can literally lull anyone into an instant narcoleptic stupor).

Will Denver's 16th Street Mall ever bee renovated? No.... If it were going to be renovated, wouldn't it be under development now? Well, trust me, it is NOT under development...unless you consider cemeteries, ghost towns, abandoned buildings, areas filled with vomiting prostitutes, homeless people dressed in torn and ripped thrift store cast outs, bar after bar, shoplifters galore, and urine-soaked streets (covered with chunky, sticky substances every ten feet or so), pickpockets, bodies lying on concrete walkways and lurking ominously in darkened allies, and a giant state capitol with a golden dome atop it looming in the distance.

And finally, if you take public transportation to the 16th Street Mall in the evenings and nights - be prepared to encounter violent arguers on either bus or light rail, drunks and homeless people wiping their bloody noses and fecal matter on seat covers (with of course no security of any kind anywhere), as zombie-like, blankly staring drivers continue onward with minimal motion, people screaming "N-word" this and "N-word" that, cursing and gesticulating at hallucinations.

If you'd like to drive to the 16th Street Mall, good luck. Parking does does not exist here, unless you pay $10-$15 per hour at one of the few subterranean, steam-heated garages that smell so bad they literally make you feel like weeping in disgust -- smells like human remains and unwashed hiney mixed with Chinese food.

If you want to go to the 16th Street Mall, be my guest....Like good taste and decorum in Denver, Colorado.... I'm out.

Whew! What's your view of the mall? Post it below, or in the comments section of this week's cover story documenting our own 16th Street Mall crawl.

At the end of May, the city banned overnight camping anywhere in Denver. Read about it in the Jef Otte feature story "For the homeless, 'urban camping' is no picnic."


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5 comments
Atomic
Atomic

Awww... I love the Shoe Shine King. :/

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

The most bizarre aspect of the Mall has got to be the obsession with its paving blocks, requiring incessant work to repair and replace.  The cost of keeping the special blocks in place must be enormous, because a prodigious amount of time has been spent working on it (late into the night on at least one occasion I observed) over the course of the past year.

TransitDesigner
TransitDesigner

The biggest design misfeature of the 16th Street Mall is that it exists.

 

Rather than concentrating everything on one single street, a better urban design would expand outward, taking advantage of 14th to 18th streets by replacing the shuttle buses with a trolley system using 15th as the westbound corridor and looping over to 17th for eastbound.

thespot84
thespot84

Just ask yourself this. Would you buy your mother an apartment on the mall?

gerbera
gerbera

Wow not sure what planet this guy is posting from, but the Mall, despite all its problems, is pretty nice. Parking at the Pavillions is clean, and $7 all day on the weekends; the garage at 16th and Champa is $6 all day on the weekends. Meters are $2 for 2 hours. There is a bit of a wasteland from Welton west to Champa; but the east and west ends of the mall are hopping with shops and restaurants. The annoying shoeshine man at Welton has been moved off the mall with his leering comments at women somewhat stifled. Two great Colorado Athletic Club locations, one at Welton and one at Tabor Center. Share bikes galore. What more do you want?

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