Barnum Dog Park: off-leash area with great views of downtown

For our four-legged companions check out Barnum Dog Park, one of Denver’s 11 publicly-sanctioned dog parks. It’s located where 5th dead-ends into Barnum Park at Hooker St.. The off-leash area is unfenced, but spacious, and the area offers a great view of downtown and backs up to a pond with a walking trail. There is a picnic pavilion and a tight-knit crowd of regulars with friendly animals. It’s a convenient option for letting your dog stretch its legs without having to drive out of town.

Pit bulls are not allowed, there are fines for dogs off-leash outside the park, and you should bring your own water. Save these few details, it’s a good spot for an afternoon walk.

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Business in Barnum: The Columbine Steakhouse

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The Columbine is one of a dying breed of no-frills restaurants that serve working class families a good, honest meal at a decent price. Walking through the door at the Columbine is like stepping back into the 60′s. They basically do four things at the Columbine: steaks, baked potatoes, iceberg salads, and texas toast. They also serve burgers, fried chicken and fish, and grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids. There’s no table service. Everything is ordered cafeteria style from the cook who’s about to make it. There’s a bar on the other side of the restaurant with seating as well. Even with as mature as the Denver food scene is becoming, there are still only a handful of places to have a good steak at a good price without all fuss. It’s about the meat here, and there’s something beautiful about that.

300 Federal Blvd
Denver, CO 80219

Walking distance from Barnum Park!

The Story of Barnum

The Denver Library has a really nice, in-depth history of the Barnum neighborhood as part of their Creating Communities project.

Barnum’s history is one of a quiet development over more than a century, although not for lack of a strong sense of community. As the journalist and historian Robert Autobee observes, Barnum’s struggle in the shadow of Denver’s often different priorities, and its corresponding sense of community occasioned by the city’s neglect of older neighborhoods, has shaped the neighborhood’s identity. Although the City of Denver draws a distinction between Barnum, bounded by Sixth Avenue (north), Federal Boulevard (east), Alameda (south), and Perry Street (west), and the contiguous and parallel Barnum West that extends to Sheridan Boulevard, residents of Denver’s other westside neighborhoods have been known to appropriate Barnum’s scrappy reputation for themselves, and self-identify as residents. Or so some Barnum residents proudly say. Barnum, like Curtis Park, Park Hill, or Montclair, began as a nineteenth-century Denver suburb. But, unlike those neighborhoods, Barnum developed as a haven for working-class families. While never affluent, Barnum has been more prosperous than many other westside Denver neighborhoods, a home for families of modest means, with a sense of pride and identity that has continued even as its faces have changed over the course of the twentieth century.

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Light Rail Station: Coming Soon!

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Barnum is about to become much more connected to the greater Denver area! In a little over 4 months, light rail stations will be opening at Sheridan Blvd., Perry St., and Knox Blvd., allowing Barnum residents to ride all the way into downtown, or as far west as Golden in minutes! The current system is a very convenient way to get around town. The trains are comfortable, fares are affordable, and trains run at all hours, day and night. The trains move significantly faster than buses, so choosing mass transit over driving makes more sense for more people. Stations are situated in easily walkable areas with good bicycle path access, so traveling to the station from our homes will be easier than ever.

From RTD’s site:

The West Rail Line is a 12.1-mile light rail transit corridor located between the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver and the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden. It will serve Denver, Lakewood, the Federal Center, Golden and Jefferson County.  The West Rail Line is the first FasTracks corridor under construction and will be the first to open on April 26, 2013.

The West Rail Line travels through a series of parks in Denver on the east end of the alignment, through residential neighborhoods along 13th Avenue in Lakewood, through the Lakewood Industrial Park, onto the Federal Center site, and along 6th Avenue to the Jefferson County Government Center on the western end of the project.

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(source: city-data.com)

This is really good news for a variety of reasons. First of all, commutes for Barnum residents will be drastically reduced. The current commute time for resident of Barnum is an average of 20 minutes. Riding the light rail allows commuters to relax during this time, read the paper, chat with neighbors, and get ready for the work day. It will reduce stress levels and lead to a healthier and more productive workforce. Car maintenance and fuel costs will be reduced and lead to more savings for this neighborhood of young, working-class families. What a great service!

There will be less impact on our environment with fewer cars on the road and less traffic congestion to deal with. Traffic on Sheridan and Colfax in the mornings and evenings is always hectic. The light rail line should drastically reduce the number of cars on the roads during peak commute times.

Perhaps the best part is what it could do for Barnum’s redevelopment. In recent years, we have seen real estate prices jump in a number of areas close to downtown such as the Highlands neighborhood and Baker. Southern suburbs such as Centennial and Englewood are booming due in large part to light rail access. With Barnum’s close proximity to downtown, affordable housing, and now easy access to light rail, expect to see a housing boom in Barnum.

For more info, check out RTD’s web site

Why “Barnum”?

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The first thing many people think of when they hear the word Barnum is obviously P.T. Barnum, the famous circus promoter behind the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. And for good reason! Barnum purchased 760 acres of Denver real estate in 1882 as a place to winter his circus. Though he never actually resided in the area, he did leave his mark, naming many of the streets in the area after famous people whom he admired. For further reading on P.T. Barnum’s Denver connections, check out Howdy, Sucker! What P.T. Barnum Did in Colorado Ida L. Uchill (Pioneer Peddler Press, 2001).

Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, scam artist and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, “I am a showman by profession…and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me,” and his personal aims were “to put money in his own coffers.” Barnum is widely, but erroneously, credited with coining the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Born in Bethel, Connecticut, Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly newspaper, before moving to New York City in 1834. He embarked on an entertainment career, first with a variety troupe called “Barnum’s Grand Scientific and Musical Theater,” and soon after by purchasing Scudder’s American Museum, which he renamed after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the ‘”Feejee” mermaid’ and “General Tom Thumb.” In 1850 he promoted the American tour of singer Jenny Lind, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights.

After economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, and years of litigation and public humiliation, he used a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, to emerge from debt. His museum added America’s first aquarium and expanded the wax figure department.

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over slavery and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.” As mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut he worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and to enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.

The circus business was the source of much of his enduring fame. He established “P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome,” a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of “freaks,” which adopted many names over the years.

Barnum died in his sleep at home on April 7, 1891 and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a cemetery he designed.  (from Wikipedia article on P.T. Barnum)

Getting Started

My wife and I bought a house this year in Barnum, and we started doing some research on the neighborhood’s history. While there’s not much out there, I thought a site like this that compiled all of it in one place would be very useful to residents as well as prospective buyers. I will be blogging about real estate trends, the history of the area, notable residents, local businesses, and whatever else strikes me as interesting.