Western History/Genealogy Department at Denver Public Library Recommends…
Must See Historical Sites
1701 Wynkoop Street
Denver’s Union Station has been watching people come and go from the Mile-High City since 1868, but is sporting a decidedly modern look these day. Thanks to a massive renovation, the venerable old train station is enjoying a new life as home to numerous retail outlets, restaurants and a brand new hotel. Renovation or not, Denver’s Union Station, and its Great Hall, is a site that’s well worth visiting.
My Brother’s Bar
2376 15th Street
Widely regarded as Denver’s longest continually operating bar, My Brother’s Bar definitely qualifies as a local legend. This old watering hole has played host to plenty of hungry and thirsty Denver residents and visitors, including Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac. Be sure to try their famous jalapeno-cream cheese on a burger or as a dip for your fries.
1626 Wazee Street
In a world of cookie-cutter chain stores, Rockmount Ranchwear stands out as a true Colorado original. This legendary seller of cowboy wear is credited with inventing the snap-pocket cowboy shirt and the first bolo ties that were available on a commercial level.
1000 Osage Street
Tucked away in one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, the Buckhorn Exchange offers up a true taste of Colorado’s western culinary heritage. The Buckhorn’s menu is heavy on game meats and they’re best known for their delicious buffalo steaks and rattlesnake appetizers.
Allen True Murals
Civic Center Park at 14th & Broadway
Renaissance Hotel at 918 17th Street
Originally hailing from Colorado Springs, Allen True (1881–1955) was an accomplished muralist who left his mark across the Centennial State. True’s works at Civic Center Park and Colorado National Bank Building (now home to the Renaissance Hotel) are a must-see for anyone who appreciates large scale depictions of the American West.
The Brown Palace
321 17th Street
Denver’s grandest hotel features a spectacular atrium and a regal atmosphere that belies its deep roots in the old West. Built in 1892, the Brown has hosted every US President except Coolidge and Obama and was Dwight Eisenhower’s Western White House. (Elvis Presley frequently visited the Brown where he enjoyed fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.) If you’re lucky enough to visit during Stock Show season, you might even get to see a prize-winning steer lounging in the Brown Palace lobby.
Navarre Building/American Museum of Western Art
1727 Tremont Place
Across the street from the Brown Palace stands the Navarre Building and (at least) a building’s worth of history. Over the years the building has played host to a girls school; a notorious brothel; a less-notorious Italian restaurant; and currently hosts the American Museum of Western Art. The museum is open to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays and is well worth the trip.
1600 17th Street
When it opened in 1891, the Oxford Hotel was represented the apex of the 19th Century hospitality industry. The hotel included its own power plant, barbershop, and a pair of spectacular four-foot-high marble urinals. After surviving some pretty lean years (before LoDo became LoDo) the Oxford Hotel is as spectacular a hotel as it’s ever been and is a real treat for anyone with a taste for classic hotel design. Visitors can still marvel at a beautiful collection of iron railings, stained glass windows and silver chandeliers. And, gentlemen, those two marble urinals, located on the basement level restroom, are as impressive as ever.
The Cruise Room
1600 17th Street
Modeled after a lounge on the Queen Mary, was Denver’s first official post-Prohibition bar and the room still carries a sense of that joy to this day. The red-lit room is lined with gorgeous frescos and the bar makes some of the most authentic cocktails you’ll find anywhere in town.
Capitol Rotunda and 5280’ Step
200 E. Colfax Avevue
From the outside, Colorado’s regal state capitol is a shimmering expanse of gold leaf that celebrates our state’s deep mining heritage. From the inside, the capitol dome is no less impressive. The building’s interior is lined with Rose Onyx, the only building in the world to this unusual stone, and is lined with murals that detail Colorado’s illustrious history. If you want to stand exactly one mile above sea level, get yourself to the Capitol’s 13th step and ignore all the other mile-high markers.
Bonus! Denver Public Library’s Western History/Genealogy Department
Come explore Denver’s history through our collection! From the first and last editions of the Rocky Mountain News to original artwork from Remington and Bierstadt to the papers of infamous Denver madam, Mattie Silks, we’ve got something for everyone. Be sure to check out “Spirit of the West,” Michael Graves’ iconic structure found in the Gates Reading Room.