LoDo, Denver is the lower downtown area of Denver, Colorado, the oldest and original settlement of the city of Denver. It is a mixed-use historic district, known for its nightlife, and serves as an example of success in urban reinvestment and revitalization. The current population is 21,145.
Before European exploration of the area, Native Americans, particularly the Arapahoe tribe, had encampments along the South Platte River near or in what is now LoDo. In 1858, after gold was discovered in the river, General William Larimer founded Denver by putting down cottonwood logs in the center of a square mile plot that would basically be the current LoDo neighborhood. Therefore, LoDo is 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 Arapahoe tribe were paraded in victory.
As Denver grew, city leaders realized a railroad was needed to keep Denver a strong city, especially when the transcontinental railroad bypassed Denver for Cheyenne, Wyoming. In 1870, after much cajoling from town leaders, residents passed bonds that brought a 106-mile (171 km) rail spur from Cheyenne. This and later train lines ended up in the Central Platte Valley, adjacent to LoDo. Union Station became the place most people traveled into the city and LoDo would be the first part of the city they would see.
What was once a thriving business area was, by the mid twentieth century, a skid row. This was especially true after highways and airports took away from the importance of Union Station and train transportation. The original urban renewal plans were not realized, which would have leveled much of the area to create a multi-lane highway.
The Lower Downtown Historic District was formed by an act of City Council in March 1988, with the intention of encouraging the preservation and vitality of an area that is significant because of its architectural, historical, and economic value. The historic status granted protection to the community's historic resources and to 127 historic structures (approximately 20% of Lower Downtown's buildings were demolished in the 1960s and 70's) by enactment of a zoning ordinance.
It was during this time, that the neighborhood started to experience a renaissance. New businesses such as future Denver mayor and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's Wynkoop Brewery opened, and slowly LoDo became a destination neighborhood. By the time Coors Field opened on the edge of the LoDo Historic District in 1995, the area had begun to revitalize itself into a new, hip neighborhood filled with clubs, restaurants, art galleries, stores, bars, and other businesses. Pepsi Center, located on the other edge of the neighborhood, opened in 2000 and further encouraged the neighborhood to become a sport fan's paradise. New residential development came to LoDo, transforming old warehouses into pricey new lofts.
There are two boundaries for Lower Downtown Denver. The first is the legal, zoning boundary that encompasses the neighborhood known by the city of Denver as "Union Station:"
The second boundary is the social and economic boundary. This area is not delineated on a map, but represents LoDo's sphere of influence, and the relationships between the heart of LoDo and adjacent areas. This area includes the Auraria Campus, Riverfront Park, the Central Platte Valley, Prospect, Upper Larimer/River North, and the Ballpark neighborhoods. It is more difficult to draw a dividing line between Lower Downtown and the Central Business District, but several commercial real estate brokerages use Curtis Street as the boundary of the LoDo market segment.
Land in the Lower Downtown Historic District is zoned B-7, which includes building height limitations and encourages mixed-use development and provides strict design guidelines for rehabilitation and new construction. Projects must go through an architectural design review, which allows LoDo to retain its pedestrian scale and historic character as it continues to densify.
Wynkoop Brewing Company
The Wynkoop Brewing Company, a brewpub founded in 1988 by John Hickenlooper (the current Governor of Colorado) and partners Russell Schehrer, Mark Schiffler, and Jerry Williams, sponsors the "Beerdrinker of the Year" competition, which is hosted yearly in one of the banquet halls. The Wynkoop has a large billiards hall on its top floor, and the basement level is home to Impulse Theater, an improvisational comedy club.
Arts and culture
In the summer of 2006, LoDo hosted the cast members of MTV's popular reality show The Real World, as season 18: The Real World: Denver. Several movies have also been filmed, wholly or in part, in the neighborhood, including the Eddie Murphy film Nowhereland (2006). LoDo's combination of contemporary architecture sprinkled among historic buildings, beautiful mountain views, access to Cherry Creek and nearby parks, plus its proximity to two major sporting venues, make it an attractive location for television and movie filming.
The 70+ bars and restaurants in the historic district provide a positive economic impact for the city. However, late night violence, including a fatal shooting, has caused concern. The police are increasing foot patrols and asking private security officers to assist with the 2:00 am "let out" period. A security task force, made up of members of the public, Denver Police, neighborhood and business associations, and bar and club owners has convened to examine the issue.
The LoDo District, Inc., a non-profit neighborhood and business association, represents both the residential and commercial communities, and functions as a LoDo-specific chamber of commerce, visitors bureau, registered neighborhood organization, advocacy agent, and marketing entity. The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association, the residential association, is a non-profit organization committed to seeking quality living conditions amid the mixed uses of the Lower Downtown area.
Because of the numerous bars and clubs in the area, LoDo is also a popular location for the nightlife of Denver.
- Coors Field
- Pepsi Center
- Denver Union Station
- Platte Valley & Western Model Railroad, basement of Union Station
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver
- Children's Museum of Denver
- Elitch Gardens Amusement Park
- . City of Denver. Retrieved on December 10, 2007
- "Parker: Wynkoop lets ale out of bottle - The Denver Post". www.denverpost.com. 2009-08-23. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- "Beer News - Wynkoop Announces 2009 Beerdrinker of the Year Finalists". thefullpint.com. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- "Wynkoop Brewing Company - Denver's First Brew Pub - History". www.wynkoop.com. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
- "Other nightclub shootings in Denver". Denver Post. 2007-11-05.
- Family Mourns Man Killed In Nightclub Shooting - Denver News Story - KMGH Denver
- The LoDo District - The neighborhood and business association for Lower Downtown Denver. The LoDo District, Inc. is a 501(c) 3, membership organization that supports Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver’s unique historical, cultural, and retail neighborhood through marketing, education, and advocacy.
- The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association - The residential association for Lower Downtown Denver.