Feature

City Spirit

June 2000

The alleys of Lower Downtown reflect the spirit of our city. Tucked away behind the scenes, these narrow corridors of crumbling brick, rusting dumpsters, and graffiti-spotted walls tell a comprehensive story of Denver. LoDo’s alleys speak of Denver’s history and future, rich and poor, chic and soiled. Since the beginning, they have witnessed the evolution of a city, and they weave a story that mirrors what is happening in the city today.

In the alleys, Denver’s history is captured in fading paint on chipping brick walls displaying advertisements from yesteryear. You can glimpse the future in the bony construction cranes that tower above large, deep holes. The city’s poor side is seen in homeless people sleeping in the dark alleys; the wealthier segment is demonstrated by a Jaguar pulling into a private garage. A discarded bottle of Wild Irish Rose in a muddy puddle reflects the soiled Denver. And you’ll spy the city’s chic side in the balcony of a fifth-story loft with a sweeping view of the Platte River Valley.

A negative aura surrounds alleys – people think of them as dark, dirty, and dangerous. Rarely do people venture into the alleys downtown, unless they’re on a cigarette break or taking out the trash. They fail to look beyond the mess or the ugliness. But in the aging brick walls and battered drainpipes there exists a subtle beauty, as in the wrinkled face of an elder.

The alleys are the forgotten side of what people see every day. They are the backstage to Denver’s booming nightlife. They are the driveways for countless loft owners filling old warehouse space. They are the lonely shelter of another homeless person watching the hustle of yet another Friday night pass by.