If you walk, or drive, around just about any neighborhood in Denver these days, it’s difficult not to notice the change that’s occurring. Fancy restaurants are popping up in parts of town where one typically wouldn’t find fancy restaurants. Traffic seems to be quite a bit heavier than it was this time last year (one hopes this is a result of the myriad road projects underway, not a permanent uptick in congestion). And condo and apartment buildings seem to be going up everywhere, from LoHi to RiNo to the Golden Triangle.
The centerpiece of this transformation—if that’s not too strong of a word—is the massive overhaul of Union Station and the creation of what amounts to an entirely new neighborhood to the west and north of the historic transportation center. A little more than five years ago, we moved offices from Curtis Street to our current location at 1515 Wazee Street, just two-and-a-half blocks from Union Station. At that time, the stately building felt like something of a missed opportunity: Despite the iconic orange lettering, Union Station was nothing like Grand Central in New York City or Union Station in Washington, D.C. Not only was it missing the grandeur of those storied train stations, but it was also mostly abandoned. Denver’s Union Station was just something you walked by on the way to one of the bars on Wynkoop Street.
That’s about to change. Although I can hear the construction from the window at my desk as I write this, the shiny new bus terminal is open, as are several of the restaurants on the southwest side of the development. There is a constant buzz of activity: The restaurants are busy, and the sidewalks are bustling. People always want to check out new places, but it feels as if there’s something bigger than that going on here. It’s almost as if there’s a communal want—or need—for the urban gathering place Union Station aspires to be. It was that tangible vibe that led us to explore the still-evolving project—and to give you an inside peek at what this massive undertaking will ultimately look like (“All Aboard,” page 110). When the venture is complete, there’s no doubt in my mind it will transform life in Denver as we know it—for the better.
Of course, as Denver evolves, so too does its longtime city magazine. For 21 years, 5280 has grown up with the city it covers, and much as Union Station’s rebirth feels like a groundbreaking moment in the city’s history, 5280 recently marked an important milestone of its own. In May, the magazine received three awards—for reader service, writer of the year, and excellence in writing—at the National City and Regional Magazine Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Although awards are not the metric by which we measure our successes, I am incredibly proud of the editorial team for earning these honors. And it’s (well deserved, in my opinion) recognition of the staff’s efforts and dogged determination to bring the best reporting, writing, and design to you, our readers.