Monday, February 10, 2014

From Streetcars to Light Rail

West Colfax Trolley in 1949
     West Colfax Avenue was originally connected to central Denver by streetcar–the viaduct came later in the early 1900′s. That is how people traveled to Elitches on Sloan's Lake, for example. The new light rail re-establishes this important connection and the ease of commuting from West Colfax. The image above was taken in 1949 in front of 4500 West Colfax Avenue, the current location for the West Colfax Business Improvement District.
Colfax Trolley on Capitol Hill, early 1900's
     There aren't any trolleys running the length of Colfax Avenue today, but according to old-timers living in the area the original tracks still exist, they were just paved over. One trolley still exists on Colfax, however; the amazing Ghost Trolley sculpture in the Aurora Cultural Arts District, in the median between the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and Florence Square.

Trolley sculpture in the Aurora Arts District on Colfax Avenue
Plaque in Civic Center Park
     This plaque was presented to the City of Denver by the Colorado State Historical Society and the American Pioneer Trails Association on June 3, 1951, the day street cars were retired and the city's transit system was converted to rubber-tired vehicles. The street car served the city's transit needs for nearly 80 years starting with the horse car December 17, 1871. The plaque is placed here near the site, at the corner of Colfax and Broadway, of the large cable house which provided power for transit lines during the era when the Welton Street Line was one of the longest street car cable lines in the world (65,600 feet).
     Marker is in Denver, Colorado, on West Colfax Ave near Broadway, in the corner stand of the stone fence around Civic Center Park. Location. 39° 44.398′ N, 104° 59.282′ W.

     Today, more major changes are coming to West Colfax Avenue. Two of the biggest changes will occur from 2011-13: the opening of three new FasTracks West Corridor stations (as shown both individually below and in context with bicycle connections to Auraria, Lodo and downtown) and St. Anthony’s departure and redevelopment of its 19 acre site. The West Colfax Business Improvement District is working hard to ensure that changes will benefit current residents and increase the diversity of businesses and incomes in the neighborhood.

     Maybe someday the trolleys will return to East Colfax...

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