Business Spotlight: South Pearl Street
South Pearl Street is one of Denver’s most historical, charming, and popular shopping districts. Stretching from Buchtel to Jewell Avenues, our laid-back neighborhood features an eclectic mix of locally-owned merchants, shops, boutiques, restaurants and pubs, as well as seasonal events all year long.
In June of 1893, the Denver Tramway Company extended its trolley car line from Alameda to Jewell Avenues along South Pearl Street. A few years later, tracks were completed south to Evans Avenue and then east to service the growing University of Denver campus. The University soon became known as Tramway Tech and the building boom was on.
From 1900 through 1915 several multi-use buildings were completed along the thriving corridor. Growing neighborhoods needed retail and service-oriented businesses and soon barber and beauty shops, grocers, dry good stores, tailors, bakeries, pharmacies, five and-dime stores, mechanics' garages, movie houses, and diners were plying their trades all along South Pearl Street.
The stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression forced many to abandon their businesses. But as the neighborhoods continued to grow, new businesses would move in. After World War II, South Pearl Street began a revitalization that lasted into the late ‘50s and the electric trolley cars were replaced with rubber-wheeled trolley coaches.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, new regional shopping malls drew customers away from the smaller mom-and-pop businesses on Pearl Street. Borderline businesses found themselves struggling again and many were eventually abandoned.
But South Pearl would rise again. Attracted by inexpensive rental rates, artisans and eccentrics setup shop in the vacant storefronts. Painters, sculptors, and potters formed a loose association to promote their wares and their artistic energy marked the ‘70s on the street. As the economy rebounded, South Pearl Street attracted larger restaurants and pubs. Landmarks like Sushi Den and the Pearl Street Grill found their niche and flourished.
Today, Light Rail moves thousands of riders through the Pearl Street Station every day, and unique retailers, renowned eateries, trend-setting boutiques, personal service providers-and popular music festivals and weekend farmers' markets-make South Pearl Street a fun and funky experience.
South Pearl Street is the antidote to the modern mega-mall. Tree-lined blocks, diverse architecture, real people, one-of-a-kind stores with unique wares, and some of the city’s most popular night spots.