Old South Pearl: Around the Neighborhood
The Old South Pearl Shopping District, located on several blocks of South Pearl St. between Buchtel and Jewell Ave, is a favorite shopping destination of many Denverites.
In June of 1893, the Denver Tramway Company extended it’s trolley car line from Alameda to Jewell Avenue along South Pearl Street. A few years later, tracks were completed south to Evans and then east to service the growing University of Denver. The University of Denver quickly became known as Tramway Tech and the building boom was on. From 1900 to 1915 a number of multi-use buildings were completed along this burgeoning transportation corridor. The corner locations would command larger buildings with increased rental units. This eighteen block corridor became quickly dotted with both commercial and residential construction. During the 1950's the electric trolley cars were replaced with rubber wheeled trolley coaches. And in the late 1950's, Interstate 25 neatly bisected South Pearl Street. The federally funded Valley Highway Project would end the direct link between Alameda and Evans on South Pearl Street and would alter the character of the affected neighborhoods.
In the 1960's and 1970's large scale retailing came into vogue and regional shopping malls drew business away from South Pearl Street's smaller Mom and Pop operations. Much like the Great Depression years, borderline businesses were culled or abandoned. Storefronts stood empty and only a few of the service oriented businesses thrived. Attracted by inexpensive rental rates, a number of artisans began to occupy the vacant storefronts. These energetic painters, sculptors, and potters formed a loose association to promote their wares. Coupled with the existing merchants in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of South Pearl Street, a formalized association sprang into existence in 1978. In the Fall of 1978, the newly formed Old South Pearl Street Merchant’s Association (OSPSMA) hosted it’s first street fair.
Unprecedented growth marked the 1990's and the businesses along Old South Pearl Street were recipients of this largess. Vacancy rates hovered at zero and the many merchants thrived on the expanded foot traffic. Retail diversity hit new heights and vibrant and exciting eateries joined the proven favorites.
Even with the global problems and local issues that marked the millennium, the second century on Old South Pearl Street has been greeted with optimism and excitement. With the new T-Rex highway expansion completed, light rail now moves thousands of riders daily through the new Louisiana - Pearl Street Station. Yet, no matter how dizzying the pace of the world becomes, one can always hearken back to a simpler time with a leisurely stroll on Old South Pearl Street.
Rich Delanoy, who contributed this History, is a long time member of Old South Pearl Street Association and serves on the board of directors for the Platt Park People’s Association.
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- The Neighborhood is located south of downtown Denver, just off the Washington St. Exit of I-25.
- The business district runs from Buchtel Blvd. (north end) to E. Jewel Ave. (south end).
- The main intersection is at S. Pearl St. and E. Florida Ave.
- Get driving directions from Google Maps.
Bike, Bus, and Light Rain Info.
- Bike routes D-9 & D-18 come in to the neighborhood.
- Bus routes 11 & 12 come into the neighborhood.
- Light rail lines H, E, and F stop at the Louisiana-Pearl station.
- Denver Bike Route Map (City of Denver)
- Denver Bike Maps & Resources (BikeDenver.org)
- Cherry Creek Trail System Map (Google)
- Denver B-cycle Station Maps (Bike Sharing Program)
- Bus Routes, Fares, and Schedule Info. (RTD Denver)
- Light Rail System Maps & Fare Info. (RTD Denver)
- eGo Car Share (Car Sharing Program)