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Platte Street

About Platte Street

Platte Street has a deep, sometimes dark, and rich history among those who grew up in Denver.  Home to Denver’s oldest continually operating bar, My Brother’s Bar, at 15th and Platte (whose real-life sibling, the Wazee Supper Club resided at 15th and Wazee), and Paris on the Platte (now Carbon Café & Bar and Habit Doughnut Dispensary), the street has always been special.  Like much of downtown Denver, Platte was flanked on both the north and south by viaducts at 15th and 16th Street until the early 1990’s.  From 1995 to 2006, the corner of 15th and Platte was where you’d find Shakespeare’s (and many a local), a venerable pool hall that was forced to close due to rising rents and changing demographics.  This was a story that continues through today.  With Dead Battery Club, as with Carbon Café & Bar and Habit Doughnuts, we felt it was critically important to the community, and to the historians of Denver, that we honor the past while creating great places for Denverites to gather today.

Until 1994, this was a connection to one of the elevated roadways that spanned miles of the central city. “The viaducts” shadowed Lower Downtown for nearly the entire 20th century, a modern wonder that first connected, then starved the heart of the city.

“It’s almost like a cathedral type of environment,” said photographer Mark Kiryluk, thinking back to the images he captured of people adrift in the city’s underbelly. “You’ve got this huge viaduct — and below it there’s just this quiet spot.”

There’s hardly any trace of them today, but the story of their rise and fall captures three distinct changes in Denver’s history. From groundbreaking transit infrastructure to maligned scourge of downtown, this is the story of Denver’s viaducts.

The first viaduct, illustrated above, allowed the city’s horse-drawn streetcars to cross the rail lines and the South Platte, making Argo just an easy hour’s commute from downtown. (Insert traffic joke here.)

The city followed soon after with the first version of the 16th Street viaduct, which lifted off at Wazee Street and vaulted 3,700 feet through lower downtown and over the rails and river to touch down on Platte Street

Photographer Kim Allen writes, “Walking and photographing was clearly planted in the present – my subject matter was considered to be of the past.  I knew the intersection of old and new would occur in Denver.  Lower downtown was the heart of early Denver – it would be reborn!”