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The Bottoms Area History — Denver, Colorado

The Bottoms Area to me is the area roughly bordered on the West by the Platte River, the curving rail line intersecting with the 23rd Street Viaduct to the North, the Delgany St. Ramp to the East and the 20th Street Viaduct to the South. It is a very small area, 6 blocks square, just West beyond the back of Coors Field.
 
The towering Flour Mill Building, a ghostly looking building with its grey color and all the windows broken out, dominated the scene. 

An attempt was always made to keep the abandoned building sealed with sheets of plywood, but between hobos and youthful adventure seekers, the boards were regularly stripped away.


From old loading dock of Flour Mill Building looking N.E. towards Inca Street and now home to many loft projects.     1985

Inside, one stairwell led into the sturdy, concrete inner structure.  The way in was the only way out, and once inside and proceeding upwards to the top floors, it always made me nervous and unsettled.  Once, upon opening a huge fire door, I encountered a sleeping man at my feet. Startled, he quickly rolled over with a knife in his hand; I told him, sorry, I was only taking photographs, and headed upwards.


29th Avenue and Huron Street looking S.W.
towards the 20th Street Viaduct.     1986

Besides the Flour Mill building, there was a mixture of mostly small-sized warehouses and one large building with a faded "Dave Cook" sign high up on the south side. 

This building would later become the Watertower Lofts on Inca St.

An acquaintance of mine lived in a small one story building nearby. We would drink beer and laugh a lot. He made those pointed structures that "frame" one of my images of the Flour Mill building looking West.

Two blocks to the East was an unlikely oasis, The Skyline Cafe and Bar. its stucco exterior made a completely unassuming invitation, but once inside, a small bar and maze of barnwood-covered rooms emerged. With a jukebox bellowing rock and roll and Guinness on tap — a sun-parched photographer had found nirvana.


From 20th Street Viaduct looking N.W. Chestnut and Inca Streets. area is now home to many loft projects.     1985

Nearby was the Centennial School Supply Building and a small Kaminsky Barrel Company Building, one of several in area.  The Delgany Ramp ran parallel in front of it up to the 23rd St. Viaduct. At that junction, under the viaduct, was a tiny red bricked building enclosed by a high chain link fence and barb wire at the top.

Keep in mind this area was a no-mans land. The building was actually a home and two large dogs would roam the inside perimeter.  I would sometimes walk by, thinking of photographs, and the dogs would be waiting quietly until I was right on them, then bark ferociously at me, scaring me half to death.

Completing the loop, our walk west is directly under the 20th Street Viaduct, and we arrive at the Colorado Boiler Company.  The fenced building was then a welding shop and also defended by some mean and sneaky big dogs and — you guessed it — would also lay in wait for me as I approached...damn.

 - Kim Allen

 

 

 

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©Copyright 1983 Kim Allen Denver Photo Archives