On the west side of downtown
Denver, a system of viaducts were engineered
to span the vast Platte Valley. The valley,
bordered by the Platte River on one side and
downtown on the other, was occupied largely
railroads for supply lines for the entire
The viaducts I
photographed were: Lawrence Street, Speer
Boulevard, 15th Street, 16th Street, 20th
Street, 23rd Street, and Brighton Boulevard.
The viaducts were busy with travel above the
large fields below. Most of the activity
under them at ground level had seen its
glory days. The era of the railroads, which
had replaced horses and wagons, was now a
fading memory as well.
The viaducts were like
spokes, or fingers, leading in and out of
Denver. On top of the viaducts, long
expanses of roadway offered views of the
city and mountains. One could look at the
vacant land below and the sparse remains of
warehouses, and be amazed that such a large
area was mostly deserted.
As a photographer. walking on the ground
below these large powerful structures was
rewarding. I could easily
get around the entire valley virtually
unimpeded. Beautiful fields, mostly
quiet, were punctuated with these long and
strong concrete and steel marvels. Some
buildings still remained at each end of the
viaducts, mostly on the downtown side.
Put on your walking shoes
or boots and we will take a little journey.
The 15th Street Viaduct
had the most energy because it was the only
viaduct that had a paved road open to normal
automobile traffic. On one end was The Post
Office Terminal Annex (operating at the
time) and the Wazee Super Club with My
Brothers Bar, on the opposite end, were
anchors and entertainment for the eclectic.
The Monarch Mills Building was under and
near the middle of the viaduct, but it would
soon be demolished and be the site of the
new MCA. The small, and still present,
Moffat Train Station stood nearby, lonely
All of the viaducts
offered natural framed views of the
buildings. The strong vertical and
horizontal lines of the viaducts were capped
by soft curves at the top. The mixture of
beauty and strength was captivating
to me. The sun steamed down on the viaduct
tops, creating wonderful, dark shadows of
The 16th Street Viaduct
was at the south end of Union Station and
provided passage for that immediate area. It
was close to the back of the station and
ended downtown near what is now the Tattered
Cover Bookstore and Dixons Restaurant.
The 20th Street Viaduct
spanned the "Bottoms" area on the west and
ended at the Firemen's Grain Building at
Blake Street, now the site of the main entrance
to Coors Field. Union Pacific Headhouse
nearby is now the Chophouse Restaurant.
The 23rd Street Viaduct (now
Park Avenue West) was at the north end of what
is now Coors Field. Breckenridge Brewery was
converted from an old vacant warehouse and
thankfully several new loft projects now
occupy the area.
Brighton Boulevard Viaduct was
the last viaduct, remote in those days.
Starting at Broadway to the East and turning
into Brighton Boulevard, it spanned part of the
valley and went north to the Denver Coliseum. Now the area is an emerging
community for art
All of the viaducts had a
distinct role for their respective area.
They were great to photograph as a tribute
to our past architectural and engineering
- Kim Allen