Top

news

Stories

 

"I can't see my breath yet," she says. "See?"

For the last couple of months, Lucy has slept under an I-25 overpass, though she is careful not to specify which one. She used to sleep in what she still refers to as her "normal home": the protected nooks of the 16th Street Mall. Now, when her eyes grow heavier, she knows it's time to move on — and away from the mall. That's a hard-and-fast rule for her now, she says; before it was "more like a suggestion."

By "before," she means before Denver's urban-camping ban took effect on May 29 and police officers began to enforce the ordinance, which effectively upgraded the city's sit-lie ordinance, making it illegal to camp on any public or private property in Denver without permission. Since then, Lucy has not attracted any police attention, which she attributes to two things: She doesn't want any, and, she says, "I don't look homeless. I keep it that way."

But she does sleep on the streets. According to the city's enforcement protocol for the new ordinance, the signs that someone is camping include sleep, shelter and food, and the decision to pass the ban — a decision that split Denver City Council — came with considerable controversy. Opponents framed the issue as a means of criminalizing extreme poverty, while supporters insisted that it would improve both local businesses and the lives of those who slept in front of them.

In the ban's early days, Mayor Michael Hancock, a staunch member of the second camp, praised its benefits, telling Westword that some of the people who formerly slept on Denver's streets and sidewalks have returned to their homes and families as a result. "For some people like me, that might be true," Lucy guesses. But for her, it's not: Instead of becoming a prodigal daughter, she has opted instead to move farther from the public eye, at least when she does anything that could be considered "camping or anything like that," she says. "I mean, I'm certainly not shopping." Kelsey Whipple

*******

Inside a tiny, dimly lit room hidden in the back of the Paramount Theatre, at the corner of 16th and Glenarm, piles of dusty artifacts — ancient ticket machines, giant projectors, decades-old turntables, faded newspaper clippings — attest to the building's long tenure in the heart of downtown. "Some day, I think it'd be neat to make a museum out of this stuff," says Ian Marzonie, the Paramount's production and facility manager, standing inside what the staff calls the "Antique Room."

In a room next door, the place certainly has enough history to fill a museum.

"When you go from having [dozens of] theaters in downtown to one remaining, it's a testament to the people that looked around at that time and said, 'Hey, this is worth preserving; this is worth keeping,'" says John Scheck, who works in the booking department of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, which bought the structure in 2002.

The breathtaking, nearly 2,000-seat space was designed by architect Temple Buell, and today it retains many of the art-deco design elements that made it such a landmark when it debuted in 1930. The facade consists of pre-cast concrete blocks and glazed terra cotta moldings; the interior features large Vincent Mondo murals surrounded by ornate gold and bronze frames.

The very first film shown here was Let's Go Native, back on August 29, 1930. Marzonie has a giant scrapbook in his office that includes a newspaper ad touting the showing: "Tomorrow at 7 p.m.... A NEW ERA will dawn in the entertainment history of Denver.... Nowhere in the world is there a theatre where the miracles of science created such wonders in entertainment...voice, with lifelike realism from the living screen...symphonic colors with the mood of pictures...beauty, luxury, comfort in this most modernistic theatre."

Fast-forward half a century to a time when the Paramount — and downtown Denver itself — was at a major crossroads. The owners were looking to sell the theater, which was still showing movies, and only movies; Historic Denver, the non-profit preservationist group that had been formed a decade earlier to save the Molly Brown House, ended up buying it in 1981. Although the Paramount was already on the National Register of Historic Places, that didn't protect it from possible demolition. The Historic Denver purchase did, however, and it continued to operate the space, booking live performances as well as films.

"The intention was to preserve it as a physical landmark, but also to preserve it as a theater," says Annie Levinsky, the current executive director of Historic Denver. "It was one of the only remaining theaters in downtown."

At the same time, the development of the 16th Street Mall was under way, and the Paramount was to play a pivotal role. "The mall would take advantage of the historic buildings in the sense of creating human-scale intimate space," says Levinsky. As a result, today the Paramount "is one of the great icons of downtown Denver and one of the few that does operate in exactly the way it was intended."

Even the Wurlitzer twin-console organ, designed to accompany silent movies and one of only two of its kind remaining in the country, operates exactly the way it was originally intended. More than 1,600 pipes generate all kinds of orchestral and percussive sounds, along with a diverse array of special effects.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
47 comments
OverIt
OverIt

30 years ago is was great; even 20 years ago is was great.  Now...does anyone look around when they come down here?  Curtis and up is terrible, and that's during the workday.  Forget about coming down on a Sunday afternoon.  If you have a family or anything valuable it's often just scary to be hanging out on the mall.  The LoDo side of the mall...a bit better but still not great.

 

And the whole length is just dated and makes me feeling like it's 1992.  The expense of regular maintenance or a makeover are too high (and we pay for it as taxpayers, not the vendors and property owners proximate to the mall).

 

Time to turn it back into a regular street.  It has run its course.

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

I remember laying there with an officer's knee on my neck and the other tightening down the cuffs like he was torquing a lug nut. Ah, the good old days.

Tenzin Tsering
Tenzin Tsering

Hardcore parkouring every small obstacle in my path.

twisst260
twisst260

@new_clear_DAZE A very bright ISS will cross your sky tonight. It comes up in the South at 7:57 pm. Details: http://t.co/Jjgkl4Dq

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

if you'd like to see your comment published in the print edition as a letter to the editor (with your real name), e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com

WestGuest
WestGuest

16th Street was cool, before the mall.  Thanx for the nostalgia, Alan!

as far as panhandlers, they're outnumbered 10 to 1 by the people

soliciting for their "causes".  but if all you need is a souvenir t-shirt,

this is your spot.

Ozzie Perch
Ozzie Perch

I remember driving down it just one way...now my buses are cruising it!cool!

Caleb Mather
Caleb Mather

Junkies n' panhandlers are my personal fave

Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy

Is the 180 cameras...police on: horse...segway...motorcycles....bicycles....foot....undercover too...so yeah...it is safe...that is my favorite part. If someone shoots you..they will know who did it.

Joe Matrone
Joe Matrone

what joktan said... 16th st is one of my least parts of Denver

Fred Kaplan
Fred Kaplan

Favorite thing about the 16th St. Mall is avoiding it.

Joktan Rogel
Joktan Rogel

I can't decide between overeager petitioners and smoke being blown in my face. It's a really tough call.

Lisa Wolf DeWitt
Lisa Wolf DeWitt

al fresco dining...before dark and the unsavory folks start roaming the streets

Wehavesir
Wehavesir

Seriously, it's not even that bad! Have you ever been to south side Jamaica Queens or Compton? The 16th street mall is not ghetto whatsoever, even late at night. Be more scared of the drunk lodo jock-types bar hopping than the homeless. Geesh 

Keloid
Keloid

The 16th Street Mall: A transient toilet and gangbanger outreach program that never met a wig shop it didn't like. World class, Denver! WORLD-FUCKING-CLASS!

basecamper
basecamper

@DowntownDenver @DenverWestword The mall is a scary mess filled with second rate shops, panhandlers and strung out teen runaways. Buzz?

Keloid
Keloid

Well, thanks to Hancocks camping ban, all your shit seems to be rolling uphill to us. I'll be sure to point em back to where they belong, so your gem of the west doesn't lose it's local flavor.

Spliffy
Spliffy

You wrote LMAO? Seriously? What the fuck, are you a fourteen year old girl texting about her new tween boyfriend or Bieber CD? SERIOUSLY? You SERIOUSLY wrote LMAO? Thanks for chiming in for the sanctimonious douche canoe contingent.

sux2Bstupid
sux2Bstupid

 @Sux2BU

 

 Definition for pleb from the Oxford English Dictionary: plebeian: one of the common people.

 

plebe/plēb/Noun:A newly entered cadet or freshman, esp. at a military academy.

 

Go get yourself a real dictionary.

 

 

sux2Bstupid
sux2Bstupid

 @Sux2BU

 Yes, and because Keloid spelled pusillanimous correctly, that makes him some kind of genius?

 

Here's the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary: pu·sil·lan·i·mous/ˌpyo͞osəˈlanəməs/Adjective:Showing a lack of courage or determination; timid.

 

Maybe you'd better explain how BackOffImStarving's comments were lacking in courage?

 

I think you have no clue what you're talking about. The Urban Dictionary? You attached a link to the Urban Dictionary?!? That's hilarious.

sux2Bstupid
sux2Bstupid

 @Sux2BU

 You attached a link to the Urban Dictionary? Seriously? LMAO.

Factually
Factually

 @Keloid

 Also, I don't think you know the definition of pusillanimous (I think you're guessing), because you didn't really use it correctly.

Factually
Factually

 @Keloid

 ActuallyBackOffImStarving is correct. It is "pleb" -- short for

plebeian, which means someone regarded as ill-educated. A "plebe" is a first year military student.

Keloid
Keloid

Spare me your self righteous indignation. How many homeless you got squatting in your apartment? 50? 100? You renting Porta Potties for them to use, or just letting them beshit your doorway? That's what I thought, you're nothing but another good German, beating your chest about community and corporate greed while you blog on your iPad and sip lattes and smoke kindy in your skinny jeans and hoodie. Go hop on your fixie and pedal your baby nuts around the block a few more times before you spout your ridiculous fucking nonsense to me, junior. Oh, and it's spelled 

P-L-E-B-E, you pusillanimous asshat.

Sux2BU
Sux2BU

Don't you have an Occutard Camp to go stink up?

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

 @Keloid Heil Hitler.  Right, Keloid?  We can't have the unclean coming into contact with the chosen ones.  I'm surprised you stooped to talking to plebs like us.  Was that your contribution to society for the year of 2012?  I guess that means you don't have to give your single can of beans to the food drive this holiday season.  Fucking piece of shit douchebag.

 
Loading...