Comment of the Day

Reader: What I Miss, and What's Better Now in Denver

Washington Park...still awesome.
Washington Park...still awesome.
Liz Prato, the author of Kids in America: A Gen X Reckoning, grew up in Denver in the 1970s and ’80s, which puts her smack at the beginning of Generation X, a group of kids born between 1965 and 1980, growing up in an America that was changing — some might say falling apart — around them. She rode Mr. Twister at the old Elitch’s and took orders for burgers from the red phones at Round the Corner. She hung out at Tamarac Square, ate at the Yum Yum Tree and the White Spot on Broadway, and biked to parks around her family home near Hampden and Monaco.

In advance of Prato's appearance at the Tattered Cover on June 24, Teague Bohlen talked with the author about why it's time for Baby Boomers to turn over the keys; they also talked about what Prato, who now lives in Oregon, misses about Denver. That inspired a variety of comments on the Westword Facebook post of the story, including this from Matthieu Larsen Morava:
So we rely on the past
And special moments that last
Were they as tender
As we dare to remember?

Clubs and restaurants come and go. ...I miss the Deadbeat Club and Rainbow Music Hall — but if they still existed, it's not like I would be spending a lot of time in either. GenX can't be like Boomers: We've got to get off the stage when it's time to have the next band come up.

That being said, here's what I'd say are the most different some fifty years later and what's still the same:

Still Awesome: Wash Park, Winter Park, DMNS (albeit under a new name), Red Rocks, Bonnie Brae Ice Cream, and the Botanic Gardens... all still great.

What's Better Now: 16th Street Mall and downtown (it was a ghost town on weekends); we have MLB...albeit a Triple A team posing as an MLB team but still, the new Mile High Stadium is much better than the old (although I miss the jazz band); the new Denver Art Museum; City Park doesn't have stray bullets headed into the Denver Zoo, so a win there; it's somewhat safe to get into the Platte; Casa Bonita apparently is getting a facelift under a new ownership group from South Park, plus the art community is thriving on Old Santa Fe and at the DCPA.

What's Missed Most: Rock Island; Deadbeat Club; Rainbow Music Hall; Celebrity Sports Center; Blue Chip Cookie Company; Round the Corner; Bocalino's; Chrysler's, then Fourth Story at the old Tattered Cover (no, not that one... when it was two book stores in Cherry Creek). I really miss the people. You live long enough and you start to miss people more than places.

What's Worse Now: Traffic... it's insane. Colorado Boulevard has turned into a ride up the Devil's Butthole and I-25 is a scene from Mad Max almost 24-7. Just too, too many people. Trying to camp or get close to any of the good spots these days is impossible; RMNP is not worth the effort most weeks. Skiing is often the same, although there was a time when driving up and down to ski on a weekend day was possible....

And just the whole new "Highlands Ranch" type stuff from Castle Rock to Elizabeth... .
What do you miss about old Denver? What new additions have you welcomed? Post a comment or share your thoughts at [email protected]
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