Commentary

Seven Things That Make Baker District Residents Really, Really Mad


The fifth installment of our angry-neighborhoods-of-Denver series takes us to the Baker District. Nestled in the heart of the city and first laid out for residential and business use in the 1870s, Baker’s official boundaries are Sixth Avenue, Lincoln Street, Mississippi Avenue and the South Platte. These days, though, most of the action focuses on Broadway.

Baker is known for being a pretty casual place — the sort of neighborhood that retains its intrinsic self while moving into the hyper-drive property values of modern Denver. Where homeowners can realize market gains with their homes at the same time they can live, walk, enjoy some nearby nightlife, and generally enjoy a high quality of life. Even so, there are things that can rankle the most positive of Baker residents — like these seven common complaints.

7. Antiques
Baker residents have a love/hate relationships with antiques, given the neighborhood’s adjacency to Denver’s Antique Row.  The problem isn't just parking; sometimes the quest for bargains spills over onto nearby streets. A friend of mine who lived in Baker in the early 2000s once had a two-seater wrought-iron swing on his porch, a family heirloom from his father’s side. After he’d been approached by no fewer than six random antique-lovers asking if he was willing to sell it over the course of a single summer, he built a frame for it and hung the swing in his back yard.  History is great until it rings your doorbell and wakes up your napping kids.

6. Parking
You just can’t live near two of the busiest streets in town and not have parking issues, especially with the plethora of places for people to go in the area, from music venues to a whole mess of bars and restaurants to shops and other attractions. If not for Baker, how would Broadway crawlers hit the Hornet for drinks and a delicious base for a night of bar-hopping? How would movie lovers see their favorite tough-to-find flicks, both old and new, without the historic and much-beloved Mayan Theater? There’s a lot to do in Baker, and folks who want to do them grab every available spot on streets in the area — which sometimes gets in the way of the folks who, you know, actually live there.

5. Losing Local Landmarks
Speaking of places where Denverites like to go…Baker keeps losing its stalwart go-to places. (Thank the maker that the Mayan is still going strong.) Last summer saw the closure of one of Denver’s last true burger joints: Griff’s was beloved by patrons for generations, and finally gave up the ghost with a little fanfare and a long line of burger lovers wanting one last Griff's stop. As much as that hurt, the more recent decision to designate the historic Webber Theater as “non-historic” hurt Baker residents even more: Sure, the Webber had been a shell of its former self, operating as porn-cinema Kitty’s South until it shut it doors in 2007, but it’s an anchor in a part of Denver hungry for its own history. Fortunately, the current owners say they plan to save and even restore the building. Here’s hoping these new plans see the light of day and the Webber returns to the glory it once was, for the sake of Baker and Denver alike.

Keep reading for four more things that make Baker residents really, really mad.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen