February 23, 2012

Virtue tour of Soapy Smith's 17th Street, Denver.

Robert Bandhauer
17th and Market streets

Robert Bandhauer of Denver, Colorado is the Public Relations Chairman for the Wild West History Association. He is also a regular contributor on their Facebook page. Recently he went down to Seventeenth Street in the same area where Soapy Smith had most of his businesses in the nineteenth century and took a few photographs to show how the area looks today.

17th Street at Larimer

The above photograph shows the area Robert focus on. He started at the Union Station train depot whose tower can be seen at the far end of the street, and worked his way back to Larimer, where this photo was taken in the 1880s. The large building on the right is the Chever block where Soapy had his office, on the 2nd or 3rd floor. Soapy later opened the Midway Saloon on the bottom floor just out of range in the above photograph on the far right. The large two-story building behind the Chever (between the telephone/electric poles) contained the Tivoli Club at the far end of the building.

Union Station

The train depot pictured above opened in 1881. On March 18, 1894 fire destroyed the wooden clock tower and a large portion of the station itself. Using the surviving sections the station was quickly rebuilt with a stone clock tower. In 1914, the stone clock tower was torn down and replaced with the building's lower expanded center section that is visible today. Recently the city started the planned restoration of the depot. Thankfully, they had the foresight to save and keep the large end sections that remained from the original building of 1881.

17th Street 1880s
Looking towards Wynkoop and the depot

Union Station 1894

The original portion is plainly seen
(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

More of the restoration
(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

Now, let's head the opposite direction with Robert and see how 17th Street looks today!

(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

The large red brick building on the right is the Oxford Hotel which opened in 1892. If it's rooms could talk what stories they would tell? Across the street is where George Fisher operated several saloons used by the Soap Gang for bringing in their selected prey to buy drinks. This is also where Soapy and brother Bascomb opened the cigar store, Bascomb, Smith, and Company in 1889.

(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

17th and Market Streets, 2012
(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

17th and Market is where the Tivoli Club was located, on the left side of the above photograph. Directly across the street is what once was the Columbia Hotel. Considering it was across the street from the Tivoli it is a good assumption that he spent many a night in this building. The Columbia can be seen as it looked in Soapy's era below.

17th and Market Streets, 1890s

17th and Larimer Streets
Showing the location of the Soapy Smith memorial plaque
(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

Soapy Smith memorial plaque
(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

Location of the memorial plaque
and location where Chever block once stood
(photo by Robert Bandhauer)

~A big thanks to Robert Bandhauer for his wonderful photography skills~

Memorial plaque: Feb. 8, 2011


Jeff Smith


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