The City of Denver is located near the junction of I-25 and I-70 in the middle of the State of Colorado. While Denver is very much alike other cities of its size, it does have some specific attributes than can confuse first time visitors and business travelers who fly into Denver for the first time.
One important thing to know is that Denver’s airport, Denver International Airport, known as DIA to all Coloradans and by the official airport code DEN, is nowhere near Downtown Denver. Instead, DIA sits forty minutes away by car, so travelers doing business downtown, or families or tourists looking to see the sights in Denver, should not stay at an airport hotel.
While several community organizations, politicians, and tourist associations would like to say otherwise, the downtown Denver area is actually rather small. For most practical purposes, downtown is bordered on the west by Wewatta St. and on the east by Grant St. With the southern edge of downtown generally recognized as 14th Street.
The northern border is somewhat nebulous depending upon where one is. This anomoly is due to the explosion in development northward near Coors Field in an area referred to, not surprisingly, as the Ballpark district, while similiar expansion northward was not seen further to the east. For most purposes, the northern edge of Downtown Denver can be considered to be Park Avenue on the western side of downtown and then closer to 20th Street the further east one goes.
There are exceptions, of course.
The Pepsi Center, home to the Colorado Rockies hockey team, and the Denver Nuggets basketball team is usually considered to be downtown. However, the home field of the Denver Broncos is not typically considered part of downtown for most purposes. The Denver football stadium’s official name is Invesco Field at Mile High, but everyone just calls it Mile High, which is just fine because there is no more Invesco, a mutual fund company bought out after the stock market bubble popped earlier this decade.
Like many cities, Downtown Denver can be divided into smaller sections. These areas are not all officially designated and their boundaries are somewhat fluid depending upon who is talking.
The most well known downtown area is LoDo which stands for Lower Downtown. LoDo is on the west side of downtown. It covers the area to the south of Coors Field, to the east of Union Station (Wazee St. and/or Wewatta St.), and to the north of Speer Boulevard. The most variable boundary of LoDo is the eastern one which is either Market Street or Larimer Street, depending upon the person.
The area immediately surrounding Coors Field is known as the Ballpark District. The Ballpark District is an odd mixture of high-dollar loft and condo buildings, homeless shelters, bus stations, nightclubs, businesses, and industrial areas.
This odd mixture comes courtesy of the fact that the area was an industrial area of warehouses and empty buildings prior to the construction of Coors Field. Following completion of the baseball stadium there was a rush to construct condo and loft projects near the stadium especially after all the available buildings in LoDo had been renovated and sold. However, the real estate boom stopped before the total gentrification of the area was completed.
The 16th Street Mall takes the place of 16th Street downtown. Cars are not permitted along 16th Street which is instead a pedestrian mall that covers the entire width of the downtown area. Buses, however, do use the street, so walking in the road is not advised. (The buses have dinging bells as the polite warning to move out of the way, so if you hear what sounds like a street car, get out of the road because a bus is coming.)
The buses on 16th Street run from one end of the mall to the other and are free to all riders any time of day. This makes staying in a Downtown Denver Motel or Downtown Denver Hotel particularly attractive as it gives one access to the entire downtown area without the need for a car or taxi.