Western History & Genealogy Blog

Let Us Entertain You

Exterior view of the Palace Theatre on 15th & Blake Streets in Denver circa 1885
"Hotel Metropole" and "Restaurant" written over front entrances.
Interior view of the Broadway Theatre circa 1900
View of 18th (Eighteenth) and California Streets in Denver, Colorado
Interior view of the Denham Theatre crica 1915
Signs read: "The Old Timers Hang Out," and "Eva Lang and the Denham Players."
"Harry Huffman's Tabor Now Musical Comedy," "F & C Shoes,"...
Interior view of the Tabor Theatre circa 1925

Another interesting aspect to the “amusements” in Denver were...

On a recent trip to my hometown in the Sierra Nevada’s I realized that I have become way too reliant on technology for entertainment.  I have to admit that I was very lost without a wireless connection or cell phone reception.  I found myself wandering around town trying to remember what I used to do for fun.  Granted I wasn’t ten years old anymore and couldn’t go play in the creek, or go cow tipping (just a note here, I was never involved in Cow Tipping, but I heard plenty of stories from class mates who had tried this while inebriated, and consequently had run-ins with barbed-wire fences...).    This got me thinking about what life was like before headphones became part of the human anatomy.  So, continuing with my old stand-by of the Story of Denver by Jerome Smiley I decided to do a little research on the matter.  In Chapter 70 of Story of Denver, Smiley discusses the “amusements” of Denver from the very beginning till the turn of the 20th Century.  As can be expected the earlier amusements were what you would imagine to see in the Wild West, with the audience inviting the performers to join them in drinks between performances.  According to Smiley, “The pioneer theaters of Denver were pretty rough establishments and the proceedings on their stages were usually in keeping with the tastes of the average person in the exceedingly varied assortment of men that constituted the audiences... the ability of the audience to discriminate was usually somewhat befuddled, itself, after ten o'clock in the evening, by between-acts adjournments to the regions below.”   Thankfully, things began to improve towards the end of the 19th Century.  Gambling and drinking were replaced with 1,000 people seating and operatic performances.  Establishments like the Tabor, Broadway, Lyceum, and Denver Theaters all became meccas for the arts and performances.  The unfortunate part of the story is that many of these theaters caught fire at least one time or another and no longer exist.    Another interesting aspect to the “amusements” in Denver were, according to Smiley, the “summer amusements” which usually ran from May to September.  Like today there were many thrill seekers.  To quote Smiley again...“The ‘Chutes Park,’ on the bank of Cherry Creek, at the intersection of Corona street and Fourth avenue in the southeastern section of the city, is a recent addition to these summer places of amusement, and is designed for those who enjoy spectacular things, and have a fondness for ‘roller coasters’, a playground for grown-up boys and girls.”    My parting thoughts are these...To the early 20th century mind what constituted as “spectacular things” and “roller coasters”?  And what would they think about today’s parks with walking animated characters, gravity defying coasters, flashing lights, and load music?   I’m sure it would provide many “spectacular things” to amaze them.

Do you have any information

Do you have any information on how I could purchase a print of the photo of the Tabor Theatre? I saw this print at a hotel in Denver and it would look good in my house. Thanks.

- Matthew Tabor

Hi Matthew! Click here for

Hi Matthew!

Click here for information on ordering prints from our collection. When ordering, you'll want to reference the photo's call number, X-24744.

Thanks for your interest!


Here is that link again:

Here is that link again: http://history.denverlibrary.org/images/copyright.html

Denver entertainment

I'm not sure whether this blog is still open but as a Denver resident for almost 3 quarters of a century, I especially remember The Denver Post operas that were held each summer in Cheesman park. I know that one of my favorites was "South Pacific"--probably in the 50's. My aunt was adminiwstrative asistant to two different Denver mayors so she made sure that we were well informed on such events. Our families would all take blanket to sit on and join the large crowds who attended, and the outdoor surroundings were a beautiful back drop for the musicals. I don't remember if the cast members were all local or if there were guest artists.

I love this website aand thank Tina Griego for alerting us to it. Do you still need volunteers? Thank for this enormous project

Mary L Tice (Mrs Robert Tice)

Mrs. Tice, Thank you for your

Mrs. Tice, Thank you for your interest in this post. I'm glad you have so many memories of Denver Entertainment. I'm always glad to hear stories about Denver. I have a couple of suggestions for you. First, I'm not sure if you know about our Creating Communities Web-site. It was designed to tell the history of Denver through items in different collections. Also, if you are interested in volunteering, we are always in need of volunteers. What you want to do depends on who you would need to contact. We have several different areas in which you can volunteer. Areas include, family history, historic photographs, indexing vital records, assisting in the Archive to just name a few. If you are interested you can contact Veletta Hopes at 720-865-2043. Hope all works out for you!