The Barnum neighborhood in Denver (6th Avenue – Federal Boulevard – Alameda Avenue – Sheridan Boulevard) is home to a unique part of Denver’s history. Read on to see how accurately this neighborhood reflects its namesake though. On March 21, 1878, the American circus mogul Phineas T. Barnum bought 760 acres for just $11,000, and a few years later, the Barnum subdivision was platted.
Many myths and legends exist about Barnum’s interest in Denver. He did not buy the property to house his animals during the winter. Barnum’s involvement with his namesake’s development has become part of Denver folklore, especially in the durable legend of the showman’s plan to establish a winter home for his circus in the city. In fact, Barnum never wintered his animals anywhere other than Connecticut or Florida, and the entertainment entrepreneur made just four documented trips to Colorado.
Barnum’s history is one of a quiet development over more than a century, although not for lack of a strong sense of community. As the journalist and historian Robert Autobee observes, Barnum’s struggle in the shadow of Denver’s often different priorities, and its corresponding sense of community occasioned by the city’s neglect of older neighborhoods, has shaped the neighborhood’s identity. In spite of challenges, Barnum has developed as a haven for working-class families.
Today’s Barnum remains a neighborhood of families, with more than two-thirds of Barnum’s housing being owner-occupied, making it a great fit for Extreme Community Makeover.
Read more about Barnum in the Denver Public Library’s article.