If You Lived In Denver...Section 5 - West Highland

The latest section we explored in Denver was the Highland neighborhood.  It was full of great places to eat, great places to drink, and many areas to live, both in houses and multi-unit communities.   Being close to downtown creates a large demand for many of those establishments.   Just west of this area is a separate neighborhood called the West Highland.  Being so close in proximity, the West Highland and Highland share a lot of history and a lot of similar characteristics.  The West Highland is known for a good variety of food and boutique shops and is a desirable place to live.  Being further away from downtown, the West Highland is less developed (vertically) and maintains a quieter presence, at least it does right now.   In this section of ‘If You Lived in Denver…’ we’ll explore the West Highland, a neighborhood rich in culture that is also fighting to maintain its community identity.

As the live/work/play continuum expands from downtown into neighboring communities the Highland has recently seen much activity.  There are many condominium and apartment communities being developed.  This spread continues through the Highland and is creeping up on the West Highland neighborhood.  Traditionally a quieter neighborhood, many residents feel that commercializing the neighborhood too quickly could threaten the nature of the community.  There is one specific development that is the center of attention.  A development group wants to put three five-story apartment buildings with about 160 rental units right in the center of the West Highland district.  Many community members have responded with rallies, traffic studies, and lawsuits.  This kind of problem is obviously not unique to Denver but it is an aspect I wanted to touch on.  Much of what I like about Denver is that there are many small urban communities with a good variety of housing, including larger apartments/condominiums.  Although I frequently enjoy the aesthetics of newer multi-unit residences, this community stance represents a good point against standardizing (and apartment-izing) every community.  I enjoy the stark contrast of old and new in many communities, but I also enjoy more laid-back communities that maintain a consistent old flair. 

The West Highland represents the border between old and new Denver.  It will never completely be able to stand up against the winds of change but, if new development comes, I certainly hope that it fits into the mold of the community.  New development needs to generate new energy without being a detriment to the uniqueness of an established neighborhood.  The West Highland is a neighborhood that is making sure to fight for its own identity, and like many other neighborhoods in Denver, it is certainly a community identity worth fighting for!


If You Lived In Denver...Section 4 - Highland

I have to admit, the Highland is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Denver.  If you’re walking or riding a bike from downtown it is only a small bridge or three away.  It combines a good urban vibe with a quiet neighborhood feel.  There is always a good place to eat, a good place to drink, and a good place to be.  It may be upscale but it is also down to earth.  I read some Denver blogs and other resources about urban sustainability and I always think about the Highlands when I read about such ideas.  The model community always addresses cozy living, neighborhood markets, new places to eat around the corner, and easy access to work or transportation.  I’ve been through so many times and just the other day I went to a deli I have seen time and time again and had one of the best sandwiches of my life.

Trying to adequately describe a neighborhood, especially like this, with words will only ever fall short.  I am fortunate enough to be able to convey my love for this neighborhood through the lens of my friend Jennifer.  She occasionally describes aspects of her photography as taking the context out of a subject.  When we discussed this photographic journey we were embarking on, I wanted to make sure she got more photographs in context.  I wanted the entire feel of the different neighborhoods, not just individual pieces.  I wanted to show the whole of a neighborhood. I am realizing, for the Highland, feeling is more important.  To take the individual photographs out of context may be best.  Each piece is a patchwork of the quilt.  Each corner is an idea of the whole.  To take a picture down a street or a shot of the neighborhood couldn’t explain the essence of the community I’m so inadequately describing with words.  I want to convey emotion out of context.  The neighborhood isn’t about the place; it’s about the feeling.  Maybe it’s only my feeling.  This is what I’m trying to describe to you about Denver.  Every street corner is somewhere great to live, somewhere delectable to eat, a place that I want to be.  Highland shows the highs and the lows.  It shows the living and breathing. It is residential.  It is urban.  It’s old.  It’s new.
This is the Highland.  This is Denver.


If You Lived in Denver...Section 3 - Golden Triangle

Even though our third neighborhood is the closest we have visited to downtown, it still remains rather quiet.  The feel of the area is definitely different and varies much from block to block.  On some lots all you will encounter are surface parking lots (and old ones at that), some lots will be old boutique shops, and some lots will be full of expensive high rises or multi-unit residences.  In between a few of the residential high rises was a multi-unit residence that I found particularly delightful.  It was definitively modern yet not too ornate, or so it appeared on the outside.  It was for sale and from the advertising website the inside appeared rather fancy and was much larger than I had expected.  It may have been a bit beyond my price point.

The North side of the neighborhood also has a few artistic museums.  The Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum, and the History Colorado Center are all located there, as well as the very nice Denver Library.  These institutions stand in contrast to the old asphalt parking lots that lay adjacent.

The Golden Triangle is certainly a unique area.  Reasonably so, one of the spots I have frequented in the area is rather unique itself.  Pints Pub, located on the edge of the neighborhood near the art museums, is a little place modeled after a British drinking establishment.  With some Denver flair they brew their own beers (a few of them being live beers) and maintain a large whisky selection.  They boast, “This is the world’s largest single malt selection outside Britain” though, once again I have to admit, sources were not checked.  World records aside, this locale has a great selection of beverages from which to choose and a fantastic environment from the eclectic collection of items from across the United Kingdom to the occasional bagpipe tune.  The barstools are cozy and the floors are old and wooden. 

You may find me here
For a pint o’ beer
An ale or a lager
I’ll raise a toast
With a malted roast
My friend Jen, the blogger

If you missed our previous posts: IntroSection 1: Wash ParkSection 2: University Park