Highlands

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Highlands, Denver, Colorado

Highland is a distinct city-center neighborhood in Denver, Colorado bounded by West 38th Avenue to the north, a Union Pacific Railroad line on the east, the South Platte River to the southeast, Speer Boulevard on the south, and Federal Boulevard on the west. The misnomer Highlands is sometimes used to refer to two separate city-center neighborhoods, Highland and West Highland, in Denver, Colorado, although the two neighborhoods are distinct. Highland and West Highland are both in the area that is referred to as North Denver. is located immediately northwest of downtown. Note that the Highland neighborhood association has a slightly different definition with the easternmost boundary stopping at I-25. And the West Highland neighborhood to the immediate west of Highland, with the borders of 38th and 29th Avenues on the north and south and Federal and Sheridan Boulevards on the east and west. To distinguish between its immediately adjacent neighbor, West Highland, Highland is sometimes referred to as East Highland, Lower Highland or LoHi. The two together are casually called “the Highlands,” a term which often falsely encompasses other Northwest Denver neighborhoods such as Jefferson Park, Sunnyside and Berkeley. Realtors have particularly pushed the inclusion of the recently gentrified Berkeley, located directly north of West Highland, as part of the Highlands, sometimes going so far as to refer to Berkeley and parts of Sunnyside as the “Upper Highlands”. To add further confusion, within the Highlands neighborhoods there are several historic designations of various degrees, including Potter Highlands, Scottish Highlands and Highlands Park.

West Highland and the Highland neighborhoods (large portions of zip codes 80211 and 80212) currently has a population of about 57,000 people.

Highland is often confused with the suburb of Highlands Ranch, located approximately 20 miles to the south. The similarity in name is merely a coincidence. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland,_Denver)

History of Highlands:

View the History of Highlands!

The townsite of Highland was laid out in December 1858 by William Larimer, Jr., who the previous month had founded Denver City. In 1859 the Highland town company formed, and a Platte River bridge was planned to connect to Auraria and Denver. The Rocky Mountain News noted:

“No more handsome location for residences can be found than on the highlands of Highland, on the opposite side of the river from and overlooking Auraria and Denver, and a vast extent of surrounding territory.”

After the May 1864 flood wiped out parts of Denver, new people moved up the hill to the west. The Fifteenth Street Bridge made the western hills accessible and as the years passed streetcars made the area even easier to reach.

In 1875, Owen Le Fevre and other developers petitioned the Arapahoe County Commissioners to establish a village government. After annexing Potter Highland and Highland Park, they formed the Town of Highlands which became a city in 1885.

Residents were fairly homogeneous. Most were Protestant and they tended to vote Republican. Many men participated in the Masonic Lodge and other similar clubs. In 1892, the young men of Highland formed the North Denver Athletic Club which gave them facilities similar to those enjoyed at the Denver Athletic Club, playground of Denver’s elite.

The women joined churches and other societies. One society of note was the North Side Women’s Club, where they heard lectures and completed good works around the area.

The residents also counted on Owen Le Febre’s artesian well for clean drinking water and the breezes from the west provided clean air by blowing away any smog. Residents supported bond issues for schools, a library, and other civic improvements because they expected to have those services. The founding fathers eventually found it difficult to maintain such city services. In 1896, after considerable discussion, the residents voted to allow Denver to annex the town.

Separated from the city by the South Platte River and neighboring railyards, Highland remained suburban in character for some time while attracting a variety of immigrants. Large numbers of Italians migrated to the area. Scottish Highlands was a project of nineteenth century developers who wanted to “brand” a new neighborhood with a distinct identity. Hence the Scottish names and quaint curvy streets. The original name was Highland Park. (from Rebecca Hunt)

The arrival of the Denver Tramway Corporation streetcar line in Highland better connected the area to downtown Denver and led to growth. As a streetcar suburb, Highland developed commercial centers near streetcar stops, some of which still exist today, including 32nd Ave and Tejon, 32nd Ave and Zuni (then called Gallop), 32nd Ave and Federal (then called “The Boulevard” or “Boulevard F”), as well as 32nd and Lowell in the West Highland neighborhood, now renamed “Highland Square”. The streetcar system was later dismantled in the 1950s. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland,_Denver#History)

Education in Highlands

About Highlands Educational System:

The Highland United Neighbors, Inc. (HUNI) Education Committee believes in and advocates for the needs of quality education in our neighborhood schools. We are committed to listening to the needs of our schools and to finding creative solutions to complex problems. We are a grass roots organization that has deep ties to the Highland and North West Denver Community and we will leverage our contacts for funding, supplies and we will mobilize volunteers from the private and business sectors to address the needs of our schools.

The committee’s vision is to strengthen the Highland community by focusing volunteer efforts on behalf of the Denver Public Schools located in and around the Highland and North West Denver Community namely: North High School, Valdez Elementary, Academia Anna Marie Sandoval Elementary, Bryant Webster Elementary and Skinner Middle School. The focus of these efforts is to build awareness of the needs of each school in the community at large and then bring community resources to address the most pressing needs. (http://denverhighland2.org/about/committees/education/)

Denver Public Schools

In 1859, the first school in Denver, the “Union School,” is established by Owen J. Goldrick. It is a private school and serves only 13 students. Other private schools open shortly thereafter to accommodate Denver’s rapidly growing population during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. In 1861, the new territorial government establishes Goldrick as the Superintendent of Schools in Arapahoe County (which then encompassed Denver). Soon after the first two public school districts in Denver are formed: District One on the east side of the city and District Two on the west side. District Two opens the first public school in Denver on December 1, 1862 in a rented log cabin and District One followed suit soon after. On April 2, 1873 the first purpose built school building, the “Arapahoe School”, is opened.[1]

In 1902, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution of the State of Colorado, known as the Rush Amendment, creates the City and County of Denver, separating it from Arapahoe County. In 1903, Denver Public Schools is born. All school districts in the County of Denver are consolidated into Denver Public Schools, and Aaron Gove becomes the first-ever DPS Superintendent.

DPS operates 183 schools, including traditional, magnet, charter and pathways schools, with a current total enrollment of 90,143 students. Of those, 57% of the school districts enrollment is Hispanic, 22% is Caucasian, 14% is African American, 3% is Asian, 3% is more than two races, and 1% is American Indian/other. 140 languages are spoken, and 39% are English language learners. 11% of students have special needs. The poverty rate is 70%.

Under the leadership of Superintendent Tom Boasberg and guided by the tenets of The Denver Plan, DPS has become the fastest-growing urban school district in the nation. Total DPS graduates have grown from 2,655 in 2006 to 3,608 in 2014. Drop-out rates have dropped from 11.1% in 2006 to 4.5% in 2014. DPS is committed to establishing Denver as a national leader in student achievement, high school graduation, and college and career readiness. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver_Public_Schools)

Neighborhoods of Highlands:

Highlands Has A Great Neighborhoods!

Highlands Square at 32nd and Lowell is a charming neighborhood of quaint boutiques and restaurants, situated among bungalow-style houses. Here, you’ll find shops offering anything from books and gifts to fine lingerie and contemporary fashions. Restaurants in Highlands Square serve up an array of fare, including Mexican and Caribbean cuisine, seafood and sushi. Pubs, as well as wine, sake and martini bars play a big part in giving this area a fun, lively ambiance

Another area of interest in Highlands is the Tennyson Street Cultural District, with a number of art galleries, where you can spend an afternoon browsing antique prints, photographs, and paintings from local artists. You’ll also find a few live music venues and some great Italian and Mexican food. The Navajo Street Art District is tucked away in the Lower Highlands area of Denver. With amazing galleries, fine dining, great performance art, and ample parking, it’s truly one of the best kept secrets in town.

If you’re looking for a neighborhood on the verge, look no further than Lower Highlands, or East Highlands. Spanning both sides of the Highland Bridge, LoHi is a great place to shop, eat, stroll and relax. (source: http://www.denver.org/about-denver/denver-neighborhoods/highlands/)

Things To Do in Highlands

Spend A Day In Highlands!

Northwest of downtown, just across highway I-25, the Highland neighborhood is both charming and trendy. It’s an eclectic mix of old and new homes, restaurants and retail stores.

Highlands Square, around 32nd Street and Lowell, features a diverse range of restaurants and popular dining destinations. It is also home to a local farmers market, harvest festivals and street fairs. The nearby Tennyson Street Cultural District has many art galleries.

Lower highlands, or “LoHi,” has grown into a popular residential area with houses, apartments and condos among established bungalows.

The neighborhood has always been known for its ethnic diversity since its founding in 1858. Home to Scottish, German, Italian and English immigrants during the 19th century and recently by its Spanish-speaking population. Remnants of Highland’s motley history are apparent in the Scottish and Spanish street names, and historic landmarks like the mission-style St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Highland’s quaint architecture, characterized by exposed brick walls, winding staircases and other whimsical attributes of Victorian architecture, has made it a sought-after destination for young families and LoDo business professionals. Recreational parks with youth baseball diamonds, basketball courts, flower beds and picnic benches complement the neighborhood ambiance. (source: http://www.denver.com/neighborhoods/highlands)