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Denver can certainly lay claim to some unique and yes, sometimes, wacky transportation features. I’ll share some of them in this categorized article. You should know that most of these will be in current or future Wacky Denver listings.
Many folks may not know that Henry Barnes started some traffic innovations right here in Denver. The first is known as the “Barnes Dance”. It’s when at an intersection all traffic lights turn red and pedestrians are given the opportunity to cross at any angle, or even do a little dance if they like.
Barnes also synchronized traffic lights so that if you’re driving at an optimal speed, and traffic allows, you can go through a long string of green signals. If traffic conditions are right, you can still experience this on Speer Boulevard, Broadway, and some other numbered streets downtown.
A less welcome traffic-stopping device was born here in Denver…
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Every year in January, near the end of Denver's Stock Show, two prize-winning steers are ushered in on a red carpet to the historic Brown Palace Hotel downtown. People line up to have their pictures taken with the animals so, if you want to participate and fit in, wear your cowboy hat. While you're waiting in line watch ladies in Stetsons enjoying lunch and enjoying live piano musician the stunning lobby. You can also chat with rodeo queens. Amazingly, the photos are free!
Although it's been disputed by other towns and cities, Louis Ballast trademarked the name "cheeseburger" in 1935. His restaurant, the Humpty Dumpty Drive In, is alas no more. But if you go to the Key Bank at 2776 N. Speer Boulevard, you'll find a small marble monument heralding him and his restaurant. You'll have to look closely for the marker, it's barely three feet tall. To properly toast one for Louis and his "curb girls" who delivered the cheeseburgers, the nearest spots are Park Burger and Highland Tap and Grill on 32nd Avenue, north of the marker. A little further away, but at a lower price point, you'll find Burger King on Federal Boulevard and another on 38th Avenue.
This Winchell's location on Colfax would be just another little retail outlet on a dreary stretch of road expect for the mural: Nothing to see here but a guy with a donut head hanging out by a phone next to a donut shop.
Don't miss this photo op if you happen to be heading down West Colfax. And why might you be doing that? Across the street you'll find World Famous Casa Bonita!
I love the varied sounds of a city. These wacky samples are from RTD buses. The first two are announcements from onboard. The automated announcer turns Wynkoop street into a hiccup and Stout sounds like a question being asked with a slight inflection.
Not to be outdone, you can now hear a science-fictiony sound loop emanating from the front of the electric buses on the 16th Street mall. Here's what it sounds like:
Out on the plains of Colorado, a short drive from urban Denver in the heart of the surrounding farmland, you'll find lions and tigers and bears. For real.
The 720 acrea Wild Animal Sanctuary is a work-in-progress of massive fenced areas and agricultural pavilions connected by a suspended walkway that allows visitors to tour the animal enclosures safely from the sky.
In addition to learning a little about large predators and other rescue animals, the facility itself is an head scratching collection of industrial constructions and contraptions that make the security of guests and animals possible. The 1.51 mile elevated footbridge is Guiness Book of World Records certified as the longest.
And they have a snack bar serving pizza, just to round out the experience.
Years ago Steve Goodman wrote a song about Door Number 3, which was a reference to the tv game show "Let's Make a Deal". The challenge of choosing a door has come to life in Wheat Ridge where you'll find this wall of doors. None will literally open for you, but you can still ponder your choices in life.
In the shadow of the Wells Fargo building (one of Denver's tallest) is a small park serving as an urban oasis. The Adirondack chairs come with footstools for serious relaxing. One of the things that makes this park unique is that due to the proximity to the skyscraper, it is always shady during the heat of a summer afternoon. To top it all off, there is usually a food truck parked on the street.
In what hopefully be an ongoing festival/project, kids from the Five Points area of Denver have recorded poems and stories. When you walk by a tree with a kite and streamers in it a motion activated recording is played. Walk along the east side of 2600 Champa street to hear their authentic, imaginative work.
About Wacky Denver
It is wacky!