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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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Rockmount Ranch Wear isn't just any western clothing store. The founder, Jack Weil (Papa Jack), invented the snap button shirt. Jack worked until he was 107 years old and made it his aim to ensure that people living in the American West had their own cool style. If you check out the location, make sure you go upstairs to look at the mini museum!
The Ghost Building at 18th and Stout seems to live up to its name. It is a ghost of a building. Amazingly, it's facade-all 1,700 pieces of stone-was moved to this location in 1985. The original building (1891) is named after the real estate tycoon Allen M. Ghost. The architect was William Lang. If you look closely at the facade it show some mysterious faces. The building (in its current location) seems haunted or possibly cursed as a string of tenants have come and gone. None have lasted as long as the facade has.
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.
There are three kinetic sculptures in the lobby of Denver Public Schools' Emily Griffith Campus in Downtown Denver, which is open to the public. The art is by John King of Lyons, CO. While you are in the lobby, you can also check out the wood sculptures by Ted Esselstyn.
Who doesn't love a cowboy in pajamas? The 3 ton, 20 foot tall sculpture at 1725 Champa Street has admirers and detractors. That's abstract art for you, and art that sparks conversations. This, western-inspired, painted bronze sculpture was created by Sean O'Meallie. Its placement near the Renaissance Hotel harks back to when there was an annual pajama fundraiser held there. Perhaps now someone will start a photo collection of pajama-clad people posing with the sculpture. We could feature that on Wacky Denver!
Although Denver is over 800 miles from the Mississippi River there is a massive riverboat replica in South Denver. To add to the wacky factor it's actually a car wash where the only water is internal, not external. And you can't reach this nautical monument via a river. It's at 3480 South Poplar Street just off of Hampden Avenue. GIven the height and immensity of the structure you'll have no trouble sighting it from Hampden. Now someone needs to show this to John Fogerty of "Proud Mary" song fame.
The "I Made It" community woodshop is a makerspace with a welcoming old school vibe. The wood is locally sourced, the pricing is by project and folks are ready to help you bring your wood creation to life. To top it off, you can book parties including their house beer and wine while they teach you how to make...drink coasters of course. More serious woodwrights can make one of kind pieces of furniture. This is where your DIY project can become a masterpiece.
The Cherry Cricket restaurant has been in Cherry Creek for 72 years. At one point it was owned by Governor John Hickenlooper. Besides serving famous burgers it also has features that certainly qualify it for a Wacky Denver listing: In the bar area, on the ceiling is a replica of a hockey rink. Around the edges of the rink you'll find celebrity autographs from visitors. Another notable part of the Cricket is the wall of aquariums. After a kitchen fire they had to close for some months. Upon reopening, they held a funeral for the fish that had died in the fire/closing. Editor's note: Besides respecting their fish, they also respect their employees-paying them while the restaurant was closed for repair.
About Wacky Denver
It is wacky!