To look at it, you would never know that South Broadway started as the path Tom Skerrit used to move his fruit from Englewood to Denver in the 1870s.
By 1874, horse drawn trolleys operating on rails were moving people in Denver. Cable cars were introduced in 1888, lasting only 11 months due to tangling of cables.
In December 1889, the first electrified trolley line was introduced in Denver — which happened to be along South Broadway! Trolley stops were made upon request and included what became the Gates complex. The route extending to Orchard Place, now Englewood, operated until June 3, 1950.
It wasn’t until 1898 that South Broadway was designated an official roadway by the City of Denver. With a right of way width of 100 feet, it was appropriately named Broadway.
Many changes have occurred since then to alter the landscape of one of Denver’s most vibrant transit and transportation hubs. As is the case with bustling thoroughfares throughout the world, South Broadway attracted industry, jobs and residents to the area.
Henry Ford built a plant on South Broadway and Kentucky, which manufactured the Model T Truck.
In 1914, Charles and Hazel Gates moved their fledgling business, the “The Colorado Tire and Leather Company,” a producer of leather and rubber goods, to the South Broadway area.
By 1945, Gates had purchased the old Ford Building and moved some of its operations there. Eventually, the “Gates Rubber Company” complex occupied 25 blocks and consisted of 30 interconnected buildings, remaining a major employment center and a vital part of the community.
Passengers Disembarking the Trolley at Gates Rubber Company on South Broadway
Photo Courtesy Sundance Publications - Denver’s Street Railways Volume II David Clint Jr. Photo, Don Robertson Collection