Beautiful certificate from the The Highland Park Company
issued in 1895. This historic document has an ornate border around it with the company's name on top center. This item has the signatures of the Company's President, William A. Bell, M.D. and Secretary, and is over 120 years old.
The Highland Park Historic District is the only fragment left of Denver's unique example of a High Victorian romantic suburb. It was laid out in 1874 on the rolling bluffs northwest of Denver City and the Platte Valley by Dr. William A. Bell and General William Jackson Palmer who named their experimental suburb Highland Park. Originally, Highland Park was the largest holding in the Highlands, running diagonally across section 29 from Zuni to Lowell between West 26th and West 38th avenues. Now, the only part of Highland Park to remain intact is the small, roughly triangular shaped piece of land bounded by West 32nd Avenue on the north, Zuni Street on the east, Dunkeld Place on the south and Clay Street on the west.
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.