Throwback Thursday: Edgewater and Saloons

Current mural

Mural showing the history of Manhattan Beach that formerly resided on the building that is now Joyride Brewing

Tonight (3/5/2015) at the Edgewater City Council meeting, members will be discussing possible changes to the marijuana regulations in the city. Edgewater’s history and specifically its incorporation, involves the regulation of certain substances.

In 1891, the Manhattan Beach Amusement Park opened on the northern side of Sloan’s Lake. At that time, it was the first amusement park west of the Mississippi River. The park included a theater, bowling alley, a roller coaster and even Roger the Elephant who gave rides to kids (we’ll focus on the tragedy involving Roger at a later date).

Stories are told of men who would drop their families off at Manhattan Beach and cross Sheridan to drink at the Edgewater saloons. Saloons would stack their empty beer kegs outside to show how well they were doing. Some say there was even a fence along Sheridan to keep the activities across the street away from the view of families at Manhattan Beach.

Edgewater’s Golden Anniversary History Book published in 1951 records how Edgewater was incorporated in part due to these successful saloons:

October 14, 1892 in the saloon of Mr. Steinke, near Sheridan Boulevard and Emerald Street (West 25th Avenue), a meeting was called and nearly a hundred persons were present representing saloon keepers and citizens. It was the purpose of the meeting to persuade the people to incorporate into a town. The saloon owners offered to pay all expenses in order that they be out from under the jurisdiction of Denver and the Ashland police. They not only wanted to incorporate what is now Edgewater but also extend into Denver, north of Manhattan Beach. The people were so alarmed at this proposal that they refused to have anything to do with it, fearing that the unsavory element connected with the saloons, liquor and gambling interests would make Edgewater a gangsters paradise. 

It was at this time that the temperance group started to bring its influence to bear in this part of the county and by 1899 when a new Company wanted to put a saloon near what is now West 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, they circulated a petition and presented it to the County Commissioners in Golden, who had the authority to issue a liquor license outside of incorporated towns. When this petition was presented to the County Commissioners, they refused to issue the license and many citizens came forward to congratulate them on their actions. 

Conditions became so bad in Edgewater by 1900 that it became evident that something must be done. It was reported that there were six saloons in the area close to West 25th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, also wide-open gambling and houses of prostitution. One reason conditions were so bad was because when Denver and Arapahoe County, which was just south of Colfax Avenue, made an effort to control conditions, this unsavory element came to Edgewater, where there were no closing hours and no Sunday controls. Early citizens report that on Saturdays and Sundays it was almost impossible to cross Sheridan Boulevard because of the drunks and bums. 

In 1899, in spite of this there circulated a petition of incorporation and a committee of judges selected to be sure that the names on the petition for incorporation were legal voters. On August 18, 1901 when the vote for incorporation was actually placed before the people there was a very hot election. By a close vote of 45 to 41 the town was incorporated and struck out into a new world of endeavor and the Board of Trustees were able to overcome the influence of the saloon element and lay the foundations for the present town of Edgewater. 

Here are some of Edgewater’s first ordinances from 1901 that show this desire to regulate saloons and houses of prostitution:

Ordinance No. 5 – An ordinance regulating the selling or giving away of intoxicating, malt, vinous, mixed and fermented liquors within the limits of the Town of Edgewater, or within one mile beyond the outer boundaries thereof.

Ordinance No. 8 – An ordinance to suppress bawdy and disorderly houses of ill-fame or assignation.

Ordinance No. 9 – An ordinance to restrain and punish prostitutes.

In keeping with the origins of Edgewater, our city currently has three liquor stores, one brewery and five bars/pubs. We also have five marijuana dispensaries with a sixth one opening soon. But as our history shows us, it is important for citizens to speak up and engage in the process of regulating these industries.

Sources:

  • Edgewater’s Golden Anniversary History Book (1951)
  • Edgewater: Four Score by Judith Allison (1979)
  • Edgewater Colorado: A Centennial Celebration by Celora Jean Jones and Connie Jo Fox (2001)

1 Comment on "Throwback Thursday: Edgewater and Saloons"

  1. Joan Seivert | Mar 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Reply

    Now I know what you were doing with all those history books! Great story and a great point. I hope this gets published a few places. You really are an inspiration. Our community is blessed to have you…I suggest a circle of conversation for these topics beyond a city council meeting. Timing is everything and in this day and age we need to create more community building opportunities for neighbors to meet and talk and share and care about their community and its future.

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